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Monday, October 29, 2012

Isn't Praying to the Saints Un-Biblical?

“Love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul,
         and with all your MIND”--Matt 22:37

In light of our Church's celebration of the Feast of All Saints, I thought it was important to address this question that is often posed to Catholics.

The objections to praying to the saints are many and look like this:

  1. Saints are dead.  How can they hear us?
  2. Jesus is the ONLY mediator.  So why do Catholics elevate saints to mediators?
  3. How can people in heaven hear all the simultaneous prayers of billions of people? 
  4. Where in the Bible does it say we're supposed to pray to saints?
  5. Why not go directly to Jesus?
Regarding objection #1 that saints are dead, that is easily refuted by John 3:16:  For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.  This verse proclaims that those in heaven have not "perished", but rather have "eternal life". Thus, the saints in heaven are not dead but are ALIVE in Christ.  Even more ALIVE than we are here on earth!

Regarding #2, the objection that Jesus is the ONLY mediator is actually not found in the Bible. What the Bible actually says is that Jesus is the ONE mediator.  For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human-1 Tim 2:5.  That's a distinction that's important.  Jesus is, indeed, the ONE mediator, but through our union with him, we are all participants in this mediation.  Thus, Jesus is not the ONLY mediator.  We are ALL mediators, including the saints in heaven, who intercede for us eternally before the throne of heaven.

Incidentally, non-Catholics like to bring up that verse in 1 Timothy about Jesus being the One Mediator, but what's interesting is just a few verses earlier St. Paul tells us this:  First of all, then, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone--1 Timothy 2:1, which is a request for us to be mediators for each other, isn't it?

Regarding #3 asking how they could hear a multitude of prayers simultaneously, we know that Scripture tells us, Eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, nor has it entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him--1 Cor 2:9.  What those who are rejoicing with God in heaven, joined eternally as the Body of Christ, can do is not limited by our finite and limited reasoning. 

Regarding #4 which asks where it can be found in the Bible, there's the standard response:  why do we have to find everything we believe in the pages of the Bible? Where does the Bible state that?  (Answer:  no where. That's a man-made tradition that many have been duped into believing).  Also, we can ask the non-Catholic, "Where does it say in the Bible that we can't pray to saints in heaven?" 

Objection #4 segues nicely into a question that I like to pose to Protestants who ask me, "Where is Doctrine X  in the Bible?"  The question I pose is this:  "If it's not in the Bible does that mean it's allowed, or does that mean it's prohibited?"

The question is troubling for most Bible-alone Christians because they will see their inconsistency.  On the one hand, they will say, for things such as praying to the saints,  "Well, if it's not in the Bible then it's not allowed. You can't pray to saints because it's not in the Bible."  But on the other hand, they will say, for things such as contraception, "Well, if it's not in the Bible then it is allowed.  So you can use the Pill because it doesn't say you can't in the Bible."

In other words, the Bible-alone Christian needs to be consistent.  Either follow this paradigm: "Where the Bible is silent on an issue, it is forbidden."  OR!  follow this paradigm, "Where the Bible is silent on an issue it is permissible."  But they ought not pick and choose when to apply these paradigms. 

Finally, regarding objection #5 on why not go to Jesus Directly.  2 words:  Prayer Chains.

In other words, almost all non-Catholic Christians who object to praying to the saints because they believe we should go to Jesus Directly also have Prayer Chains.  If they really believed that we should go to Jesus Directly then they wouldn't have prayer chains.  They would simply, individually, pray for their own private intentions directly to Jesus.  But they understand the power of the prayers of a righteous man and thus ask for the intercession of others through the Prayer Chain.

Praying to the saints is nothing more than a Prayer Chain, extended to the Heavenly Body of Christ!

For more in-depth study visit these websites:

Any Friend of God's is a Friend of Mine

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" - 1 Peter 3:15