Hi everyone, I’m catholic and will love to really see your views to some of my thoughts and indoctrination. I grew up in a catholic home and we pray, (every christian prays), but most times quite differently, like reciting the rosary and praying that a saint would help pray for us here on earth. Is this wrong or right?
Welcome! I’m so very glad you’ve asked this question. Although I also was not raised in the Catholic religion, both my brother and my father became members of the church as adults. My brother is very evangelistic when it comes to the Roman Catholic church so I have been reading and listening to both protestant and catholic perspectives on its doctrines. I have not wanted to dismiss his invitations to look at the church without learning more about what the church believes.
On the subject of praying to the saints. I think defining the term is a good place to start. In the Catholic church, there is a very specific process a person has to go through to be considered a saint, usually after they’ve died. But there are many verses in the Bible that speaks to all believers in Jesus Christ being saints. Ephesians 1:1. Colossians 1:2. Philippians 1:1. Many living people are referred to as saints throughout the Psalms. Psalm 16:3. Psalm 31:23. Psalm 34:9.
Interestingly, I found at least three different words that the English translates as ‘saint.’ Hagiois. Hasidaw. Qedosaw. (Think these are the phonetic versions of the words!) Although they are different words, the definitions are very close…set apart by/for God, holy, separate, sacred. Given the multiple scriptural references to regular, living people as saints, I believe that all believers in Christ are saints. As saints, we have eternal life in Christ. Certainly the Bible calls us to pray for one another and to request prayer from other people. In this sense, every time we ask a fellow believer to pray for us, we are asking for a saint to pray for us.
My brother and other Catholic commentators have suggested that praying to people established by the Roman Catholic church as saints is the same as asking for a friend or a family member or church member to prayer on our behalf. What gives me pause, however, is that there is some suggestion that praying to a saint (as designated by the RC church) has some greater sway than just a regular believer. I don’t see any scripture in the Bible that supports the notion that there is a hierarchy in prayers being heard and answered depending on who offers them. To the contrary, as Jesus Christ is now the High Priest, we have direct access to Him through the Holy Spirit as we pray. That’s not say that we shouldn’t ask for others to pray for us. He’s enjoined us to do that so there is clearly value in many coming together as a community to pray.
As @DCGotiza says above, Matthew 6:7 people’s prayers are not more likely to be heard/answered with much repetition.
As I’m typing this, it occurs to me that praying to a designated saint or praying the rosary, which does typically involve some repetition, seems to imply the notion that one can jump the line. That there’s something one can do to get their prayer noticed more rapidly or before other prayers. I don’t mean to imply that someone is being selfish in that desire, but I think this idea doesn’t honor the majesty and infinite love and ability of our God. He is fully able to hear the smallest prayer we can barely breathe out, and He rejoices also to hear and to receive the intricate harmonies of that same prayer being lifted up to Him by many. While some things do need to be prayed for over a period of time, praying in one unique prayer setting, saying the same prayer over and over again, doesn’t make it any more powerful than the first whisper of it.
For me, the bottom line is that God hears our prayers. Will He refuse to hear a prayer because you’ve asked someone else to pray it for you? I don’t think so, but His heart is for each of us to come to Him directly and to build our own unique relationships with Him. One of the very best ways to build that relationship with Him is to speak with Him regularly. Isn’t that quite amazing? We have access to the ear of the Creator of everything! No mediator other than Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit required.
God bless you and grant you wisdom as you pray through and contemplate this issue.
I am so happy that you are open to know the truth whatever you find it to be. And, I’m glad you said Roman Catholic since Catholic is everyone in the universal church. Roman Catholics are what used to be called papists? Is that true? I think if you read the works of Martin Luther you will find that at the inception of the Roman church, Martin Luther pleaded with the popes not to accept deification at the risk of their souls or for others to think of any man as a god, living or dead, with the ability to forgive sin.
Also, while we have fleshly fathers, (Romans 9:8 “…children of the flesh…these are not the children of God”) Jesus says in Matthew 23:9 "…call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.) You have one spiritual, eternal Father who can forgive you and no one has the right to get between you and Him, except Jesus.
("…no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." John 14:6)
Jesus is the author and finisher of your faith (Hebrews 12:2) - everyone else including the disciples gone before us have Him as their deliverer…there is no scripture that provides for anyone else, living or dead, to take the place or authority of Jesus as your advocate/deliverer/savior or any other role in heaven to help you get to the Father. His children get gifts of the spirit: wisdom, prophecy, knowledge…( 1 Chronicles 12) and pastors, teachers, evangelists…(Ephesians 4:11) …not the ability to receive your prayers as God, or in the place of God…
It is not your fault that you were taught in the traditions of your family. However, it is your responsibility to seek the truth for which I applaud you. Jesus rebuked the Jews for “…teaching for doctrines the commandments of men…”, for “…laying aside the commandment of God”, for holding “…the tradition of men”, and for rejecting “…the commandments of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.” (Mark 7:7-9). Some of these traditions may include idolizing images, the dead “saints”, creatures, etc. that are part of a non-Christian past that was “Christianized”. (There are many studies available on that.) You must have been suspicious to ask. To me, this shows a love of the truth. This is imperative for He also told of those who “received not the love of the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:10.) The love of the truth will drive you to find it.
