Forum Posts on Saints (1)

Saints

I wasn't sure where to put this, so general sounded safe enough.

My question is about praying to Saints. Now I can understand about intercessory prayers, however... What is it about Saints having specific needs answered? We have a Saint for every need?

Now I've never run across this in church, yet I've heard this from other Catholics. For instance I had misplaced something and a friend told me, "Oh you need to pray to Saint 'such & such' He's the finder of lost things?" Of course I said huh? I dismissed it because to me it sounded superstitious. Now when I was going to CEF I remember a thread about a certain statue that if you buried it in your yard, something good would happen. What about the Patron Saint of travel? It sounds so superstitious, and Iíve never really ever heard the Church on this.

This kind of confuses me. A good Protestant friend told me he watched an ex-nun on Trinity broadcasting years ago who had a ton of statues and an alter and would write letters to these Saints and place them on the alter. Iím sorry but this sounds so terrible to me. Also by seeing this story it only reinforced the misconceptions he has had about Catholics. He and his family have thought that we worship statues and pray to them. That we worship Mary. Iíve come across so many Protestants who think this also. I've come across some Catholic's that I thought were.

Also how do we come up with a Saint being patron over something? What does the Church state about this? If you believe in all of this, have you ever questioned it? If so, what answers did you come up with? Where did you search?


Hi Duy mara,

I think the easiest way to understand this is to give some examples. Patron saints are saints that have a special connection to certain things, either by miracles preformed in this life, the way they died (or martyred), etc. For example, Imelda Lambertini is the Patroness of first communicants. She desperately wanted to receive communion, but was not allowed to because of her age. There was a miracle in which her fervant prayer was answered and the host actually flew from the tabernacle and remained suspended over her until a priest was summoned. When she received the host, her first communion, she literally died from the joy of having Jesus so close to her heart. She had been praying for a friend daily who was blind. Upon her death, he was able to see. Because of her death and the miracle surrounding it, she was named the Patronness of First Communicants. The Patron saint of dental work, teeth, etc.(the name escapes me right now) was martyred by having teeth pulled out one by one.

There are probably other ways as well. But these are the ways that I am familiar with.

I have never questioned this, but there was a time when I just didn't give it a whole lot of attention. In the last yr. I have really grown in my appreciation of the saints and this beautiful gift we have been given as part of our faith.

As humans, we seek concrete examples, fathomable situations to help our limited understanding of the Divine somehow have an acceptable explanation. We want guidance and answers. Even though Protestants say that they don't do this, they do. Protestant women are constantly seeking the help of Titus 2 women to help them cope through difficult situations on their Christian walk. We have even more beautiful guidance....the lives of the saints. Through their lives we can see how Christ worked in their lives, how they grew and followed the way of the cross. They are very real examples of how Christ can work within us, how to seek God's glory. Reading about their lives is very inspirational and like Mary, they lead us to Christ, rather than detract from the love that is His alone.


Hi everbody:

I have been a roving Lutheran and visited a forum called Perilous Times where I found the following from a post there that really got me going. May I copy it here without anyone thinking I am bashing Catholics? As I Protestant I thought maybe you guys could better advise me on the fallacies that are brought up:

<<
I'm glad you say so, but that doesn't convince me of too much. The term "catholic" means "of the Christian church as a whole, specifically of the ancient undivided Christian church" another definition is "broad in sympathies, taste and understanding, liberal" (both from Webser's). The Roman Catholic Church, which is what is commonaly called just the Catholic church in the US has moved quite a bit away from the early church, which is why so many broke away.
I stand by my original statement that they do not follow the Bible. The Bible tells us to call no one Father except God, what is the title give to a priest? The Bible says we do not have to abstain from foods, what about no meat on Fridays? The Bible says no vain repetions of prayer, what is "Hail Mary" and "Our Fathers" ? The Bible says we do not need an intersessor, we have Christ, yet the Catholics insisit on confession to a priest. Once we ask forgiveness, we (as believers) are forgiven, no penance required. Could you please show me in the Bible where it speaks of Praying a soul into heaven, last rites, pergatory, lent, annulment of marriage, man made saints, lighting candles and prayer to saints, Mary remaining a virgin.... I'll be impressed if you can find these things.
All of this saud, please let me tell you I am against the Roman Catholic Church as an institution. I know a few people who despite the teachings of the Church are wonderful Christians. I think most Catholics go by habit and have not really examined the Churh in light of the scriptures.
Blessings, Debi >>

Now Debi does not know I posted her message here and perhaps it is unethical to do so without her permission, but it is frustrating to me to see such ignorance go unchallenged.

