Q. Why do Christians pray to the Saints?
Describe their attitude and expectations in these prayers.
Why is this prayer so misunderstood by non-Christians?
A. All who profess Christ, whether they be Catholic or not, commonly
ask one another to pray for them. It is a duty of Christians to pray for
one another. Since Catholic Christians live in the knowledge that those who
have passed on are not dead or insensible, and since "God is the God of the
living, and not the dead", they naturally turn to the Saints for intercession,
and place more confidence in their prayers than those fellow Christians who
have not completed their earthly sojourn. A Christian has great reverence
in approaching the Saints, since the Saints have been shown by God to be
"more than conquerors". We are in awe of their exploits, and recognize the
grace of God clearly in their witness and struggle. This is also natural,
even in the world. Men honor others who have performed great deeds, such
as a brave generals, or wise statesman. Since we are in awe of the Saints,
we render them honor when we ask their intercession, even more so than we
would honor a great man in the flesh. In every communication with the Saints,
we see the light of Christ, and rejoice in it, and do it honor. We know that
prayer to the Saints and asking their intercession is pleasing to God, because
of the witness of the Scriptures and the abundant experience of the Church.
Because we are assured that such prayers are pleasing, and because we recognize
the great grace that God has bestowed upon His Saints, we have great confidence
when we ask their intercessions. "In invoking the intercession of the saints,
the Church believes that the saints, who interceded with the Lord for the
peace of the world and for the stability of the holy churches of Christ while
living, do not cease doing this in Christ's heavenly, triumphant Church,
and listen to our entreaties in which we invoke them, and pray to the Lord,
and become bearers of the grace and mercy of the Lord." (St. Nectarios of
Pentapolis), "We ought to have the most lively spiritual union with the heavenly
inhabitants, with all the saints, apostles, prophets, martyrs, prelates,
venerable and righteous men, as they are all members of one single body,
the Church of Christ, to which we sinners also belong, and the living Head
of which is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. This is why we call upon them
in prayer, converse with them, thank and praise them. It is urgently necessary
for all Christians to be in union with them, if they desire to make Christian
progress; for the saints are our friends, our guides to salvation, who pray
and intercede for us." (St. John of Kronstadt), My Life in Christ. There
are many who profess faith in Christ but have almost no knowledge of the
intercession of the Saints, and even eschew this intimate knowledge and heavenly
intercourse as blasphemy. There are several reasons for this, including prejudice,
a lack of grounding in Christian Tradition, misunderstanding of Scripture,
and the abuses of some in Rome and in our own countries, but the primary
reason is that they do not fully understand the resurrection, and it's implications!
The Saints are not asleep or "dead". Our Lord Himself told us clearly that
"God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." (Mat 22:32). ( to be continued….