Saint of the Day
St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)
A student of St. Albert the Great, Thomas was a priest who taught theology in Paris. There he wrote his great work, Summa Theologica. He once experienced a divine revelation which so enraptured him that he abandoned the Summa, saying that it was nothing compared to the true Glory of God. He died a few months later, and was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church.
Why do Catholics pray to Saints? Aren’t all Christians Saints?
Catholics fully agree that Paul refers to living Christians as saints. All of us in the body of Christ are saints.
It would be easy to conclude that this is the only way to use the word “saint.” However, long before the time of Christ, King David used the term “saint” while speaking to his fellow Jews, “Love the Lord all you his saints” (Psalm 31:23 NRSV and NIV). The KJB has over 80 instances of the word “saint” in the Old Testament that don’t refer to “living Christians” (i.e., 1 Sam.2, 2 Chr.6:41, Job.5:1, Prov.2:8, Dan.7:18, 21, Hos 11:12).
Even Paul sometimes gives the word a distinct meaning: “believers and saints” (Acts 9:32 ), “to the saints and faithful brothers” (Col 1:2). The term is used in a variety of contexts throughout the Bible. The word “saint” simply means “holy one” or “sanctified” (Sanctus). It could be a Jew of the Old Testament, a Christian of the New Testament, a faithful Christian living today, or a Christian in Heaven.
When Catholics say the word saint, they are usually talking about a specific kind of saint, a canonized saint. Catholics should probably be more explicit so as not to cause confusion.
The Church recognizes some Christians (saints) that have endured, entered Heaven and won the crown, and while there, have proven to be serious prayer warriors for us on earth. The Church must be convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that the saint is in heaven. This is why they go through so much scrutiny over each and every saint. When they canonize someone they are really saying: “Hey, this person had a very cool relationship to the Lord while on earth and now they are in heaven and are really praying hard for us.”
sn’t there only one mediator between God and man?
We got an email that said:
Christ is the one and only mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 8:6; 9:15; 12:24)…It can not be made any clearer in the scriptures that God wants to communicate with us directly, and to be cautious of those who try to step in to mediate.
1 Timothy 2 does not say that God wants us only to communicate with Jesus. It says there is only one mediator between God and man, which is a different thing. The passage does not say we should be cautious of asking people to pray for us. It doesn’t do anything of the sort. The chapter begins requiring intercessory prayer by third parties, indicating that it actually helps bring people to salvation and knowledge of truth. Any mother who prays for her children knows that.
“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone …This is good, and pleases God our Savior ….who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
We cannot read the rest of the chapter without considering that overarching idea. Christians in heaven pray through Christ much better than you and me. They are much closer to Christ than you and me. Evangelicals pray for each other, and they don’t say they are taking God’s place. When we pray for one another we are participating in the mediation, we are not the mediator. Catholics feel that saints in heaven, including Mary, can pray for us just as well (or infinitely better) than our friends on earth.
In Hebrews 8:6, it says Jesus has obtained a more excellent ministry than any of the high priests. In 9:15 and 12:24 the passage goes on to say He is the mediator of a New Covenant, Catholics fully agree. We fully agree He is the mediator. We think Christians in heaven are a heck of a lot more aware of who Christ is than we are. The Bible says that He has helpers that participate in his ministry by his invitation. We believe He has invited Christians on both sides of heaven to do that.
When a saint enters into the joy of their Master, they are “put in charge of many things” (Mat 25:21).
Saints are serious prayer warriors. We don’t think that praying with the Saints detracts from the worship of God anymore than praying with friends detracts from worship of God, which I do a lot. Saints are not all knowing, but they know a heck of a lot more about this spiritual game than me. They are creatures. This does not take away the tremendous benefit we can get from communing with them. Catholics think “their intercession is their most exalted service to God’s plan. We can and should ask them to intercede for us and for the whole world” (Catechism 2683)
“I don’t pray to dead people”
That is a slogan directed against Catholics that we hear a lot in Evangelical circles. The Catholic Church doesn’t think heaven is a “dead” place. Catholics believe people in heaven are alive. (Mat 19:29, 25:46, Mat 10:17-22, Mk 10:30, Lk 10:25-30, Lk 18:18-30, Jn 3:15-16). We see Lazarus alive by Abraham’s side (Lk 16:22). And at the transfiguration we see Moses and Elijah alive beside Jesus. (Mat 17:3) There seems to be a lot of conversing in Heaven (i.e. Rev 4:10). The Church thinks heaven is a lively place with lots of singing and celebration. Jesus opened the gates to Heaven. “Graves were opened.” (Mat 27:52). Jesus said, “Now he is a God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.” (Lk 20:39-40)
Keep Reading about Saints: http://www.catholicbridge.com/catholic/saints.php