40 Myths About the Catholic Church–Praying “to” the saints

“Why do Catholics pray to the saints.  Only God can answer prayers.”

True enough.  Only God can answer our prayers.  The fact is that we don’t pray to the saints.  We ask the saints to pray for us.  The “litany of the saints” that we say on special occasions concludes with the words “pray for us.”  No Catholic, at least no Catholic who understand his or her faith, ever prays to a saint.

So, what’s the deal?  First of all, we believe that the saints are in heaven.  They are in God’s presence.  Second, we believe that saints have a special connection to us either through our location, through our occupation, through our station in life, or in some other way.  When Catholics are confirmed, we take the name of a saint.  In my case, it’s Saint Patrick.  When I pray, I ask Patrick to pray for me.  Since I’ve adopted him as my personal patron, I believe that he will intercede for me.  I think of him as a friend who lives in heaven.

I live in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis.  Saint Louis IX is the patron of the Archdiocese.  I believe that he takes a special interest in those of us who live in his namesake city.  Saint Rose Phillipine Du Chesne and Saint Vincent De Paul are also patrons of our Archdiocese.

The Church has designated certain saints as patrons of vocations and occupations.  Saint Stephen, the first deacon, is the patron of deacons, along with Saint Lawrence, and Saint Francis of Assissi.  All three were deacons.  According to saints.sqpn.com, there are 23 saints who were deacons, and that doesn’t include the three that I’ve listed.

Maybe you, or someone you love has cancer.  Saints.sqpn.com lists six patrons saints for you to choose from.  On his feast day, February 3, we pray to Saint Blaise, patron of diseases of the throat.  Here’s a good example of praying through a saint.  When the congregation present themselves for the blessing, the deacon or priest lays crossed candles around the neck and prays,”Through the intercession of Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr, may you be free from all diseases of the throat and every other illness.” The key word here is “intercession”.  We’re not praying to Saint Blaise.  We’re asking him to pray for us.

Maybe you’re a nurse.  You have eight patrons.  Soldiers, you have sixteen.  Even lawyers have eleven patron saints.  The list goes on and on.  The bottom line is that none of these folks can answer your prayers, but they can put in a good word for you.

Many of our protestant brothers and sisters think it’s scandalous that we try to sneak up on God through this spiritual back door.  But the same people will ask you or me to pray for them.  It’s the same thing.  Remember the parable of the persistent widow?  She kept coming back over and over again until the judge relented.  Likewise, I can ask God to bless my ministry.  Or, I can flood heaven with prayers from my patron saints, my friends, and my family.  This takes nothing from God.  It just moves the process along.  I can ask for something 100 times, or I can ask ten people (living and dead) to pray for me ten times.  The result is the same.

Of course, only God answers prayers.  To think otherwise is not Christian.  But if you have friends who have His ear, it doesn’t hurt if they put in a good word for you.

Saints of God, pray for us.

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4 Responses

  1. when asked this question by a friend my reply was – well you ask friends to pray for you right? you request others to join in with you, you join prayer chains and such. Well think of the saints this way, as prayer buddies. There is no specific definition that a prayer buddy has to be alive, my prayer buddies just happen to have done some great things and I ask them to join me in prayer.

  2. I agree, asking a saint to intercede for us, is just like asking a good friend to pray for us.

  3. Great site! You have some wonderful inspirational messages. Thank you. Please visit us at http://www.catholicprayergroup.net

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