The Intercession of the Saints

Asking the saints in Heaven for their intercession is a basic part of Christianity, and is deeply rooted in history. Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Armenian, and several other historic Christian groups have always prayed to the saints — except for Protestants. Within the last few hundred years, this practice has come under fire from many Christians, many of which Protestants. They did away with this practice, despite it being taught by the early Christian Fathers.

St. Clement of Alexandria

“In this way is he [the true Christian] always pure for prayer. He also prays in the society of angels, as being already of angelic rank, and he is never out of their holy keeping; and though he pray alone, he has the choir of the saints standing with him [in prayer]” (Miscellanies 7:12 [A.D. 208]).

Origen of Alexandria

“But not the high priest [Christ] alone prays for those who pray sincerely, but also the angels . . . as also the souls of the saints who have already fallen asleep” (Prayer 11 [A.D. 233]).

St. Cyprian of Carthage

“Let us remember one another in concord and unanimity. Let us on both sides [of death] always pray for one another. Let us relieve burdens and afflictions by mutual love, that if one of us, by the swiftness of divine condescension, shall go hence first, our love may continue in the presence of the Lord, and our prayers for our brethren and sisters not cease in the presence of the Father’s mercy” (Letters  56[60]:5 [253] AD.)

Anonymous

“Atticus, sleep in peace, secure in your safety, and pray anxiously for our sins.” (funerary inscription near St. Sabina’s in Rome) 300 AD

St. Augustine of Hippo

“A Christian people celebrates together in religious solemnity the memorials of the martyrs, both to encourage their being imitated and so that it can share in their merits and be aided by their prayers” (Against Faustus the Manichean [A.D. 400]).

St. Jerome

“You say in your book that while we live we are able to pray for each other, but afterwards when we have died, the prayer of no person for another can be heard…But if the apostles and martyrs while still in the body can pray for others, at a time when they ought still be solicitous about themselves, how much more will they do so after their crowns, victories, and triumphs?” (Against Vigilantius 6 [406 AD])


All historic Christians invoke the saints in Heaven. The relatively new five hundred year old Protestant movement does not. The intercession of the saints in Heaven seems to gradually disappear from Protestant theology shortly after the creation of the early denominations during the Protestant Revolt in the 1500s. Why do Protestants cringe at the thought of saintly intercession? The concept of the saints in Heaven interceding to God for the Christians on earth is completely biblically sound.

First, it should be made clear that prayer is not always worship. One problem for some Protestants is that when they hear the phrase “prayer to the saints” they incorrectly regard it as synonymous to “worshipping the saints”. This is one of the biggest misunderstandings of the subject.

The verb “to pray” means “to ask”. It originally held this meaning in old English, and was used in phrases such as “I pray thee, do tell…”. It is originally just another word phrase for “ask”. The usage began to change meaning during the Protestant Revolt. The head of the Church of England did not warm up to the practice of prayer to the saints, and the term became solely associated with prayer to God. As the English monarchy took over many churches and universities of England, this Protestant word usage became the norm among non-Catholics. Catholics however, did not take to the new meaning, and from then till now “prayer to the saints” has strictly meant asking for saintly intercession.

This explanation shows that not all prayer is worship, as it depends on the manner of such, and the definitional term used.

Secondly, the bible exhorts Christians to constantly pray for one another, and it does not restrict the Christians of Heaven to do so.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the charity of the Holy Ghost, that you help me in your prayers for me to God” (Romans 15:30)

By all prayer and supplication praying at all times in the spirit; and in the same watching with all instance and supplication for all the saints: And for me, that speech may be given me, that I may open my mouth with confidence, to make known the mystery of the gospel.” (Ephesians 6:18-19)

You helping withal in prayer for us: that for this gift obtained for us, by the means of many persons, thanks may be given by many in our behalf.” (2 Corinthians 1:11)

And perhaps the most explicit passage on intercession for one another:

“I desire therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men: For kings, and for all that are in high station: that we may lead a quiet and a peaceable life in all piety and chastity. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

Asking the saints in Heaven to pray and intercede for us to God is the same exact concept as asking other Christians on earth to pray for us.