Somebody care to help? (Roni, Matt, Martin)

Pax, Frank

Reply


I'll first address the charge of "vain repetition". From an article I found awhile back and saved:

Let's look at the context of the "vain repetitions" verse. Matthew 6:5-6 deal with the prayer practices of the Jews themselves; Jesus derides these as hypocritical. He doesn't condemn repetitive Jewish prayers, of which there were a countless number. For example, the book of Psalms is a collection of hymns and prayers repeatedly used in Jewish celebrations in which Jesus himself participated. The Passover, celebrated by Jesus before his Crucifixion, had fixed prayers that were repeated annually. Following the Last Supper, Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed the same prayer three times in a row (Matt. 26:39-44)-he engaged in repetitive prayer.

In the next pair of verses Jesus warns against the prayer practices of the pagans, who held a magical view of prayer and whose repetitious prayers he does condemn. Verse 7 reads, in the King James Version, "[D]o not use vain repetitions [] as the heathen do." This is a misleading rendering. The Greek word is better translated as "babbling," and it is so translated in the New International Version. (The Revised Standard Version has "empty phrases.")3 Jesus isn't condemning mere repetition-something he himself engaged in, as did other good Jews-but the babbling of the pagans.

What sort of babbling did the pagans practice? Look at 1 Kings 18:2629, where the pagan prophets on Mount Carmel tried to invoke Baal all day long, repeatedly calling on his name and performing ritual dances: "They called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, 'Oh Baal, answer us!' But there was no voice, no one answered. And they leaped about the altar which they had made.... And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out of them. And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the evening oblation, but there was no voice, no one answered, no one heeded."

Once the pagan prophets had given up, Elijah came forward and called on the God of Israel, and immediately his prayer was answered.

The prayers of the pagan prophets were "vain" because, after spending the entire day frantically calling upon him, Baal never responded. He wasn't a real god, unlike the God of Israel, who always answers sincere prayer. Jesus' point in Matthew 6:7 is that we don't need to spend all day leaping over altars, cutting ourselves, and raving to get our heavenly Father's ear. He hears our prayers no matter what type of prayer is offered: lengthy or short, composed or extemporaneous, group or individual, repetitious or unique.

Thus Jesus says in the next verse: "Therefore do not be like them the pagans. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask him" (Matt. 6:8). This doesn't mean that, since God already knows our needs, we don't have to pray at all. As Jesus taught in the parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8), we are to be tenacious in prayer, freely and repeatedly (repetitiously) bringing our petition before the seat of grace.

Paul says we are to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17), not "pray reservedly lest we repeat ourselves" (as is inevitable in ceaseless prayer). One of the benefits of the rosary is that it leads naturally to the ceaseless prayer and meditation which Scripture enjoins upon us.

If there should be any lingering doubt that God doesn't look down on repetition in prayer, note that in Revelation 4:8-11 we find the heavenly host engaging in repetitive prayer ("Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty"), said "day and night" before the throne of the Almighty, followed by repetitious antiphons from the elders.


Next ... the "call no man father" charge. This is from the CS articles page:

Editor's Note: Instead of copying it, I just linked to it...

http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Woods/2495/father.html

Since there is sucha barrage of objection, rather than address each one individually, I'll leave a link or a quick comment.

The Bible says we do not need an intersessor, we have Christ, yet the Catholics insisit on confession to a priest.

A quick verse ... John 20:21-23.

A link with more detail: I Confess - the biblical teaching on confession.

Once we ask forgiveness, we (as believers) are forgiven, no penance required.

Doing Penance

Could you please show me in the Bible where it speaks of Praying a soul into heaven,

Praying to the Saints

last rites,

We call it the Sacrament of the Annointing of the Sick ...... with Confession thrown in.

Annointing of the Sick

pergatory,

Purgatory

lent,

All about Lent

annulment of marriage,

Annulments FAQ

man made saints,

Man-made saints? Usually I see the argument that all believers are saints!

lighting candles and prayer to saints,

See "Praying to the Saints" link above.

Mary remaining a virgin.... I'll be impressed if you can find these things.

He's an only child


I'm gonna start up this discussion on another thread, since it might not fit here, precisely....

God bless, Matt


Hi Martin:

Upon reflection I am not sure it is good use of time in 'discussing' these things with someone whose mind appears to be made up. In other words maybe we all have a better use for our time. May I take your post, copy it as source material for the poster and just leave it at that?

I guess I was just felled by the utter absurdity of her post which clearly shows she knows nothing of Catholic teaching much less biblican teaching about how we should treat each other.

I apologize for using so much of your time. Matt indicated to me that he has also been there done that.

Pax,

Frank


No problem. I agree with your assessment of the situation. Early on in my apologetics endevours, I tried to talk and discuss and meet every objection that people threw out.
I soon discovered, that regardless how well my response met each objection ... from scripture, early church fathers, or even logic .... it wasn't even considered and quickly regarded.

Feel free to cut and paste anything you want!


Martin,
I read the link you posted about the Praying to Saints. Thank you for posting it. I apreciate it very much. However I still feel some unanswered questions.


What other questions do you have? We can try to tackle those.

