Thursday, 4 March 2010

Communion of Saints

I'm young, I'm naive, and I'm curious - all religion fascinates me. I was wondering why Catholics seem to pray to saints rather than Jesus / God directly. For example the Hail Mary's; why do you pray to Mary and ask her to pray for you? Does the bible not teach that we should pray to no man, bow to no graven image or statue? I'm not meaning to sound cruel or judgmental, I just want to understand. I would really appreciate an answer. Thank you. - Amanda

Jesus Christ is the one and only shepherd of the flock, ie the Church (John 10: 16). Yet in a subordinate way He shares His shepherding with others, beginning with Peter (John 21: 15-17) and extends it later to others (Eph. 4: 11). The saints in heaven are aware of what is going on, and they specifically pray for things that go on here on earth. The saints in heaven are not bound by time and space as we are. In eternity, 1 John 3: 2 tells us: "Beloved, we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."

Certainly by the year 100 AD Christians were honouring other Christians who had died, and asking for their intercession. Many people think that honouring saints was something the Church set up later, but it was part of Christianity from the beginning. Why do you keep pictures of your loved ones in your wallet or around your home or office? You might answer that you carry those pictures to remind you of people you love, to help you feel that they are close to you when you are not together, or to share with people you meet. You would not say you worshipped them. Those are some of the same reasons Catholics have statues and pictures of saints. Seeing a statue of St Therese of Lisieux who lost her mother when she was a child might make us feel less alone when we are grieving. A picture of St Francis of Assisi might remind us of how much he loved God's creation and make us more aware of our environment. Prayers to saints are meant to be a humble request to the saint, asking them to pray on the person's behalf. This practice has both Biblical and Church support, assuming one does not cross the line from prayer to worship. When a Catholic prays to a saint, they are not worshiping the saint, but rather asking the saint to pray for them. It is not meant to be any different than one person asking another person to pray for them. The saint and the person are praying together to Jesus Christ who alone we worship. Christ uniquely mediates between God the Father and men.

Mary's chief glory is in her nothingness, in the fact of being the "Handmaid of the Lord," as one who in becoming the Mother of God acted simply in loving submission to His command, in the pure obedience of faith. She is blessed not because of some mythical pseudo-divine prerogative, but in all her human and womanly limitations as one who has believed. It is the faith and the fidelity of this humble handmaid, "full of grace" that enables her to be the perfect instrument of God, and nothing else but His instrument. The work that was done in her purely the work of God. "He that is mighty hath done great things in me." The glory of Mary is purely and simply the glory of God in her. And she, like anyone else, can say that she has nothing that she has not received from Him through Christ.

Like all Christians, Catholics believe in life after death. Those who have lived good lives and died in the faith of Christ will, as the Bible tells us, share in His resurrection. While we live together on earth as Christians, we are in communion, or unity, with one another. But that communion does not end when one of us dies. We believe that Christians in heaven, the saints, remain in communion with those of us on earth.

“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2: 5)

No comments:

Post a Comment