I’m so glad that you are searching. I’ve so often heard, when reminding folks to read the Scripture for themselves, that they don’t need to do that because they only need to do whatever the priests say. If that is you, please know that no one can come between you and your Father in heaven and you never need to be, nor can be, once removed from your Savior and gain access by anyone else…only by Jesus.
He is very personal, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46) Isn’t it wonderful that I can have 100% of His time and so can you? You can go out and offer your Savior to others and not have to worry that His time with you will be less. He offers the “…Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15). You don’t need, nor is there, any other name that you can use to get to the Father (or His attention) but by Jesus. I hope you will soon build that relationship with Him that He meant for every one of us to have with Him personally and not through anyone else. He is our portion forever (Psalm 73:26)
And, I hope this helps you know how much you are loved by Him and your Christian family. Don’t let anyone separate you from your Lord. Because of Christ’s work on the cross, you can come before your Father boldly and not bowed before another or by the graces or favor of any other person living or dead (which is forbidden). Jesus is our high priest. We can “…come boldly unto the throne of grace…” I wish you many happy hours of getting to know His Word for yourself and talking to Him in prayer.
Well said KC.
Prayer is precious. It connects us with the Creator. I am in the practice of praying directly to God. I choose to ask fellow believers to pray for me. I grew up in the Catholic Church, a German style of it. Raised apart from it mostly, but familiar with it. I always wondered why my family and the village would pray to their dead ancestors and call on saints to help them? I had only a simple understanding of prayer as a child. I was saved at age 27. Yet, something inside me always knew that God heard my prayer.
I go direct. Always in Jesus name only. That’s the way I read the Bible speaking about prayer. From ancient believers to how the Lord Himself instructed us to pray. So that’s what I do. I am sure that you can find many theological reasons to not pray to the dead believers and I understand that you may discover some scripture to justify it. All I know is what seems right to me, and so that I do.
Have an excellent day, I will pray for you to understand what your heart desires to know about this.
I was raised in the Roman Catholic faith and attended their schools until the age of 16. We used to pray the rosary occasionally which consists of 10 hail Mary’s to one Our father.
I never really understood how May could help me and at that time always prayed directly to God. I was also confused about purgatory and as my mum died when I was 6 I couldn’t bare the thought of her being there! I’ve since learned that purgatory is not in the bible but a concept believed only in the Roman Catholic Church.
My own personal experience of the Faith was a knowledge of God and Jesus but the weight of guilt and feelings of failure for never being right with God through works. I bounced in and out like a yo-yo.
My transition away from Roman Catholicism was very gradual as God meets you where you are. Once I started to read the bible and join a small study group I initially grew spiritually but came under enormous spiritual attack. Because my roots weren’t deep enough I completely turned away from any faith for 4 years. After having a breakdown Jesus met me through Grace and as I asked for forgiveness the healing process began. I was 50 when this happened and my quest to know Jesus more has been insatiable. Reading the whole bible and studying it has transformed my life. Trust what the Lord tells you in his word alone. God bless Xxx
Hi Ettah! A great question and without question, a common one. I would like to try to shed some light on this subject having been raised Roman Catholic (RC) until I was saved/born again at 25 years of age.
I could answer this question in a yes/no format but I’d like to give some background as to WHY Catholics pray to Mary and “saints.” And, of course, all of these concepts go even deeper, so this is a nutshell version.
RCs (the abbreviation I will use for Roman Catholics) believe that Mary is the Mother of God, being that Jesus is God and she is his earthly mother. It goes deeper, but that should suffice for now. She is deemed to be an advocate, helper, benefactress and mediatrix, meaning she has the ability and authority to intercede on our behalf, being “our Mother” according to Catholicism. The concept goes generally like this:
- Mary was born in a state of perfect grace thus has never been tainted with original sin and consequently sinless throughout her entire life.
- That doctrine comes from an idea that is celebrated by RCs annually on December 8…the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Because of the date’s proximity to Christmas, it is often mistaken as the immaculate conception of Jesus…being conceived without original sin. It is not, however…it is the belief that Mary, herself, was born without original sin and lived a perfect and sinless life.
- However, it is due to this doctrine that another doctrine is derived…the Feast of the Assumption, likewise, celebrated annually on August 15. It is believed that having escaped the stain of original sin, and never having sinned, she didn’t die…she was assumed body and soul into heaven.
Now according to biblical theology, if, in fact, Mary had indeed never sinned, she could not have died, for “the wages of sin is death…” (Rom 6:23) Except that the Scriptures clearly state that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” (Rom 3:23) except, of course for Jesus Christ (Heb 4:15). Mary herself, in her magnificat, declares God to be her Savior [Rescuer/Deliverer] (Luke 1:46). Once again, if the doctrine that Mary had never sinned were true, likewise she could never have died and would still be alive today. THAT would make her a valid intercessor…mediatrix. But again the Scripture declares that there is One mediator, the Man Christ Jesus (I Tim 2:5). The idea here is that Mary’s perfection and relationship to the Son, the individual prays to her, and she in turn, prays to the Son who will grant her request. The theology of the rosary is fairly extensive and too much for this space.
