Friday, July 29, 2011

Facebook Apologetics: Veneration vs. Worship, Pt. 4

Right after "Alexa" posted (see Part 3), "Terry" chimed in with questions related to the action of bowing down to a created thing that I addressed in Part 2. Here is my response to him. See also Part 1.

  • I think the point of bowing down needs to be discussed more as well. You gave only examples of the action being done which doesnt mean it was accepted or condoned. I can give examples of them having more than one wife in the bible because the bible records it. We have other examples of people bowing down and yet they are rebuked. Why is it they are rebuked when they are just trying to honor or bring reverance? Also I think the more revelant issue w catholicism is the doctrine of saved by faith and works. Can u expound nick on this...is it true?

Terry, the difference is, these acts of bowing towards a creature or created thing are presented in the Bible as very natural actions and there is no hint of condemnation. Yet, if we take Joseph and Kenneth at their word, then every single one of the people mentioned in those passages should be charged with idolatry for the simple fact that they are bowing towards someone or something. The point was to show the extremity and absurdity of their position.

The INTENT for the posture makes all the difference. When the act of bowing was condemned, it was because the intent of the person was wrong, not because the simple act of bowing should be everywhere and always condemned as gross idolatry.

On a separate but related note, we need to be precise about the posture we are talking about here. If you are talking about a bend at the waist, Catholics don't do that in front of an image of a saint. If you are talking about the more extreme act of "bowing down with your face to the ground," where one is sitting on his heals with his head touching the floor, we don't do that either. All I've ever known or seen is a simple, kneeling posture, perhaps with hands folded, which is the basic posture of prayer.

Yet, I think the passages I have cited still apply. Assuming a posture of prayer before a created thing -- whether that posture be kneeling, or bowing or prostrating or whatever -- need not necessarily be equated with idol worship. The key is the intent, and I already explained in my response to Alexa what the Catholic intention is.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Facebook Apologetics: Veneration vs. Worship, Pt. 3

Next, we hear from "Alexa." She has a very simple and honest question that I was happy to answer. I enjoy answering questions from people who truly want to learn a lot more than responding to the shoddy arguments of people who have already made up their mind about me. Also see Part 1 and Part 2.

At any rate, here is her question:

  • How else do you give honor to the saints cus I've heard from a catholic friend of mine about things like praying to Mary which I dont get.

Alexa, it is true that praying to the saints is another aspect of what we're discussing here. When we pray to the saints, it's a different kind of prayer and it's for a different purpose. When we pray to our Lord, it's an act of profound humility, that of a creature before his Creator, an attempt at communion with He who is the source and foundation of all things, an act that springs from a deep love and desire and dependence.

When we pray to the saints, it is by way of request or appeal. We know, as James tells us in his letter, that "the prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects" (5:16). We respect the fact that the saints have come from every single walk of life, yet they now live with Christ in paradise. So, we ask them for their prayers, just as we ask one another for prayers, or I would ask you for your prayers.

The point of all this is to show you that the intention of the prayer is different. It is NOT an act of worship. It is informed instead by the same principle that compels you to ask one of your brothers or sisters in Christ to pray for you.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Facebook Apologetics: Veneration vs. Worship, Pt. 2

Here is where "Joseph" makes his entrance. I'm glad he did, because it gave me the opportunity to address some other important points in this debate: bowing down to a created thing, and imitating the lives of the saints. See also Part 1.

  • Sounds like a Jehovahs witness changing the meanings of words to suit their theology. That which you bow down before is that which you worship.

You need "veneration" and "worship" to mean the exact same thing in order to fit YOUR theology ;) The fact is, they don't. No one uses these words interchangeably. If you do, you are simply ignorant.

[note from the author: a slight correction should probably be made here. Sometimes the Catechism uses the word "worship" in a more general sense to include all acts of religiosity. Then it can be used to describe the honor we give to the saints. But, when it's necessary to be more precise with one's language, "worship" refers to our adoration of God, and "veneration" to our respect for the saints].

Furthermore, your statement, "that which you bow down before is that which you worship" betrays an ignorance of Scripture. Lot "bowed himself with his face to the earth" before the angels that visited him in Sodom (Gen 19:1). Joseph's brothers "bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground" when they came to him for food (Gen 42:6). Saul "bowed with his face to the ground, and did obeisance" before Samuel (1 Sam 28:14). Bathsheba "bowed and did obeisance" to King David (1 Kings 1:16), as did Nathan (vs. 23), Ornan (1 Chron 21:21), and even the entire assembly (1 Chron 29:20). David himself bowed down before the temple of the Lord (Psa 138:2). The sons of the prophets at Jericho "bowed to the ground" before Elisha (2 Kings 2:15). King Nebuchadnezzar "fell upon his face, and did homage" to Daniel, and even commanded that an offering and incense be offered up to him! (Dan 2:46). Even Jesus Christ himself will make those of the synagogue of Satan to bow down before the church in Philadelphia (Rev 3:9).

