Praying to the Saints

By Rev. John J. Burke.

"And may the angel that delivereth me from all evils bless these boys" (Gen. xlviii. 16).

"So I say to you there shall be joy before the angels of God upon one sinner doing penance" (Luke xv. 10).

"For in the resurrection they [the saints] shall be as the angels of God in heaven" (Matt. xxii. 10).


THE saints are friends of God. They are like the angels in heaven. We honor them, not as we honor God, but on account of the relation they bear to God. They are creatures of God, the work of His hands. When we honor them, we honor God; as when we praise a beautiful painting, we praise the artist.

We do not believe that the saints can help us of themselves. But we ask them to "pray for us." We believe that everything comes to us "through Our Lord Jesus Christ." With these words all our prayers end. It is useful, salutary, and reasonable to pray to the saints and ask them to pray for us. No doubt all will admit the reasonableness of this practice if the saints can hear and help us.

That they hear and help us is evident from many passages of Scripture. The patriarch Jacob would not have prayed to the angel to bless his grandchildren Manasses and Ephraim (as we learn he did from Gen. xlviii.), unless he knew the angel could do so.

We are informed (Luke xv.) that the angels rejoice when one sinner does penance. We are also informed (Matt xxii.) that the saints are like the angels—i.e., have the same happiness and knowledge.

Hence the saints, as well as the angels, can hear us, can help us, and are acquainted with our actions, words, and thoughts.

It is generally conceded that it is reasonable to ask pious persons on earth to pray for us. St. Paul, in his epistles, frequently asks the Christians to pray for him. "Brethren," he says, "pray for us." It is well known that God was pleased to answer the prayer of Abraham in favor of Abimelech. "More things are wrought by prayer than this world knows of." Now, if we poor sinners here on earth do not pray in vain for one another, will the saints in heaven, the friends of God, who rejoice when a sinner does penance, pray in vain for us? No. We have hosts of friends in heaven to speak a good word for us. And as a child who has disobeyed his parents wisely asks a better brother or sister to intercede with his parents for mercy, so, too, having disobeyed our heavenly Father by sin, we have recourse to others better than ourselves, to our better brothers and sisters, the Blessed Virgin and saints, to intercede with God for us.

Is not this a reasonable practice?

If your mother or sister crosses the sea she will continue to pray for you. And if she crosses the sea of death will she forget you? No. The love she bore you here will continue in heaven. She will pray for you, and the "Lord will hear the prayers of the just." Ask the saints to pray to your God and their God for you. Honor God by honoring His friends and asking their intercession. And all your friends in heaven will unite in praying to the Father of us all that one day all who love God and His friends, the saints, may be admitted with them into the company of the Saint of saints, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.


This is taken from Reasonableness of Catholic Ceremonies and Practices.





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