Here is this week's poll question: "Do you pray to the saints? If not, why not?"
If you don't care, please leave a comment on this post if you answered no (you can also click the link below the poll, in my sidebar). I would like to allay any fears that you all may have in regard to praying to the saints.
My current debate on this topic somewhat saddens me b/c it basically means that millions of non-Catholic Christians have no notion (or at least an inferior notion) of what it means to be a member of the mystical Body of Christ. Even though Jesus conquered death and the saints in heaven experience membership in the Body to the fullest extent imaginable, protestants fight tooth and nail for a total separation between the saints in heaven and the saints on earth, to the disparagement of all the good and holy men and women who came before us. And I guess it makes sense. "Communion" is difficult to esteem when your rule of faith (sola scriptura) encourages division, and praying to saints is difficult to accept when that same rule of faith causes you to make unrealistic demands upon Scripture before you will believe something.
It's a gift from God to be able to ask those who behold the unmediated face of God to pray for us. Who better to pray for us than these holy saints? I wish more protestants knew what they were missing, and I wish I knew better how to create within them that knowledge.
If you are a Catholic who has always felt a little hesitant when it came to praying to the saints, do not allow yourself to be scandalized by the protestant objections. Whenever I first got into apologetics and I became familiar with the arguments against what Catholics do, I found myself being more particular about my wording when I would pray to the saints. I would never petition them directly, for fear that I would give God the impression that I was turning the saints into idols.
But this is ludicrous. Do not be afraid. Praying to the saints is a good and holy practice. The saints are powerful. They can console us, and there is nothing wrong with asking them directly for their aid. Technically speaking, we know that they aid us by praying for us, and that all aid ultimately comes from God. But, when we petition them, they become instrumental in the graces we receive. In other words, God is the first cause, but they too are a cause, the instrumental cause. God uses them, as his instruments, to help us in a whole host of ways.
Because of the causlity that can be rightly attributed to them, we can pray to them, ask them directly for things, and attribute consolation, and protection, and guidance, and similar benefits to them. This does not detract from the sole mediatorship of Christ. This does not turn the saints into idols. This does not make them gods. This is certainly not communication with the dead (what an insult to the saints!!). The saints are alive in Christ, and it's absurd to think that you can ask a sinful member of the Body, someone still journeying to Christ, to pray for you but you can't ask the perfectly holy souls in heaven who have already received the Trinitarian God in all His fullness. Praying to them simply affirms the oneness and unity of the Body of Christ, and the work that Jesus Christ has done in their lives to maintain their connection with us beyond the grave. "O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?"
For all the ammo you could ever need, go here.
ps: Ahh, I almost forgot. Here are the results from last week:
You all know your Tolkien ;) I expected nothing less :D For more on the man, the myth, the legend, go here.