Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Communion of Saints: We don't worship Mary and the Saints

What happens when a door to door evangelist from the Jehovah’s Witness sect or even a Baptist or Non-Denominational? What do we say when they tell us that “you worship Mary and the Saints”? This “attack” is a key tactic for protestant apologists against Catholics. The reason may be that Mary and the Saints are such a big part of the Church (of course not the center) and many Catholics don’t quite understand what we truly believe in regards to Mary and the Saints; and that leaves us vulnerable.

First and foremost, we don’t worship Mary, the Saints, statues, flowers, grass, clouds…or anything the protestants may try to convince us that we worship. We worship GOD in the form of the trinity, just like most protestants (excluding those Jehovah’s). For some very detailed (and free) talks, check out John Martignoni at
http://www.biblechristiansociety.com/download. The long and the short of it is we venerate Mary and the Saints. It is just like keeping a picture of grandma in your wallet (regardless of whether she is still alive). Looking at the picture reminds us of weekends and grandma’s house, homemade pie, and Christmas dinners long ago. Why not remind ourselves of those who lived saintly lives (as did Mary and the Saints). They remind us how to live. The other aspect, of course, is praying TO Mary and the Saints. They are in heaven, very close to GOD, especially Mary. If you would be willing to ask your friends to pray for you before surgery, for example, why not ask those close to God in Heaven to pray for you?

The reality of praying to Mary and the Saints is a very important part of the Communion of Saints. James 5:16 says, “therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.” Who is more “righteous” than someone already in Heaven? The catechism tells us that “the communion of saints is the Church” (946), reminding us, of course, that “the most important member is Christ, since he is the head.” (947). As members of this Communion of Saints we are in one of three camps. The first is where we all are (unless you are reading this in heaven, in that case, please pray for me, Oh Saint). We are a part of the Church Militant on earth. As “pilgrims” (954), we are vulnerable to attacks from evil, since we are not yet in an eternal position of salvation. The second group is those “being purified” (954) in purgatory (see my last article). The final group are “[in the] glory, contemplating ‘in full light, God himself triune and one, exactly as he is’”(954).
Scripture tells the story so poetically:
“We do not want you to be unaware, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the , who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep. Indeed, we tell you this on the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the lord, will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, console one another with these words.” (1 Thes 4: 13-18)

Why wouldn’t anyone want access to this gloriousness? The glory of praying for the intercession (which simply means having them pray to Jesus for us) is immense. Think of praying to “Our Lady”. Pope Paul VI said of Mary, “we believe that the Holy Mother of God, the new Eve, Mother of the Church, continues in heaven to exercise her maternal role on behalf of the members of Christ”. Mary takes our prayers, like a protective mother, however imperfect those prayers are, and wraps them in her glory and presents them to Jesus for us. Remember that great moment in John’s Gospel (John 2: 1-12) at the Wedding Feast at Cana when Jesus turns the water into wine at the request of his Mother (our Mother).

Jesus has given us a great grace in the Communion of Saints. We have, at our behest, the prayers of all living, dead (in purgatory), and those “righteous” souls in Heaven at the side of Christ. Words cannot express what this truly means. We, in our state as sinners, can reach out to Saints who suffered just as we did, but overcame worldly temptations. Check out this sight for some of the patron saints to pray to for certain causes, (http://www.catholic.org/saints/patron.php). Remember, too, that we have a duty to pray to God for those souls in Purgatory as part of our role in this communion. Your rewards will be great from those you have helped get into heaven. I think they will be grateful. For those who tell you that the Church is wrong in her belief of praying to Mary and the Saints, pray for them (to Mary for their conversion). While we all certainly agree on praying to the Lord, they are missing out on so much. Praying to Mary and the Saints takes nothing away (even time and prayers) from Jesus. He is the head of the mystical body of Christ (which is the Church= Communion of Saints). He hears all of our prayers even if we are asking for an intercession . John Martignoni does a great job simplifying this. He uses the analogy of an injury to your hand; while your hand feels the pain, it is only because the brain sends signals for that to happen (Jesus). Martignoni does it much better than I. Get the free talk for more. Bottom line, never feel you are “short changing” Jesus by praying for intercessions. For more, check out www.catholic.com.

9 comments:

frival said...

Nicely done, Commuter. We can use all the folks we can get helping to explain those things in our faith others find difficult to understand.

Anonymous said...

I am very sorry that you feel that praying to saints and Mary for intecessionary prayer is somehow needed. As if Jesus dying on the cross was not enough for us to feel that we should go to him directly in prayer! Nowhere in the bible did Jesus say anything about interc. prayer when it comes to conversation with him and God. I pray that the holy spirit guides you away from this false practice.

Do your research and you will discover that this idea of Mary was not embraced by everyone in the middle ages. Need proof that Mary was not to be venerated? Look at what Jesus told his followers: Luke 11:27 As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, "Blessed is the mother who gave birth and
nursed you", He replied "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it"

What was Jesus' attitude toward Mary being recognized by other Christians? She was to be recognized as a regular Christian,
in fact, he even said that we Christians are in leaque with his earthly family if we follow him (Matthew 13:55)
"Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" "Here are my mother and brothers, pointing to the crowd" "For whoever does
the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."

May God lead your footsteps closer to him.

God bless you,
Sumiko

mary said...

Praying to Mary and other dead people is idolatry. The bible speaks against it. It is dangerous because it allows satan to enter in and take over your life. In the novena to Mary it says "mother we come to you on our knees sinful and sorrowful, we dedicate and consecrate our lives to you." This is absolute idolatry and it is dangerou because you are allowing satan to take control. You don't need to go through dead people and yes Mary is just as dead, in order for Jesus to do something. Those who are alive pray for each other, and this is good.

mary said...