Should all of these people be charged with idolatry? Of course not. Neither then should the Catholic.

  • The saints already have their reward they are with the father and need nothing more. Isnt it interesting that when Saint John the divine, as the catholics call him, bowed down before the angel, the angel responded please dont worship me I am thy fellow servant if Messiah Y'shua - WORSHP GOD

No one said the saints "need" our veneration. We give it to them because we respect and admire the great lives that they led and we desire to live like them. "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," and we honor the saints primarily by striving to imitate their example.

Lest you say we should imitate no one but Christ, Paul in particular is emphatic in his desire that we be imitators of him and of other men of holiness:

"Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ" (1 Cor 11:1). "Brethren, join in imitating me, and mark those who so live as you have an example in us" (Phil 3:17). "And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit" (1 Thes 1:6). "For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you" (2 Thes 3:7). "So that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises" (Heb 6:12). "Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their life, and imitate their faith" (Heb 13:7).

- - - - - - - - - -

"Joseph" would go on to say:

  • How often must miriam have wept over the millions that exalted her to the godhead, I can see her weeping at her sons breasts and he says its okay mom hey are just geniles trying desparately to keep their pagan gods.

... but I simply ignored it because it's a red herring. Also, in case you're wondering why I didn't respond to the bit about John bowing down to the angel, I essentially address this in Parts 3 and 4 of this debate.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Facebook Apologetics: Veneration vs. Worship, Pt. 1

Next in my "Facebook Apologetics" series is a debate on how the Catholic veneration of the saints is distinct from his worship of the Lord. There are a handful of participants in this one, which made it much longer than my previous Facebook debates. For those who stick it out to the end, I think (or at least hope) you will find many arguments that you can put to good use in defense of the Church.

The debate begins with "Kenneth." Below are his words with my point-by-point rebuttal. His words will be indented.

How is "veneration" different from worship? The thesaurus and dictionary list it as a synonym. Define both terms.

From the Merriam Webster Dictionary
Venerate
1: to regard with reverential respect or with admiring deference
2: to honor (as an icon or a relic) with a ritual act of devotion
Synonyms: adore, DEIFY, glorify, revere, reverence, WORSHIP

Worship
1:chiefly British : a person of importance —used as a title for various officials (as magistrates and some mayors)
2: reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power; also : an act of expressing such reverence
3: a form of religious practice with its creed and ritual
4: extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem
Synonyms: adulation, deification, hero worship, idolatry, idolization, worshipping

So, you asked me to explain how the two are different. I see that your dictionary provides “worship” as a synonym for “veneration.” I grant that the two words are similar in meaning, but that doesn’t mean there is no distinction to be made. Looking at the other synonyms, surely you grant that “worshipping” is not the same as “hero worship” or “deification.” Each synonym is similar but also different, and it is in the difference that we determine which word to use.

You asked me what Catholics mean by these words and I’m telling you, Catholics don’t use these words in the same way. “Veneration” is the word used to refer to the honor we give to the saints. “Worship” is the word used to refer to the honor we give to the Lord. That’s really all there is to it. The honor we give to the saints is not the same as the honor we give to the Lord.

Venerate is not a biblical term. The way it would most likely be translated into Koine Greek is προσκυνεω, then to English as worship.

The Koine Greek word translated "Worship." It is a verb of movement of limbs or of the body

4352 προσκυνεω proskuneo pros-koo-neh’-o

from 4314 and a probable derivative of 2965 (meaning to kiss, like a dog licking his master’s hand); TDNT-6:758,948; v

AV-worship 60; 60

1) to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence
2) among the Orientals, esp. the Persians, to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence
3) in the NT by kneeling or prostration to do homage (to one) or make obeisance, whether in order to express respect or to make supplication
3a) used of homage shown to men and beings of superior rank
3a1) to the Jewish high priests
3a2) to God
3a3) to Christ
3a4) to heavenly beings
3a5) to demons

That honor would be given to the saints or to any human being is itself a very biblical principle. Paul says, “Pay all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due” (Rom 13:7). And again, “I am the more eager to send him [Epaphroditus], therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. So receive him in the Lord with all joy; and honor such men” (Phil 2:28-29). Peter is helpful here too: “Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor” (1 Pet 2:17). There are several examples in the OT as well, but two shall suffice. From Leviticus, “You shall rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the LORD” (19:32). From 2 Chronicles, “And Hezeki'ah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the ascent of the tombs of the sons of David; and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem did him honor at his death. And Manas'seh his son reigned in his stead” (32:33).

