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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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How is Praying to a Saint NOT Like Praying to God?

bvm_047QUESTION:  Do Catholics pray to God, Jesus, Mary, Saints, and all of the above? How is praying to a saint different than praying to God? My Christianity claims that God will listen to all prayers. If Catholics believe that (do they?), why are they praying to saints?

Some of these concerns I have already briefly addressed. Over the last two thousand years, Catholic Christians have done much discernment regarding prayer and spiritual matters. Obvious structures in our prayers have been formulated. Note that at Mass, most orations are addressed to God as Father. Oftentimes prayers will end with a statement that it is offered “through” Christ our Lord and with some possible mention of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is again and again affirmed as the one Mediator to the Father. We also believe in the Trinity: that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is important because certain modern-day Arians and Messianic Jews deny the divinity of Christ— a fact that would immediately alter prayer. God does listen to all prayers and as I have said before, the invocation of a saint to pray with us to God does not negate this reality. All prayer is properly addressed to God. If a prayer is answered, it is because of the intervention of God. Mary and the Saints have no power of their own– they are creatures; however, God has chosen to work closely with and in us. Your question here would better be rendered: what are the four purposes of prayer?

Adoration – Proper worship of God due to Him as our Creator.

Thanksgiving – Gratefulness to God for His gifts to us.

Reparation – To obtain pardon for sins and to do penance.

Petition – We ask for spiritual and physical goods.

I hope this helps to alleviate the confusion that many have about the oldest form of Christianity and our prayer practices. And, again, I do hope those who come here are sincere. Sometimes anti-Catholic fundamentalists ask questions, not because they honestly want to understand the faith, but because they hope to trip up ignorant Catholics as part of a proselytization effort.  I would urge a certain civility in debates and discussions.

One Response

  1. Thank you, Father. It helps in explaining this to some of my friends who are not knowledgeable in Catholic history and practices.

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