Why Catholics ask saints for prayer
This is in reaction to a religious advertisement titled “Worshipping God in Spirit and in Truth” (Page A3, 6/4/15).
Since it adverted unfavorably to some Catholic practices, allow me, as a Catholic, to explain why Catholics ask the saints to pray for them.
The advertisement sponsor, the Church of God International, suggests that Catholics do not follow the words of Jesus in “Worshipping God in Spirit and in Truth.” And it cites an exchange between Jesus and a Samaritan woman in John 4.
The specific passage, John 4:20-24, refers to the place of worship. The woman noted that the Jews said it should be Jerusalem, but the Samaritans believed that it should be in Mount Gerizim. But Jesus replied that time would come that true worship of the Father would be in the Spirit and in truth. That is the context of that passage. Jesus says nothing about asking the saints to pray. And nowhere in the Bible does God forbid Christians to ask the saints to pray for them.
Don’t we request our friends and our priests to pray for us? Why not the saints?
In the first century, Christians asked the saints to pray for them. In the catacombs in Rome are found ancient writings addressed to the saints (e.g., “St. Peter, pray for us,” “St. Paul, pray for us”).
Fundamentalists like members of The Church of God International claim that prayers and novenas to saints are “unbiblical.” Citing Jesus as the one mediator, they conclude that we should pray directly to Him, which Catholics do as well.
But is direct prayer the only way to God? Abimelech in the Old Testament begged God for forgiveness and was told to ask Abraham to pray for him so that he could be forgiven, though Abraham had already died then.
In Job 42:8, God told Elipaz, Bildad and Zophar, “Let my servant Job pray for you for his prayer I will accept and not punish you severely.”
In Hebrews 12:1, we read about a great cloud of martyred saints. That cloud of witnesses or martyrs are around us wherever we are, and we can reach out to them at any time to ask for their prayers as they present our prayer needs to Jesus.
As Catholic Christians, we are “worshipping God in the Spirit and in truth” in the Holy Mass and in our prayer life.
It is judgmental cults like The Church of God International that try to confuse Catholics by their false interpretation of the Scripture.
Jesus warns us about false prophets in the last days—that we must be aware of them, and that following them will lead us to peril.
In 1546, the Council of Trent examined the doctrines of the Protestant Reformers. After a careful study, their teaching was condemned based on Holy Scripture and the tradition of the apostles. The protestants are clearly in error.
Any Catholic may consult a priest whenever he is unsure of cult members knocking on his door and inviting him to join their faith, as they will lead him astray from the true faith.
Your priest will be happy to give you advice.
—REV. FR. V.W. GARDNER
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