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Does Praying to the Saints Mean

Catholics Worship Them, Too?


Karl Keating
https://www.catholic.com/magazine/online-edition/does-praying-to-
the-saints-mean-catholics-worship-them-too

March 03, 2017

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You might find a Fundamentalist who isnt particularly irked that
Catholics have statues in churches and maybe even in their living
rooms and gardens. He might realize that he does something similar:
he has photographs of his family on the mantelpiece. He might be
generous enough to admit that he uses those photographs to remind
himself of loved ones, so he can imaginejust barelythat Catholics
use statues, paintings, and icons to remind themselves of long-dead
Christians. Fine.
The real problem, he says, isnt that Catholics have statues, and he
knows that they dont actually pray to the statues as such. The real
problem is that Catholics pray to saints. (He wouldnt think of praying to
his dead Aunt Mildred.) That means you do worship the saints, he
says. At the least, your prayers to saints violate 1 Timothy 2:5, which
says, There is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ
Jesus.

First things first


Several things need to be said about such remarksafter giving him
credit and appreciation for what he admits regarding statues and
photographs.
First, prayers to saints, asking them to intercede with God for us, dont
violate 1 Timothy 2:5. If they did, then every Christian would stand
guilty of violating that verse. Why? Because every Christian prays for
other people.
After all, what is a mediator? Merely a go-between. When we pray for
others, we act as go-betweens, passing their concerns to God.
Fundamentalists regularly ask one another for prayers. They are right
to do this, because our Lord commanded that we pray for one another.
No Fundamentalist will say to another, No, I wont pray for you. Pray to
God straight! Instead, hell say, Ill gladly pray for you, and please pray
for me. In so praying he becomes a mediator.
This doesnt violate 1 Timothy 2:5, which really is telling us that our
prayers for one another are effectual precisely because Christ is the
one mediator. Without his mediation, our prayers would accomplish
nothing.

Don't forget the other verses


Fundamentalists often seem to begin the second chapter of 1 Timothy
with the fifth verse. At least thats how it is in most disputations. Its as
though the preceding four verses had faded from the pages of the
ancient manuscripts. Here are those verses in the King James Version:
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions,
and giving of thanks, be made for all men, for kings, and for all that are in
authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and
honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the
truth.

Notice that St. Paul asks for prayers not just for those in positions of
authority, such as kings, but for all men. He expects his readers to
pray for others. He doesnt list anyone who shouldnt be prayed for. If
were to lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty,
we certainly need to pray for civil leaders but surely also for everyone
else, since the quiet and peaceable life we seek is lived locally, among
everyday people.
So, the apostle asks that we pray for one another, and its proper to ask
others to prayfor our intentions, for their own intentions, for the
needs of all. If its proper to ask imperfect Christians on Earth to pray
for us, why should it be improper to ask perfected Christians in heaven
to pray for us?
Death doesnt separate us from Christ or the Church. In fact, death
brings us closer to both. Keep in mind the simile of the vine and the
branches. Christ is the vine, and we are the branches. This is a singular
vine: when a branch dies, it doesnt break off and fall away; it blossoms.
It is perfected. Through Christ we remain in communion with other
Christians on Earthand with Christians in heaven (and in purgatory).
On Earth we can ask for our friends prayers by calling them on the
phone, sending e-mail, using sign language. The only way we can
communicate with the saints is through prayer. How can they hear us?
We dont know the mechanics of it, but then we dont know the
mechanics of how God hears prayers, either. To say he hears prayers
because hes omnipotent is no answer. That still doesnt tell us how he
does it. To claim that saints cant hear us opens us to the claim that God
cant hear us either, and no Fundamentalist believes that.

What's missing is telling


What seems to be the real problem for Fundamentalists? Why do they
get so annoyed with Catholics praying to saints? Ultimately, I think, its
because they dont have the Mass. The Mass is the highest form of
worship possiblesacrifice. The Protestant Reformers did away with
the Mass, so all that Fundamentalists (distant heirs of the Reformers)
have to fall back on, as the highest form of worship available to them, is
straight prayer. Prayer to saints easily can be confused with prayer to
God, if prayer to God is the best one can do. The result: the worship of
God may seem indistinguishable from the worship (in the old sense)
of saints.
Catholics dont have this problem. Yes, we pray to God, but we also
have the Mass, which is radically unlike mere prayer and which honors
God alone. Its easier for Catholics to keep their honoring
compartmentalized. Despite hoary stories to the contrary, there have
been almost no Catholics who have confused honoring saints with
adoring God. That may be why, when Catholics see Fundamentalists
kneeling with the Bible in their hands, they never think the
Fundamentalists are worshipping a book. The thought just never occurs
to them.