You may not find the actual word “veneration” in the bible, but the principle to which the word refers is indeed biblical, and that is the important thing. There are many words that Protestants use that aren’t in the bible (e.g., “Trinity,” “bible,” “incarnation,” etc.). Let’s make sure we do not descend into the quibbling over words that Paul so harshly rebuked (cf. 1 Tim 6:4; 2 Tim 2:14).

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Facebook Apologetics: Numbering the Ten Commandments, Pt. 2

My opponent, "Kenneth" began his response to Part 1 by providing the Protestant and Catholic lists of the Ten Commandments:

  • ROMAN CATHOLIC

    1. I, the Lord, am your God. You shall not have other gods besides me.

    2. You shall not take the name of the Lord God in vain

    3. Remember to keep holy the Lord's Day

    4. Honor your father and your mother

    5. You shall not kill

    6. You shall not commit adultery

    7. You shall not steal

    8. You shall not bear false witness

    9. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife

    10. You shall not covet your neighbor's goods


    PROTESTANT

    1. You shall have no other gods but me.

    2. You shall not make unto you any graven images

    3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain

    4. You shall remember the Sabbath and keep it holy

    5. Honor your mother and father

    6. You shall not murder

    7. You shall not commit adultery

    8. You shall not steal

    9. You shall not bear false witness

    10. You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor

This was very helpful, and I'm sorry now that I did not thank him for it. At any rate, after that he launched into his response to my arguments. Here are his words and my rebuttal:

  • Apparently this whole misunderstanding comes down to editing God for "wordiness" and the desire by the RC Church to correct for God's political incorrectness being representative of an earlier age.

    Since the Bible IS the gift of the Roman Catholic Church in the same way forest rangers determining that an object is a tree, gift it to the lumberjacks, the Bible is the Catholic Church's to edit. But lo and behold, it hasn't edited the Bible -- YET.

    Instead, they have edited its extrabiblical listing of the 10 commandments by deftly removing the second one altogether and splitting the tenth into two parts. The Roman Catholic Church worships (wait "venerates") statues and objects like relics, and the crown of thorns Jesus wore, clearly making them guilty of not only making such objects, but "venerating" them also! Would a reasonable person suppose that the Catholic Church did this relocation out of convenience to alleviate the consciences of them who have fallen in love with the pantheon of saints and Mary whose only desire is to have an image of them to which to pray?

    This is where my face gets really red. I made this same assumption. Instead we have been wrong, who thought this.

I'm sorry, but this conspiracy theory of yours is absurd. Why would the Catholic Church try to hide her idolatry by removing a commandment when all a Catholic has to do is open his Bible to see the injunction against creating idols right there in plain sight?

  • The second commandment was dropped because it was redundant, God in His majesty became a little two wordy. You know how He is always saying things twice, many times in different ways, but He is redundant. Since God already SAID there were to be no other Gods worshiped, wouldn't that INCLUDE these statues? So why have two commandments which say the same thing. What was God thinking?

No one is saying God himself is being redundant. The Commandments in the Bible aren't numbered. The summary and enumeration was created by man as a teaching tool, so that the faithful may more easily learn them. Just b/c our #1 says "You shall worship God and Him alone" that doesn't mean we stop there and move on. Any time the commandments are ever treated, whether it be in a catechism or any other method of instruction, the injunction against creating images or idol worship is ALWAYS included. Each Commandment is a jumping off point from which we explain in detail everything that falls under that commandment. If the Church didn't want anyone to know about that idol worship part, why do we go to such lengths to TEACH ABOUT IT? Look up the Catechism of the Catholic Church online and just read how much is covered under one Commandment (here is Commandment #1).

Furthermore, it's very hypocritical to accuse Catholics of editing and removing parts, when Protestants do the same thing. Look at the Protestant list that you provided and compare it to Exodus 20:2-17. Your #2 says, "You shall not make unto you any graven images" whereas Exo 20:4-6 goes on to say, "... or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments." Since you edited out the part about bown down to them, should we assume that Protestants are hiding that aspect of idol worship so that they can provide cover for those who wish to bow down to images? If we use your logic, we would have to come to that conclusion.

