As we celebrate All Saints’ Day today, we Catholics ask the saints to intercede for us and give them thanks. The Church venerates the saints, as they dedicated their works, and often times their lives, to Almighty God. Often, we ask them to intercede for us and to aid us in our prayers, as we would ask those of this world to pray for and with us. However, some questions do arise among those that have little background knowledge in why we venerate the saints, often coming from Protestants. With All Saint’s Day close by, it is fully necessary to talk about this subject, as well as give an insight into what we as Catholics teach in regards to the veneration and intercession of saints.
Why do Catholics ask saints to intercede for them?
- In ancient Judaism, in which it is understood that God is the Lord God of the Sabaoth (i.e. Hosts; Isaiah 6:3–5, RSV). God is not a personal deity that is to only be consulted behind closed doors, but is Our Father and knows every single one of us intimately, whether or not we know him in even but a fraction of that understanding. In the Book of Psalms, David writes of “hosts” and “angels”, which demonstrates that this is not new occurrence that only appears in in Christianity, but rather has been a part of ancient Judaism, in which this understanding was transferred to the Early Christians.
- Although 1 Timothy 2:5 states that, “For there is one God , and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”, the four lines preceding this selection also state the following: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly, and respectful in every way. This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1–4, RSV). St. Paul teaches us to humbly beg, pray, and be gracious for all people. As you would ask someone you know to pray with or for you, we may ask those in Heaven to pray with and for us.
- In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, (CCC, 2634), intercession is defined as, “a prayer of petition which leads us to pray as Jesus did”. It continues with, “The Holy Spirit “himself intercedes for us… and intercedes for the saints according to the will of God”. This draws from Romans 8:26–27, in which St. Paul teaches that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us to the saints, so that they too may intercede for us in prayer. When we ask those in Heaven to pray for us, the Saints do not hear them first and then relay our intentions to God. Rather, God is aware of them first and allows the intentions to reach the hosts, who then in turn pray with us, or for us.
We are never truly alone, as God and all His angels and saints are with us always, and God’s hosts, like our friends and family, can pray for our intentions. For the praise and glory of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we are joined in prayer no matter where we may be, be it our bedside, a secluded wood, or the busy streets of our cities. These men and women who live in Christ, are a part of our spiritual family, with God being the head. Like any family, to develop and keep a healthy relationship, it is necessary to keep in touch with one another and pray for one another.