The saints in Heaven are perfectly suited for interceding for us to God, as they are nearer to Him than we are, and have their attention focused on him. Furthermore, the saints in Heaven are free from earthly distractions, and better yet, are completely free from sin and perfectly sanctified, unlike the people of earth. James 5:16 states that the “prayer of a righteous man is powerful”. Think of how the saints of Heaven are truly righteous, and how this makes their prayer more efficacious than that of Christians on earth.

The Bible depicts the people of Heaven being aware of our prayers in Revelation 5:8.

“And when he had opened the book, the four living creatures, and the four and twenty ancients fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.”

This passage depicts the saints in Heaven offering our prayers to God. They are very much aware of our petitions and present them to God. Some may argue that the prayers in this passage are not explicitly directed solely to the saints, but to God. Even so, this passage strengthens the fact that the saints are aware of our prayers, even if they are not directed to them.

But, it is clear that the saints in Heaven are actively interceding for us, as John, in this passage tells us that the saints offered the vials of odours (incense) that are in fact, the prayers of the saints.

 I was once told by a non-Catholic challenger that God forbids any contact with the dead, and this means that we should not pray to the saints. He cited Deuteronomy 18:10-11 as proof of his allegation.

 “Neither let there be found among you any one that shall expiate his son or daughter, making them to pass through the fire: or that consulteth soothsayers, or observeth dreams and omens, neither let there be any wizard, nor charmer, nor any one that consulteth pythonic spirits, or fortune tellers, or that seeketh the truth from the dead.”

These verses do not condemn contact with the dead, but rather the conjuring of spirits. God is condemning necromancy, not contact with the Heavenly Court. A prime example of what God is condemning is found in 1 Samuel 28:7-25, where King Saul visits the Witch of Endor, imploring her to conjure the spirit of the deceased prophet Samuel.

Praying to the saints, asking them to pray for us to God has nothing to do with necromancy, the conjuring of spirits. Nowhere does God prohibit contact with his “dead” saints. The saints, when one thinks about it, aren’t exactly just “dead”. They are more alive than we are now. They are in the presence of God, a sanctified, glorious soul. Consider:

“And as concerning the dead that they rise again, have you not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spoke to him, saying: I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You therefore do greatly err.” (Mark 12:26-27)

All the people named in this passage were “dead”(Abraham, Isaac, Jacob), and yet God is their God; the God of the LIVING. The dead saints are all alive and well in Heaven. They are only physically dead.

 God explicitley allowed contact with the dead in Scripture. Consider the scene of the Transfiguration, in Matthew 17:1-5:

“And after six days Jesus taketh unto him Peter and James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart: And he was transfigured before them. And his face did shine as the sun: and his garments became white as snow. And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with him. And Peter answering, said to Jesus: Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.”

If God commands us not to have any contact with the dead, then he would not have allowed several of the Apostles to witness apparitions of dead saints.

The saints themselves are all quite alive and well, and aware of the happenings on earth (to the extent that God allows).

“And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying: How long, O Lord (holy and true) dost thou not judge and revenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given to every one of them one; and it was said to them, that they should rest for a little time, till their fellow servants, and their brethren, who are to be slain, even as they, should be filled up.” (Revelation 6:9-11)

The saints mentioned in Revelation are fully aware of the happenings on earth, concerning those that have wronged them and the Lord. This passage exhibits the fact that the saints are aware of us on earth, and previous passages (Revelation 5:8) have shown that also offer our prayers to God, and that contact with them is most certainly not prohibited (Matthew 17:1-5).

I’m not entirely certain why asking the saints intercession triggers Protestants the way it does. The saints in Heaven are no less part of the Mystical Body of Christ than Christians like you and me. St. Patrick or St. Peter or St Francis are no less members of the Body of Christ than when they were physically on earth.

As Christians, we are all connected spiritually due to our Christianity; being members of the Body of Christ. Our connection with one another does not end at physical death. Our connection is spiritual, and is therefore not dependent on a physical life or body.

For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.”(1 Corinthians 12:12)

“Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.” (Ephesians 4:25)

“I am the vine: you the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

All Christians are part of the Body of Christ, and are parts of one another. Christ is the vine, we are the branches connected to Him. Through our connection with Christ, we are connected to one another. This spiritual connection enables us to continually ask our brothers and sisters for their prayers…not even death can separate us from each other.

