Clearing Up the Confusion About Praying to the Saints

Misinformation about the teachings of the Catholic Church has been accelerating since 1517.  The words of the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen ring truer with each passing generation:

“There are not more than 100 people in the world who truly hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they perceive to be the Catholic Church.”1

The  Misstatement

Here is an example of a misconception regarding why Catholics pray to the saints for their intercessions.  As it appeared in a recent WordPress blog:

“They believe in perfectionism in this life, and they say that some of these saints have lived a perfect life. The result of this is that they have acquired and built up so much “merit” that they have much more than they need for themselves; so they have a superabundance of merit.”

“The result is that you and I, who may be failing and who are so lacking in merit, can go and pray to the saints and ask them to give to us a certain amount of their superabundance.”2

Saints’  Intercessory  Prayers  Are  Not  Like  Carbon  Tax  Cap/Trade

Outside of the Virgin Mary, no one, not even the saints, lived a “perfect life.”  In fact, some were far from it in their early days.  Just take a look at St. Augustine’s life!3

When we ask the saints to pray for us, we are not asking them to give us from their “excess merit.”  No, we are asking them to pray for us in the same way we pray for one another during times of trial in this life.  The saints are simply closer to God and they no longer have any need to pray for themselves.

Intercessory  Prayer  IS  Biblical

“And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints…”

Again, those in heaven have no need of prayers for themselves since they have already passed judgment.  They now praise God directly, so they are presenting our prayers.  If this sounds silly, then so it is when we pray for each other on earth.  And that is certainly not the case! (“… and pray for one another, that you may be healed” James 5:16)5

Speaking of intercessions, we remember that the first miracle of Jesus’ public life occurred as a result of an intercession.  At the Wedding Feast of Cana, Jesus’ mother Mary approached him with the request to solve the problem of the wine having run out.  She was interceding for the groom and attendants who were capable of asking Him directly.

The American spirit of individual initiative certainly has its good points.  Carried to an extreme, however, it can cause us to forget that the Church Victorious can assist those of us in the Church Militant on our earthly journey.  This is accomplished by the inspiration their lives can be for us AND their active intercessions on our behalf.

 

 

1 – “Archbishop Sheen Quotes,” www.catholicbible101.com/archbishopsheenquotes.html

2 – “Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Roman Catholicism,” https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/36351627/posts/18413

3 – “St. Augustine of Hippo is the patron of brewers because of his conversion from a former life of loose living, which included parties, entertainment, and worldly ambitions. His complete turnaround and conversion has been an inspiration to many who struggle with a particular vice or habit they long to break…,” http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=418

4 – Rev. 5:8 as found in The Holy Bible, revised standard version Catholic edition, Thomas Nelson & Sons, Toronto/Camden, NJ/London, 1966.

5 – Ibid.

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