I also have another suggestion. Try reading "The Spirit of Catholicism" .... it does a wonderful job explaining the nature of the Church. There's an online copy of this book at:

The Spirit of Catholicism


Hi Martin:

Thanks for the feedback but I have to give credit to Matt for the insight. I found the piece on "Father" compelling although I never had heard of this objection before, so what do I know *smile*.

Answer me one thing. What is it in your opinion that people such as you and me can disagree over certain theological issues with relatively little bloodshed (so far at least) and others seem to revel in disputing the gnats? Well, Martin (a very Protestant name BTW) I am being a little tongue in cheek. I just felt badly that you put time into your answer to me when in the meantime I had decided NOT to dispute.

Pax,

Frank


The issue with vain repetition of pray is clearly refuted by Our Lord Himself in a place called Gethsemane.

Three times He asks the Father regarding the Cup.

Surely no one could suggest that Our Lord prayed vainly.

Likewise, Saint Paul asked God three time for the thorn is his side to depart from him.

Vain repetition - I think not

Sometimes the answer to our prayers is no.


Answer me one thing. What is it in your opinion that people such as you and me can disagree over certain theological issues with relatively little bloodshed (so far at least) and others seem to revel in disputing the gnats?

While I do think some of the differences do matter, we should try to discuss matters in a way that is condusive to dialog. Calling people heretics and damned to hell or other similar insinuations is hardly the way to have a constructive dialog with someone ..... at least IMHO. I think we should try to have people see the Christ that is in us.

Well, Martin (a very Protestant name BTW) I am being a little tongue in cheek.

Hehe .... well, let's just say there was a St. Martin long before a certain man with the last name of Luther was around. :^)

I just felt badly that you put time into your answer to me when in the meantime I had decided NOT to dispute.

No problem. It didn't take too much time. Posting a bunch of links and/or copying and pasting some text isn't too time consuming. Those were common objections, so I knew were the appropriate tracts were.


Martin, What does the church teach? Where can I read this in the CCC?

Do you remember the thread at CEF about this person buying a statue then burring it in their yard and by doing such, whatever they wanted (purpose of the Saint) it occurred?

What about "an ex-nun on Trinity broadcasting years ago who had a ton of statues and an alter and would write letters to these Saints and place them on the alter." Does the Church teach this?

Thanks


What does the church teach? Where can I read this in the CCC?

About statues?

I did a quick search and found this:

2502. "Sacred ART is true and beautiful when its form corresponds to its particular vocation: evoking and glorifying, in faith and adoration, the transcendent mystery of God - the surpassing invisible beauty of truth and love visible in Christ, who 'reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature,' in whom 'the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.'[Heb 1:3 ; Col 2:9 .] This spiritual beauty of God is reflected in the most holy Virgin Mother of God, the angels, and SAINTS. Genuine sacred ART draws man to adoration, to prayer, and to the love of God, Creator and Savior, the Holy One and Sanctifier."

Do you remember the thread at CEF about this person buying a statue then burring it in their yard and by doing such, whatever they wanted (purpose of the Saint) it occurred?

Yes, I remember this thread. I ended up posting some replies that the experts at EWTN gave on this question. Here is one of their responses:

Question from Jim West on 12-08-1998:

I've heard of the practice that people who want to sell their home will bury a St. Joseph statue to enlist this saint's assistance. Where did this practice originate? Does the Church teach this to be right or wrong?

Answer by Colin B. Donovan, STL on 12-08-1998:

The Church doesn't teach anything either way. As to how the practice developed I don't know. The countless stories I have personally heard suggest that it works. Theologically I would have to categorize it as an act of confidence in St. Joseph (and then not think too deeply about it!). :-)

And from a site that sell the little statues St. Joseph Home Seller :

Even well-meaning people sometimes erroneously perceive the practice of burying a statue of St. Joseph...as superstitious, hocus pocus or magic.

But...the truth of the matter is the burial is no more than... an outward symbol of faith! What means everything... is that the seller... Inwardly, ASKS St. Joseph for his help! BELIEVES in him! THANKS him!

What about "an ex-nun on Trinity broadcasting years ago who had a ton of statues and an alter and would write letters to these Saints and place them on the alter." Does the Church teach this?

Well ... first off, statues and letters are never put on the altar. That is reserved for specific things.

But I do think it is a common practice for some people to write their requests for intercession and place them in a basket before a statue. Just like lighting a candle in front of a statue of Mary or St. Joseph. While we don't think the statues can read or do anything, the act is an outward symbol of faith. The saints can help us with their intercessory prayers ... just as a friend can. But with that said, it can lead to some superstition and abuse without proper understanding.


There is a St. Joseph/ House buying thread on Catholicsource, Duy. It begins with message #1948.

Personally I would not promote some of these devotions. I shere your concerns onb these things. Burrying statues upside down really smaks of (looks like)supestition to me.

polycarp

Thanks Martin you always come through.. Should we call you EncyclopediaMartin of Catholic Internet Resources?


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