Take it all to Jesus, He said give me all your joys and sorrows, and He will lighten your burdens and will forgive your sins because He died for iniquity. Bible says to pray in His name and in no other.

Anonymous said...

From Latin venerātus, perfect passive participle of veneror (worship, reverence).

Anonymous said...

I have heard these arguments from Catholics so many times. They do pray to Mary and those they call saints. We are to have no intercessors but Jesus Christ. Mary was totally human, a sinner in need of a saviour as we all are. The RCC readily admits to changing the 10 commandments, changing God's Sabbath to the first day of the week, claiming the Pope as infallible, bowing to idols and statues, and the list goes on and on. The book of Revelation tells us to 'come out of her lest you share in her iniquities'. The 'her' is the RCC. Do not align yourself with this false religion. This antichrist will lead you to perdition. I pray daily for the souls that are lost following the doctrine of man instead of the Word of God.

Gatsby said...

The people who reject the idea head on has no right to do so unless they learn from the church they are rejecting. I think this makes perfect sense. Thank you for putting this situation in explainable words.

Anonymous said...

We do not worship idols. We do not even have idols.

We have a few images of Jesus Christ, God the Son. And we have a few images of people we love and respect, our family and loved ones in heaven.

A little girl kneels beside her bed saying her nightly prayers. Is the little girl kneeling to the bed? Is the bed an idol? Of course not, the little girl is kneeling and praying to God.

A family bows their heads and prays over their evening meal. Is the family bowing to their food? Is this food an idol? Of course not, the family is bowing and praying to God.

A mother kneels in prayer before a cross and prays that her son in Afghanistan will be safe. Is the mother kneeling to the cross? Is the cross an idol? Of course not, the mother is kneeling and praying to God.

Do you have pictures of your loved ones? Have you ever looked at the picture of someone while talking on the phone to them? Is the picture an idol?

Statues, pictures, and symbols of people we love are not idols.

Statues, pictures, and symbols of Jesus and the saints are just like pictures of the people we love and respect.

The King James Version of the Bible states in Exodus 20:4: "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth"

Why were the Jews commanded not to make graven images? Graven images were the standard method of pagan worship. They were representations of false gods.

This is a very clear command.

However God commanded the Jews in Exodus 25:18 and 1 Chronicles 28:18–19, "And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them"

And in 1 Kings chapter 7 Solomon made bulls and other images out of precious metals.

It seems obvious that the Jews did not worship the cherubims and Solomon did not worship the bulls he had made. These images did not violate the command of God. Therefore, an image not made for worship is acceptable.

In Numbers 21:8-9, "And the LORD said to Moses, "Make a seraph and mount it on a pole, and if anyone who has been bitten looks at it, he will recover." Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole, and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent looked at the bronze serpent, he recovered."

And in John 3:14-15, Jesus says in correlation, "And just as Moses lifted up the [image of a] serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life."

How can a statue of our Lord Jesus Christ dead on the cross be considered an idol to a false god? A crucifix is the message of the Gospel without words held up for all to see, a visual reminder of the sacrifice of Jesus, no different from a painting, a play, or a movie.

How can a nativity set set up in your house to constantly remind you and teach your children of God's love for us be idolatry?

Catholics do not worship statues but the almighty God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

With love in Christ.

Anonymous said...

Catholics do NOT worship idols.

Deut. 4:15 - from this verse, Protestants say that since we saw "no form" of the Lord, we should not make graven images of Him.

Deut. 4:16 - of course, in early history Israel was forbidden to make images of God because God didn't yet reveal himself visibly "in the form of any figure."

Deut. 4:17-19 - hence, had the Israelites depicted God not yet revealed, they might be tempted to worship Him in the form of a beast, bird, reptile or fish, which was a common error of the times.

Exodus 3:2-3; Dan 7:9; Matt. 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32; Acts 2:3- later on, however, we see that God did reveal himself in visible form (as a dove, fire, etc).

Deut. 5:8 - God's commandment "thou shall not make a graven image" is entirely connected to the worship of false gods. God does not prohibit images to be used in worship, but He prohibits the images themselves to be worshiped.

Exodus 25:18-22; 26:1,31 - for example, God commands the making of the image of a golden cherubim. This heavenly image, of course, is not worshiped by the Israelites. Instead, the image disposes their minds to the supernatural and draws them to God.

Num. 21:8-9 - God also commands the making of the bronze serpent. The image of the bronze serpent is not an idol to be worshiped, but an article that lifts the mind to the supernatural.

I Kings 6:23-36; 7:27-39; 8:6-67 - Solomon's temple contains statues of cherubim and images of cherubim, oxen and lions. God did not condemn these images that were used in worship.

2 Kings 18:4 - it was only when the people began to worship the statue did they incur God's wrath, and the king destroyed it. The command prohibiting the use of graven images deals exclusively with the false worship of those images.

1 Chron. 28:18-19 - David gives Solomon the plan for the altar made of refined gold with a golden cherubim images. These images were used in the Jews' most solemn place of worship.

2 Chron. 3:7-14 - the house was lined with gold with elaborate cherubim carved in wood and overlaid with gold.

Ezek. 41:15 - Ezekiel describes graven images in the temple consisting of carved likenesses of cherubim. These are similar to the images of the angels and saints in many Catholic churches.

Col. 1:15 - the only image of God that Catholics worship is Jesus Christ, who is the "image" (Greek "eikon") of the invisible God.