  • So, it was fortunate that God made a second mistake, in the tenth commandment! He had almost made it through without another mistake, but this one wasn't as innocuous as the earlier faux pas, simply repeating Himself. In this one He portrayed Himself as being chauvinistic! His commandment grouped things and women together as being covetable. They made haste to correct this one. They separated the one about coveting a woman from the one about coveting things. These became the ninth (ladies first) and tenth commandments. As Nick Hardesty so eloquently put it [I took liberty to edit for the protestant reader]:

    • Catholics separate these two commandments b/c we believe that [but not God,] coveting a person’s wife and coveting his goods are two entirely different sins. Coveting a man’s wife is lust and adultery. Coveting his goods is envy and greed. The implication with the Protestant [and God's] enumeration is that a man’s wife is just another piece of property! The Catholic enumeration, in my mind, makes much more sense. [than God's]

    Jeepers, I hope this clears things up!

Perhaps you can explain to me then how coveting a man's wife is the same thing as coveting his car or house. Either coveting a man's wife is adultery or it's not. If it is -- and Jesus says that it is -- then it is a very different sin that coveting his car. But, I await your wisdom on that point.

- - - - - - - - - -

After 5 days went by without a response, I reminded him of our debate. Here was his response:

  • I am perfectly willing to let your arguments stand where they are. Others can clearly judge whether your arguments are cogent. I see nothing in your response to be answered that isn't self-evident in its evasiveness and legerdemain. Oh, and when a Roman Catholic reads her Bible, I would like to be there to record the event. It would be a huge milestone in the ecumenical efforts of the RCC.

It's obvious that he either doesn't know how to respond to my arguments, or he's no longer interested in trying. I found the charge of "evasiveness and legerdemain" particularly ironic, considering that he was the one avoiding my arguments. But it's whatever. No one else in the group has bothered to respond either.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Facebook Apologetics: Numbering the Ten Commandments, Pt. 1

Here is the second debate in my "Facebook Apologetics" series. This one is strictly with "Kenneth." I think with this debate you begin to see just how silly some of these anti-Catholic arguments really are. This conspiracy theory about the numbering of the Ten Commandments is just ridiculous, as I hope I have adequately shown.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

- - - - - - - - - -

  • For what reason did the Roman Catholic Church remove the commandment about the creation of graven images and divide the 10th command to compensate?

Some Protestants like to think that there is some nefarious intent involved in numbering the Commandments the way we do, as if the Catholic Church were trying to hide her idolatry from the ignorant masses by absorbing “You shall not make for yourself an idol” within the commandment to worship God and Him alone. But this is merely one more conspiracy theory.

The Catholic Church does not believe in or practice idol worship. We have nothing to hide. Our teachings are plain and easy to find for anyone who is curious. In no way has the Church every endorsed such a thing. So, there’s nothing for us to hide. Had we such intent, it would surely be a clumsy way to go about it, considering that the Commandments of God are right there in the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy for anyone to read.

The actual reasoning for the difference in enumeration is quite simple: When God commands us to worship Him alone, that obviously means that we can’t make any idols. Thus, there’s no logical reason to separate the two Commandments.

What Protestants should answer for is the end of their list, where not coveting a person’s wife is lumped in with not coveting his goods. Catholics separate these two commandments because we believe that coveting a person’s wife and coveting his goods are two entirely different sins. Coveting a man’s wife is lust and adultery. Coveting his goods is envy and greed. The implication with the Protestant enumeration is that a man’s wife is just another piece of property! The Catholic enumeration, in my mind, makes much more sense.

From here you may proceed to Part Two.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Facebook Apologetics: Praying to the Saints, Pt. 3

Here is my last exchange with "Kenneth" on this topic. There have been no further responses by him or any of the other members of this Facebook group. Also see Part 1 and Part 2.

  • The Scriptures are my response. Let others judge the veracity of the arguments.

You didn't directly respond to any of my arguments. You just provided more verses that you think prove your position. Lest you be allowed any more wiggle room, I will ask you directly:

1. Are the angels and saints in heaven aware of our actions on earth? Yes or No. If not, please refute my interpretation of Heb 12:1; 1 Cor 4:9; Lk 15:7,10; Mt 18:10. Was Jesus "seen by angels" or was he not? (1 Tim 3:16).

