Why do Catholics… pray to the Saints?
The communion of saints is the relationship between people living on Earth and the saints in heaven. Unfortunately, it is sometimes misunderstood. Many non-Catholics see the numerous statues, windows, and paintings that depict saints in Catholic churches, and they ask… why do Catholics pray to the saints?
The short answer is that Catholics do not pray to the saints, we pray with the saints. Of course, the saints are not God and they do not have the ultimate power to answer prayer the way that God does. Catholics are aware that the saints do not forgive sins or bring us the sacraments.
In Revelations 5:8 we read: "And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints."
In this Bible verse we see the 24 elders, 12 tribes of Israel and 12 Apostles offering our prayers up to God in the form of Incense, which is very pleasing to God.
In Revelations 8:2-4 we read: "And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand."
Nevertheless, the Church recognizes that the saints are part of the cloud of witnesses whom God has “put in charge of many things” (Matthew 25:21). The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that the saints share in the “living tradition of prayer by the example of their lives, the transmission of their writings, and their prayer today” (CCC 2683). It further clarifies that their intercession on our behalf is “their most exalted service to God’s plan. We can and should ask them to intercede for us and for the whole world” (CCC 2683).
We see from these passages that the saints are intended as our prayer partners and role models. They are mentors who show us an example of holy lives. As souls in heaven, they share in God’s joy and they work to bring others into the kingdom. Their holy lives do not elevate them to a status equal to God. But the fact that they are already in heaven should serve as an inspiration and an example to us.
Therefore, Catholics do not pray to the saints. We may imitate their particular prayers or spirituality, or repeat a style of prayer they provided in their writings. We pray with them and ask them to intercede for us. The saints are a gift that God has given to believers on earth. We honor them with the statues and religious artifacts and by celebrating their feast days, just as we honor our beloved ancestors with photos on the walls of our home or saying a prayer for their soul on their birthday.
When you view the saints as prayer partners, you realize that their intercession is a blessing from God.
Article written by Lizann Lightfoot for Christian Catholic Media.
Lizann Lightfoot is a Catholic military wife and mother who loves to share about her Catholic faith.