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.