Saints and Fathers

 Barry wrote in my combox today – in response to my post entitled “Where Does the Bible Say We Should Pray to Dead Saints?” – Resources about Communion of the Saints I thought I would respond briefly.

Barrry wrote: Would you please read the Lord’s prayer. Jesus prayed it. He was giving an example of how to pray. He didn’t pray to Peter, Paul, Mary, or John-who took care of Jesus’s mother and wrote Revelation. No, He prayed to His Father. This is Jesus Himself praying, should we not follow Him, as He asked Peter and His disciples to follow Him. This reference in 350AD is close to 270 years or more after the disciples died. The disciples who wrote the gospel. Do their words of what Christ told them mean nothing?

STEVE RAY RESPONDS BRIEFLY:

FIRST, thanks for writing Barry and God bless you. You start out with a seeming tone of condescension. Of course, I have read the Lord’s Prayer, in fact, I have it memorized :-)  By the way, we Catholics refer to John 17 as the Lords’ Prayer. What you call the Lords’ Prayer we usually refer to as the Our Father.

Card-85-Holy-Spirit-backSECOND, is it ONLY to the Father that we should pray? Is Jesus’ example restricting us from “praying” to anyone else? This seems to be your implication. However, should we also pray to Jesus? Is that allowed? And what about the Holy Spirit? Should we pray to him or is that disallowed? According to your statements above we should not pray to Jesus and the Holy Spirit! If you say we are allowed (and should) pray to the Holy Spirit you may be interested to know that nowhere in Scripture are we told to do that nor do we have an example of someone who does. Yes, most Christians would agree we should pray to Jesus and the Holy Spirit as well as to the Father.

THIRD, The words pray and worship are two different words with different meanings. Pray Is to ask for something, it means a petition or a request. Worship means to do just that, worship and adore. Worship is something reserved for the Trinity alone. Protestants tend to see pray and worship as synonyms which is one reason they often react so negatively to the reality of the intercession of the saints.

When we pray to Saint it is not worshiping them. It is asking them to intercede WITH us as we pray to God himself. God is the only one who can answer prayers.

15445tca0714_ChristGlorifiedFOURTH, when Jesus was on the earth the Saints were not yet in glory–heaven had not been opened yet. When Jesus ascended to heaven he brought the dead with him into the presence of God. From that point on they’re in the presence of God himself and can intercede personally for people still on earth (or do you think they can’t or don’t care?) 

Like I asked my mother who doubts the saints are aware of things on the earth and can intercede for us. “Do you think Dad has forgotten you, doesn’t care about you anymore or isn’t ask the Lord to bless you? Dad is sitting in his favorite chair having coffee with Our Lord Jesus waiting for you to arrive to love you better than ever before. In the meantime, he is praying for you and very intent on your well being. (Read my article, “Marriage in Heaven? Will We Know and Love our Spouses in Heaven?”

Transfiguration-1024x670FIFTH, we are commanded to pray for each other and to ask others to pray for us. We believe the church is one organic body not split up and divided. Those in heaven are part of the body of Christ like we are. We ask them to intercede for us just like I could ask you to intercede for me.

Even though right now I can’t see you or talk to you personally I can use technology to do it to ask you to intercede for me. I don’t know how spiritual technology works but I certainly trust the Scriptures and the Church. The Saints are very much alive in the presence of God and they are concerned about what’s going on down on earth (consider Moses at the Transfiguration in Luke 9:30-31). The Saints in the presence of God in heaven can easily request of God benefits on our behalf.

SIXTH, Believers have been asking for the prayers of the Saints since the beginning. All one has to do is look at the graffiti left in the catacombs to see where they said from the first centuries “Peter and Paul pray for us”. In the catacombs of St. Sebastian there’s one segment of wall covering the former tombs of Sts.  Peter and Paul. There are 614 requests for intersession scratched into the wall from the very first Christians. They were (praying=asking) for the intercession of these two great martyrs and saints.

Screen Shot 2017-12-12 at 11.30.10 AMThis is just scratching the surface. There is so much more to say but if you’re interested you’ll find the sources. If you’re not then I feel sorry for you. I am so happy that back in my former years as a Protest-ant it was just “Me and Jesus” but now the heavens have opened and I realize I am part of something much bigger, the Mystical Body of Christ with the Communion of the Saints. Blessed be God forever.

I recommend Patrick Madrid’s book Any Friend of God’s is a Friend of Mine.

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I compiled a list of Catechism, Scripture and quotes from the early Church Fathers and even archaeology to assist in understanding the Communion of Saints.

You can download the source material here.

Sample:

Graffiti found in Catacombs of St. Sebastian

Who should carry the most weight—Protestant pastors protesting Catholic theology today or pastors from the early Church who have the words of the Apostles still ringing in their ears?

From earliest times Christians went to the gravesites of saints and asked them to pray for them. This picture shows graffiti from the Catacombs of St. Sebastian in Rome with inscriptions in Hebrew, Greek and Latin imploring the prayers of Peter and Paul. “Petrus and Paulus, pray for us!”  “Peter and Paul, pray for victory.”

St. Cyril

“Peter and Paul, pray for us”

In 350 A.D., St. Cyril wrote a remarkable and exquisitely detailed description of the Mass, which clearly corresponds with today’s Mass. In it we find this beautiful statement on the family of God which we all belong to, and which even today we pray for in every Mass:

“Upon completion of the spiritual Sacrifice, the bloodless worship, over that propitiatory victim, we call upon God for the common peace of the Churches, for the welfare of the world, for kings, for soldiers and allies, for the sick, for the afflicted, and in summary, we all pray and offer this Sacrifice for all who are in need.

“Then we make mention also of those who have already fallen asleep: first, the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, that through their prayers and supplications God would receive our petition; next, we make mention also of the holy fathers and bishops who have already fallen asleep, and, to put it simply, of all among us who have already fallen asleep; for we believe that it will be of very great benefit to the souls of those for whom the petition is carried up, while this holy and most solemn Sacrifice is laid out.”           (The Faith of the Early Fathers,’ Vol. 1, William A. Jurgens, [Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 1970] p. 363.). 

The faithful in heaven and on earth are united in the Mystical Body of Christ through the Person of Jesus. This is the meaning of the Communion of Saints.

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Feast Day of St. Justin Martyr, June 1
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