Regarding “saints,” the believe is held that the Church is 3 parts…those on earth, those being purified (purgatory) and those already in heaven. In other words, it’s continual, and saints who prayed on earth are still praying in heaven. A nice concept, but with no biblical foundation.
I believe someone in this thread mentioned that Jesus is the High Priest, and that is correct. Moreover, in Hebrews He is declared to be the One that “lives forever to make intercession for the saints (Heb 7:24-25).” So because Jesus is alive (He never sinned and death could not hold him), He can pray for us. The dead cannot pray. That is also why you and I can pray for each other while we are yet alive. It is appointed unto to a man once to die, then the judgment (Heb 9:27). That’s when the praying ceases. I don’t really see any heavenly engagement of anyone with the earth except for God himself, and angelic activity. If they are praying, there is no biblical evidence that anyone is responding to us/our prayers, other than the Godhead, the Divine Trinity.
It is believed in RC that the a person is declared a saint, “canonized,” officially, after he has died and based on works of merit, etc., while alive on earth. There is an entire process that takes place before someone is canonized. As someone else had previously alluded, the WORD of God declares every born again believer to be a saint AND a priest…thus we believe in what is known as the priesthood of the believer (I Pet 2:5, 9-10), wherein ALL believers may approach God directly through the shed blood, and eternal intercession of our Great High Priest Jesus. That is the assurance, boldness and security by which we may approach God ourselves, in fact are invited, and can together as saints alive on earth communally, approach God in prayer and intercession for others (Heb 4:14-16).
So to sum it up, I do believe the Scripture is clear and that Roman Catholicism is incorrect with regard to praying to dead saints and in reciting the rosary. It is in appropriate for us to do. I do believe that many RCs are hyper-sincere in their endeavors but sincerity is never the issue…Truth is the issue. I believe there are many Cornelius type folks whose devotion is sincere but not correct and in the mercy of God, God sends those individuals the truth of the gospel. Remember in Acts 17, in Athens, where Paul sees and acknowledges the sincere devotion of the people…seeing all of their idols. But he doesn’t let them stay there. In the Mars Hills discourse He admonishes them, in Christ, to leave those things behind and to repent of the practices (Acts 17:1, 22-31).
Ettah, I do pray that what I have written is clear and helpful, and if it provokes any further questions, I’d be happy to contribute more on the subject. If I have stated something unclearly, please feel free to ask for a clarification.
Ditto, Traceywales, me, too. I could have written this myself from my own experience.
Interesting comment, Ken
Missionaries in Thailand talk about that nation’s worship of ancestors. There is a festival (annual?) for ancestors during which the Canadian missionaries say figures looking like demons are centrally involved. There’s an article online (Veneration of the dead) which outlines some of this kind of belief. Seems so strange in a country with people who appear to be so happy. I am praying for the new King of Thailand to be transformed by Jesus (also North Korean leader), which is a God sized prayer and I leave him to it.
I’ve been listening to a short audiobook of “Brother Lawrence” who “practised the presence of God” and taught about it around 400 years ago. He was in an RC monastery.
Everywhere, all the time, we are in God’s presence, whose Holy Spirit lives in each believer. And because of that, we have someone to talk to all the time. The big thing is to listen, to stop talking, stop doing, and listen to what God says through his word and through the still small voice that says (not yells) “this is the way – walk in it”.
Enjoy the journey!
PS It is said the expression “God is good - all the time – and all the time - God is good” originated in Nigeria. It was begun as four phrases spoken by
Pastor: God is good
Congregation: All the Time
Pastor: And All the Time
Congregation: God is good
This was then followed by the phrase:
All: I am a witness.
Think about the power behind that additional last phrase.
Many Catholics believe that how they worship God is pleasing to God. However much of what they do and call worship, is fear driven. For example, you may see a Catholic when passing by a Catholic church make the sign of the cross. When asked why they do that, they usually respond, “because it is tradition”. This is often followed with, “and I don’t want to break the tradition of the church.”. That is a fear driven response.
Fear plays a large role in the Catholic Church. I was raised Catholic and was told continually that if I did or didn’t do this or that then I would be in purgatory or hell. This is not Biblical nor is is how Jesus would have responded.
The word suppression also comes to mind concerning Catholicism. For example, if you compare s Catholic Bible with an NKJV Bible you will see some major differences. A Catholic will ask you why certain portions of the Catholic Bible are not in your Bible and then usually add that that information that is in the Catholic Bible and NOT in your Bible has been suppressed.
When talking with Catholics, guiding them to Jesus by motivation of scripture, in other words asking them to read a non Catholic Bible and then asking thoughtful questions reveals the truth of God in time. It also raises a great many questions in them so be prepared when they bombard you with a great many questions. Always be prepared for the reason and hope that you have…
This is what was done with me and how I came to know the Lord and become a member of the Church and a priest in the order of Melchizedek.