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Friday, February 22, 2013

Praying to Saints--Dead People Can't Hear You!

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

This Sunday's Gospel proclaims the Transfiguration of Our Lord.

We will hear this passage:

And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah,
who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus
that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.--Luke 9

I love this passage as far as apologetics goes, when it comes to the objection that non-Catholic Christians often pose against the Catholic practice of praying to saints. 

Here's something from an anti-Catholic website that is called "Just for Catholics" and poses many, many objections to Catholicism.  Here, the author states: 
You pray to dead saints and bow down before graven images, contrary to the second commandment.
Of course those in heaven are not dead!  They are more alive in Christ than we are.  The saints can indeed hear us!  They can do this and so much more, for "eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, the things God has prepared for those who love him."--1 Cor 2:9

That's why I love this gospel so much.  It's a great example of 2 saints in heaven--Moses and Elijah--conversing with someone on earth!

And since we've established that those in heaven are not "dead" spirits, then what's wrong with asking them to pray for us?  Isn't this practice nothing more than a heavenly prayer chain?  We are asking for their intercession, in the same way that we might ask a holy friend to pray for us before surgery.  We are not worshipping them. Catholics worship God alone!  Even the most clueless Catholics don't think that we worship statues!

Incidentally, bowing down before statues does not contradict the 2nd commandment as the anti-Catholic website accuses us of doing. Worshipping idols is what contradicts the 2nd commandment, not merely bowing down before a statue. 

And bowing down is not the same as worshipping.

This photo is a great example of Protestant worshippers bowing down before a box of kleenex.  Clearly, no one here is worshipping the box of kleenex, right?  


So it's curious that Catholics get accused of worshipping statues.

Incidentally the Scriptures are full of examples of bowing as a sign of reverence, not of worship.  
See Genesis 18:2
Genesis 23:7
Numbers 22:31
2 Samuel 9:6
Luke 24:5

Despite the numerous objections we Catholics might encounter regarding the practice of the veneration of the saints, each one can be indeed be refuted!

Catholics Come Home

"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


  1. 1 Timothy 2:1-7:
    1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

    That part makes sense... we should pray FOR (not to!) one another.

    3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.

    Notice verse 5... there is only ONE mediator between God and mankind- Jesus. Jesus rose from death to life. He is the one who is alive right now. Everyone else who has died in the past waits for Him to come again.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Samuel.

      You stated "we should pray FOR (not to!) one another". Firstly, I don't think there is any verse in Scripture that says this. As such, it is a man-made tradition to proclaim that we cannot pray to someone else besides God.

      "Praying to" is not the same as "worshipping". It's simply a way of asking for the saint's intercession.

      As far as there being ONE mediator between God and mankind--Jesus, Catholics give a hearty AMEN! However, if you use Prayer Chains in your church, then are you not asking your fellow Christians to mediate for you before the Throne of God?

      And if you use your fellow Christians here on earth as mediators, then why can't you use your fellow Christians in heaven as mediators as well?

    2. You stated "As such, it is a man-made tradition to proclaim that we cannot pray to someone else besides God. "... Praying with (or for) a friend is different than praying TO a friend. Not once in the Bible does anyone pray TO someone except to false gods and idols. ALWAYS in the Bible do people pray TO God, FOR others. (1 Timothy 2:1).

      Support your claims with the very book you believe in.

      Your fellow Christians who once lived are dead right now.

      1 Thessalonians 4:13-17:
      "13 And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died* so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.
      15 We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died.* 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died* will rise from their graves. 17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever."

      ...they will rise from their graves (because they are dead). Just food for thought!

    3. Perhaps, Samuel, it would be helpful if you removed the idea that "praying TO" someone = worship.

      There are numerous examples in English of the use of the word "pray" to mean "petition" or "asking".

      "What tidings send our scouts? I prithee, speak. " - Henry VI part 1

      That's simply the olde English way to say, "I pray you, please speak!". Here, there is no worship, but only a request.

      So prayer to the saints is nothing more and nothing less than asking for their intercession.

      And what could be wrong with that? It's quite Biblical--in fact, we are COMMANDED to pray for one another, right?!!

    4. As far as our "fellow Christians who once lived are dead right now"--no, they are alive in Christ in heaven, Samuel.

      If this were not so, then how would Moses and Elijah be able to come and appear to Jesus on earth?

    5. Finally, regarding your comment, "Not once in the Bible does anyone pray TO someone except to false gods and idols"

      it appears that your position is "If it's not in the Bible it's forbidden"...but, curiously, that would stop you from being able to do these things your church may do:

      -Bible studies (not once in the Bible is there an example of anyone hosting a Bible study)

      -having a steeple on your church (not once in the Bible is there an example of anyone having a steeple on their church)

      -having an altar call (not once in the Bible is there an example of anyone being called down for an altar call)

      -having an outdoor wedding (not once in the Bible is there an example of anyone getting married outdoors)

      -having a wedding in a church (not once in the Bible is there an example of anyone getting married in a church).

      So, Samuel, if you are using this paradigm: "I must have an example of something in the Bible in order for it to be licit", then you will have to remove a lot of practices from your church.

    6. Please explain to me what 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 (as I quoted above) means if you can claim our deceased brothers and sisters are presently in heaven? Christ has not yet come again. :(

    7. Thanks for your comment, Samuel.

      1 Thess 4: 13-17 proclaims this:

      Hope for the Christian Dead.
      We do not want you to be unaware, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep. Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord,* will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep.For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first.g Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together* with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord.

      And we understand that verse in light of the faith which gave us this verse: the Catholic Church, and in light of the Word of God in its entirety.

      So what this means, firstly, is that those who are "asleep" are dead. It is a euphemism for death. And there is nothing in that verse that states that the dead aren't in heaven or hell. It doesn't address it at all.

      Secondly, Catholics believe that those Christians who are alive at the time of Jesus' Second Coming will be gathered together with those who have died in Christ to be in heaven with the Lord.

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