2. Do angels and saints take our prayers to the Lord? Yes or No. If not, please refute my interpretation of Rev 5:8; 8:3-4.

3. Do angels and saints intercede for us? Yes or No. If not, please refute my interpretation of Job 33:23-25; Jer 15:1; Zech 1:12-13; Rev 6:9-11; Heb 1:14. How else do these "ministering spirits" serve us if not by praying for us?

  • Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are dead. They are living in the spiritual sense. Jesus also said that those who believe in Him shall never die, yet our cemeteries are filled with believers. When Jesus spoke of life or death, the wise understand that He speaks sometimes of the flesh, and other times of the spirit. When He invited us to eat of His flesh and drink of His blood, He explained to His confused disciples that He was speaking in the spiritual sense and of the Holy Spirit.

    Joh 11:26 "And whoever lives and believes in Me SHALL NEVER DIE. Do you believe this?"

    Joh 6:63 "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The WORDS that I speak to you are SPIRIT, and they are LIFE.

I realize that the time comes for every person when his body is no longer animated by his spirit. But, it's only his body that is no more. The spirit is the eternal aspect of man that persists even after it leaves the body. Some of these spirits go to heaven b/c they have been enlivened by the grace of Christ. There they live, and are truly alive, in Christ Jesus, forever. Scripture is clear on this point. Any one who dies in Christ will live forever.

These are the spirits who are aware of our actions, who watch over us, who intercede for us, who DO in fact praise the Lord, as Scripture clearly shows. "The dead" that we are told not to conjure are the spirits who are suffering the torments of "the Pit," (which is Sheol/Hades) or even worse, the demons of Satan. These spirits aren't "alive in Christ Jesus" like the saints in heaven are. Our prayers are to an entirely different class of spirit, which is why none of the passages you cited even remotely apply.

All we do is exactly what David did. Answer me this: Was David communicating with the dead when he cried out, "Bless the LORD, O YOU HIS ANGELS, you mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word!" (Psa 103:20). Was he practicing necromancy when he said, "Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his host!" (Psa 148:2). Anyone without an axe to grind will surely say no.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Friday, July 08, 2011

Facebook Apologetics: Praying to the Saints, Pt. 2

After I posted my reply to Terry, "Kenneth" chimed in. Here is his comment and my response:

  • ON INVOKING THE SAINTS' INTERCESSION TO SPEAK TO GOD ON ONE'S BEHALF...

    Ps 115:17 THE DEAD DO NOT PRAISE THE LORD, Nor any who go down into silence.

    Isa 8:19 And when they say to you, "Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter," should not a people seek their God? SHOULD THEY SEEK THE DEAD ON BEHALF OF THE LIVING?

    ON SPEAKING TO THOSE WHO HAVE PASSED ON...

    Deut 18:10-12 "There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or ONE WHO CALLS UP THE DEAD. FOR ALL WHO DO THESE THINGS ARE AN ABOMINATION TO THE LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you.

"Seeking the dead on behalf of the living" and "calling up the dead" is necromancy, and we engage in nothing of the sort when we pray to the saints.

First of all, the saints aren't dead. As disembodied spirits in heaven, they are in fact very much alive: "Have you not read what was said to you by God, 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not God of the dead, but of the living" (Mt 22:31-32). Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, they died a long time ago, yet Jesus refers to them as the living ones of whom He is God. By His grace, the saints have conquered death, and I dare say are now more alive than you and I are!

Secondly, necromancy is when you conjure up spirits in order to elicit hidden knowledge from them. Catholics don't do that when we pray to the saints. "Calling up the dead" is the farthest thing from our minds. At any rate, the Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks strongly against necromancy, and sorcery, and any other type of magic or divination. See para. 2115-2117.

Basically, your whole line of argumentation is simply tearing down a straw man.


  • ON PATRON SAINTS...

    Lev 20:27 ‘A man or a woman who is a medium, OR WHO HAS FAMILIAR SPIRITS, shall surely be put to death; they shall stone them with stones. Their blood shall be upon them.’"

You're making way too much out of the phrase "has a familiar spirit." That phrase is simply another way of referring to a necromancer. See the Hebrew word (transliteration: 'owb) and it's definition here: Bible Study Tools.

