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Posts Tagged ‘Catholic prayer’

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With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel[…] (Eph 6:18-19).

Prayer is probably the best and most effective way to be united with God.  A good prayer-life is  like a doorway to receiving many graces and attaining true communion with God.  Through prayer one we can open one’s channels to receive whatever the Lord wishes to give us or reveal to us through His Holy Spirit. A prayerful person, through perseverance in prayer, may be enabled to discern God’s will from their own will and thus be more equipped to understand what God has deigned for them and respond to His plan. 

Catholics get a lot of questions (and criticism) about how we pray as well as to whom we pray. In my short experience with Catholic apologetics, I have found that most of the criticism is based on preconceived ideas, prejudice or mere ignorance. People often accuse Catholics of praying to Mary, instead of praying to Jesus, of praying to the Saints and not directly to God and so on… 

Obviously, these claims are all but accurate, because they mis-intreprete a core teaching of the Church that tell us that Christ is our only mediator to God, and that only through him we can get to God Father, and also because they fail to consider what Catholics call the communion of Saints. Simply it is not correct to state that Catholics pray to Saints in detriment of God.

Rather, we ask the Saints to pray on our behalftaking our petetions/prayers to the Lord. Prayers involving saints are petitionary or intercessory prayers, through which one asks for a favor (spiritual or more rarely, material) for oneself or for others. In the Scriptures we read  how Moses pleaded to God to spare his people, or Mary to Jesus at the wedding in Cana (Jn 2:1-11) or how Paul asked for prayers (Rm 15:30 or Eph 6:19).

11 But Moses sought the favor of the LORD his God. “O LORD,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. 13  (Ex 20:11-13)

Such intercessory prayers by no means substitute a sincere prayer  addressed directly to Lord Jesus, Who is God and who we worship.  Never will a Catholic pray a prayer of Adoration or Praise to a Saint. This would be most reprehensible. Such prayers are reserved to God and God only.  I add here that Catholics worship the Holy Trinity, so we may say prayers of praise to God the Father, God the Son and the Holy Spirit. 

He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:27)

However, to understand the idea of praying with the Saints one must consider the Catholic doctrine regarding the Communion with Saints. Failing to understand such concept will limit or prevent a correct understanding of the Catholic approach to intercessory prayers. 

The communion of saints 

In the  Apostle’s Creed, which  is a summary of the Core beliefs of our faith,  we profess that we believe in the Holy Catholic Church and the communion of saints. The Catechism states that : 

946 […] “What is the Church if not the assembly of all the saints?”477 The communion of saints is the Church. 

947 “Since all the faithful form one body, the good of each is communicated to the others…. We must therefore believe that there exists a communion of goods in the Church. But the most important member is Christ, since he is the head…. Therefore, the riches of Christ are communicated to all the members, through the sacraments.”478 “As this Church is governed by one and the same Spirit, all the goods she has received necessarily become a common fund.”479 

 The Communion of the Church of Heaven and Earth

When the Lord comes in glory, and all his angels with him, death will be no more and all things will be subject to him. But at the present time some of his disciples are pilgrims on earth. Others have died and are being purified, while still others are in glory, contemplating ‘in full light, God himself triune and one, exactly as he is. 

956 The intercession of the saints. “Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness…. They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus…. So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped.”493 

Saint Paul explained that the body is corruptible when it is buried, but it will be incorruptible when raised.  “It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory.  It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.  It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:43-44). 

The belief that Catholics have on being in communion with the spiritual beings in Heaven, who come to our aid can be verified inthe Scriptures, such as in Jude 1:9, or when Elijah and Moses prayed with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration.

And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one forElijah.” (Matthew 17: 3-4)

“But at that time shall Michael rise up, the great prince, who standeth for the children of thy people: and a time shall come, such as never was from the time that nations began, even until that time. And at that time shall thy people be saved, every one that shall be found written in the book.”
-Daniel 12:1

“Behold Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me.”
-Daniel 10:13 

 Here is another post on  Praying to Saints 

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7When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do. For they think that they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father know what you need before you ask him.’ (Mt 6:7)

The passage above is clear about how we should not pray, and at the same time that  it reminds us of our lowliness before God, even as we address Him to ask for His intervention, ‘for your Father know what you need before you ask Him’.

 7“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. (Mt. 7:7-8) (more…)

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