Protestant pastor bleg

Protestant pastor bleg

A Methodist pastor has emailed me with a request. He’s interested in reading more about the Catholic faith in general and about praying to the Saints in particular. Can you all provide some recommendations?

  • I’m not interested in converting but I am interested in knowing more about what Catholics believe.  I have had a lady in my church ask me about the Catholic faith in general but specifically about praying to Saints.  (I must say I would look good in black with a white collar but I’m married so I guess that leaves that out!  Big Grin!)

  • (Oops, I ran out of space – I’ll split this up in two sections…)

    I’m going suggests the ‘Catechism of the Catholic Church’, 2nd Edition. I was just flipping through the prayer section in general – it’s short, concise, and hits the high points (verbal, meditative and contemplative). In general, it’s a little dry to read from start to finish, but just flip open to some topic that’s on your mind, and start there. I think it works pretty well, but read it all at some point.

    With that, Butler’s “Lives of the Saints” is the right work, I think. I think it works best if you know who you are asking and why. After that, the writings of the Saints themselves: horse’s mouth and all that. Find someone who interests you and start there. I like (not in any order, I don’t play favorites) John of the Cross, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Ignatius, whoever wrote PseudoDionysius. But, I’m a bit of a head-y, mystic type, there’s plenty of others out there.

    Some charge us by saying we ‘pray to dead people’. What possible reason could we have for doing that? That’s would be just silly. We pray only to the living, only those who live in and through Christ.

    Also, as you know well, we don’t pray to the saints, in the sense of giving them worship (latria, iirc), but in the sense of ‘asking’ them – petitioning them, perhaps is a good translation. We do talk to them, and they talk to us – in their writings, in how they lived their lives, and through our shared Communion. And, sometimes, we ask them to pray for us – to petition God on our behalf.

    A question for your Methodist friend: do you have any problem asking a friend to pray for you – to ask God for something on your behalf? Probably not. Then, why not ask a friend you’ve not yet met, but who sees the Beatific Vision and through which knows you and happens to have an abundance, to pray for you? (What, you think you don’t need extra prayers? You’re fooling yourself, bucko…:-) Take all the help you can get.)


  • (part II – after the 120 second comment timeout. All because I couldn’t figure out how to cut 237 characters out to make the 3500 char limit grin

    I think understanding this goes to the essence of the Church Universal: Church Militant (us, struggling), Suffering (souls in Purgatory) and Triumphant (souls in heaven).

    Saints, who are defined to be not in
    purgation (see Catherine of Genoa’s treatise on Purgatory, it’s really good, available on the net), retain their free will and ability to act, just as we do. If I, God willing, make it to the Kingdom, I know I’d be happy to pray for your pastor friend if I was asked, so given that, I’m pretty sure any of the Saints would be happy to do so as well: Your patron Saint, the Holy Angels, your personal Guardians each have a special relationship with you in the Communion. In some sense, they Love you specially – in concert with (and never in opposition to) the Love of God.

    In fact, tell your friend I will do it in my evening prayers, regardless of whether he asks – and I’m not even anything close to a Saint.  But, the difference, perhaps, is that while I’m just a random guy, asking a Saint to pray for that something that’s in their purview also has the benefit of reminding you what _they_ did and why, so you can emulate them. (Presumably, if you didn’t know something about them, you wouldn’t know to ask them, now would you?)

    The Communion of Saints is one of the unmitigatedly good things about being Catholic. The heroes of the Church show us a path defined to be ordered to Christ. I’ve always thought of them like a gallery of people I’d Love, given the chance, who happened to have lived at a different time, and who cheer for me when I do right, and, in the Spirit, comfort me when I do wrong. A new Family in God’s grace, brothers and sisters all. Thanks and Praise be to God for the great gift of the Communion of Saints!

  • It is really rather simple out2, you pray to saints (or even to dead* loved ones) to ask them to pray for some intention of yours or to thank them for doing so.  Praying to a saint is very different from praying to God in that no adoration is given to any creature but God.

    *On earth, that is.

  • Catholic Answers has a good web site and online library about Catholic beliefs.
    The Catholic Catechism by John Hardon, S.J. is also very good, thoroughly orthodox and good at discussing the historical development of various beliefs and practices.

  • “A Map of Life” by Frank Sheed is really good, and it’s a pretty short book.  “Catholic Sourcebook” is an excellent reference book for Catholic customs and traditions.  “Why do Catholics Genuflect?” by Al Kresta – Q&A and general information about Catholicism.

  • any friend of god’s is a friend of mine don’t remember who wrote it = maybe patrick madrid?

  • Q:What happens to the souls of those who live a heroic Christian life and have – as St. John says – purified themselves?

    A: They reign with Christ.

    Q: Can they hear our prayers?

    A: There is one body of Christ, aka the communion of saints.  Hebrews pictures the martyrs cheering us on in the stadium as we run the Christian race.  Revelations pictures the saints as delivering our prayers to God in Heaven.

    Q: Is praying to the saints condemned by the Bible as conjuring up the dead?

    A: They are not dead.

    Q: What good does it do to seek the intercession of the saints?

    A: The prayer of a righteous man availeth much.  Surely, they care deeply about their early brethren.  Surely, their work in Heaven is some logical extension of their co-redemptive work on earth.

    Q: Isn’t it enough to pray to God directly?

    A: It sure is but God in His infinite mercy has also given us the saints to help us, especially he has made our mother in the order of grace the Queen of Heaven.  What a gift!  What a consolation to Christians!

    Q: Is there some risk of idolatry in praying to the saints?

    A: We do not worship them but we honor them.  Anyone who honors the family and friends of a great king, honors the king.  In the early stages of evangelizing a culture the invocation of some saint may replace a similar idolatrous pagan practice.  Where this process has gone awry or where people are ignorant of their faith there can be abuses.

    Q: If so, what is the value in encouraging this practice?

    A: It impresses upon our spiritual life the fact that we are saved as a people and not as isolated individuals dealing one on one with God.  This benefit is especially important in modern, individualistic America. 

    Q: But it’s not in the Bible.

    A: It is a practice that arose naturally in the early centuries of the Church as a logical extension of the gospel and the common life of Christians.  As it emerges, the Church Fathers treat the invocation of saints as a natural thing for Christians to do.