As I have already established, praying to the saints is the farthest thing from necromancy. And now that I have given you a point-by-point rebuttal, perhaps you will respond to the actual arguments I made in my previous comments in this thread.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Facebook Apologetics: Praying to the Saints, Pt. 1

Recently I joined a Facebook group called "Apologetics: Defending the Faith (and discussion)". The name of the group alone is a mouthful, which is fitting considering that once I began participating in the discussions, I soon wondered if perhaps I had bitten off more than I could chew. It only takes a single Catholic to join one of these groups for all the anti-Catholics to come out of the woodwork. But, instead of trying to respond to EVERYTHING, which is simply impossible, I decided to focus on a handful of topics and give those my best effort.

This is the first of the debates I have engaged in so far. I will be posting the remainder every couple of days or so, with the "Facebook Apologetics" main heading. There are several players involved in this series, and they are all very colorful characters, as you will see. Please leave comments and let me know what you think.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

- - - - - - - - - -

The questions that started this debate come from "Terry":
  • does scripture say they hear our prayers, can they hear ALL the prayers and at the same time? Does there intercession intercede that of those among the living (on earth) Will it hurt or hinder my prayer if i dont pray to them?

Well, they don’t have ears so that can’t exactly “hear,” but I do think they have an awareness of our actions and our prayers. St. Paul refers to the saints who came before us as a “great cloud of witnesses” that surrounds us as we run the race that is set before us (Heb 12:1). We, or at least the apostles of the Church, are “a spectacle” to them (1 Cor 4:9). Jesus, for His part, tells us that there is great joy among the angels when one sinner repents (cf. Lk 15:7,10) and warns his audience that no one should harm the little ones, for “their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven” (Mt 18:10). The idea seems to be that the angels, as witnesses to the actions of men, will report back to the Lord any wrong-doing that befalls his children.

I think the greatest examples though come from the Book of Revelation, where the angels are seen offering our prayers up to the Father, like incense (cf. Rev 5:8; 8:3-4). Psa 141:2 likens our prayer as “incense before thee,” which tells me that the prayers the angels are offering to the Lord are of the saints on earth, not those in heaven.

If that weren’t enough, there are also many examples in scripture of angels and saints interceding for us, which is basically what they do when they pray for us or bring our intentions to the Lord. Eli'hu the son of Bar'achel the Buzite speaks to Job of “an angel, a mediator, one of the thousand” who will intercede for man, saying to the Lord, “Deliver him from going down into the Pit, I have found a ransom; let his flesh become fresh with youth; let him return to the days of his youthful vigor” (Job 33:23-25). God told Jeremiah that Moses and Samuel came before Him on behalf of the people, but He would not turn His heart towards them (cf. Jer 15:1). Zechariah saw a vision of an angel who pleaded with the Lord to have mercy on Jerusalem and the cities of Judah. “And the LORD answered gracious and comforting words to the angel who talked with me” (Zech 1:12-13). John saw a vision of the saints pleading with the Lord that his vengeance may come upon those who have and will shed the blood of the martyrs (cf. Rev 6:9-11). At any rate, “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?” It makes perfect sense that they would serve this function.

As for your other questions:

Q: “can they hear ALL the prayers and at the same time?”
A: They can hear all the prayers that are directed to them.

Q: “Does there intercession intercede that of those among the living (on earth)”
A: Does their intercession intercede? I don’t understand your question. Maybe you meant to say, “Does their intercession supersede …” If so, I would say that all prayers that go to God, whether they be by the saints on earth or the saints in heaven, are equally important to him.

Q: “Will it hurt or hinder my prayer if i dont pray to them?”
A: Well, it is true that some people pray more powerfully than others do, in virtue of their greater discernment of God’s will and their greater unity with Himl. James says, “The prayers of the righteous are very powerful in their effects,” and there is no one more righteous than a saint in heaven. That being the case, I do think that neglecting the saints is a missed opportunity to have your petition brought before the Father in a more perfect manner. But, no one is required to pray to the saints, and your prayer life doesn’t depend on utilizing their intercession. So, you either pray to the saints or you don’t. If you do, you will benefit from it.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Immaculate Heart of Mary, Pray for Us!

It is undoubtedly fitting that after celebrating the Sacred Heart of Jesus we should, the very next day, celebrate the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Her heart is indeed most pure, and it burns for the conversion of souls to her Son.

For more on the Immaculate Heart of Mary, see the articles below.

O heart most pure of the Blessed Virgin Mary, obtain for me from Jesus a pure and humble heart!

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

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The Immaculate Heart of Mary

The "Mother of All Peoples" website has more articles on the Immaculate Heart of Mary than I could possibly list here without losing a week of my life, so I suggest browsing that website for even more information.

As for my own meager attempt, see Defending the Immaculate Heart.
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