God bless,

Patrick E. Devens

 

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47 thoughts on “The Intercession of the Saints

  1. Besides being Omnipresent Jesus IS Omnipotent.
    You have to realize that the devil can shine himself as an angel of light. Did you know that? The Bible says that in 2 Corinthians 11:14 “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.”
    When you hear talk of visions of a “mary’ that points to pray to her for “peace” you better start questioning that. The Mary of The Bible said she was a sinner that needed a Saviour, She never pointed to herself. She pointed to Jesus. There is no such thing as a co-redemptress. Especially not Mary the earthly mother of Jesus.
    Patrick~ WE NEED Jesus only ❤ God has FULLY given us ALL we need through the simplicity of Jesus The Christ.
    It is not about what "I" believe it IS what The Lord has shown me. It was not easy to leave a religion I practiced for many years with a large family in a small community. Faith is NOT based on feelings. It is based on what the Lord has shown us. It is about obeying Him. May you hear the Lord and listen and obey Him when he calls you out through the guiding of His Holy Spirit. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen ❤

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    • Marian apparitions are not all about “praying to her” for peace. The Marian apparitions messages are constantly centered around returning to Christ as He is already much offended by the human race.

      I am very much aware of the devil and his cunning.

      Asking our brothers who have gone before us to pray for us is perfectly biblical and historical. It was the Protestant movement that did away with the practice. All of what I believe on the subject is summarized in the article.

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  2. So, in effect of doing this Catholicism teaches people to talk to dead people-asking dead people to pray for them-and those that are dead can not hear them. Those prayers are unheard.

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    • “And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying: How long, O Lord (holy and true) dost thou not judge and revenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given to every one of them one; and it was said to them, that they should rest for a little time, till their fellow servants, and their brethren, who are to be slain, even as they, should be filled up.” (Revelation 6:9-11)

      The saints mentioned in Revelation are fully aware of the happenings on earth, concerning those that have wronged them and the Lord. This passage exhibits the fact that the saints are aware of us on earth, and previous passages (Revelation 5:8) have shown that also offer our prayers to God, and that contact with them is most certainly not prohibited (Matthew 17:1-5).

      It does not seem that the saints are unaware of what is happening in Scripture.

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      • Dear Patrick ❤ John 14:6. God has done everything we needed for our salvation through Christ Jesus. It is finished and Jesus is the only way to God. His Words not mine. God's doing ~ not mine. God's doing not a religion that tells people they can pray to others to ask Him for things or ask them to pray for them. They can not hear you. According to the practice of Catholicism what God has said and done through Jesus The Messiah is not enough. That is false and has now become a false gospel. If there were more ways to God then Jesus, God would have made that clear in His Written Word and Jesus would not have spoken John 14:6. . If you do not believe this you are making God to look like a liar. God is not a liar. ❤
        Prayerfully, one day you will understand what God has done placing people in your life so that you will seek His truth not rely on a religion full of untruths. ❤

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      • It is always interesting that instead of giving reasonable answers to questions, people veer away from the subject and talk about something else.

        Asking people to pray for you does not imply that what God has done is enough.

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      • I find it interesting that when we are given reasonable answers from the Lord we want to quote from other sources ❤ When the religious veil drops you will see. Until then John 14:6. That is a reasonable answer because it came from Jesus The Christ, ❤

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      • It is a truth, but it does not explain the difference between the passage on the dead that you cited, and the passage from Revelation that I cited. That’s what I’m getting at. And I understand that you are doing your best in what you personally believe in. Planting seeds in the heart of the person. But I believe contrary to what you do on the subject of the Catholic Church. I don’t believe these things because my parents do, or because my friends do, or just because the Pope does. I whole heartedly believe that Christ instituted the Catholic Church as his instrument on earth of bringing souls to Himself.

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      • Dear, Patrick~ It is THE truth. God’s TRUTH ❤ Souls can not be brought to Jesus The Christ Of Nazareth asking dead people to pray for them that can not hear them.
        Only Jesus The Only Begotten Son is Omnipresent and has that capability. Again John 14:6.
        No one else that has roamed this earth has that capability. If they did my sincere question is : Why did God give HIs Only Begotten Son? We would not need Him? Why would you not just go straight to God through Jesus Christ? Why do you think you need any more intercessors then the ONE God has given us?

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      • Claiming that dead saints can hear my prayers does not suppose that they must be omnipresent to hear them.

        Please read thru my article. The Bible is full of passages telling us to intercede for one another. Do you not pray for people interceding for them to God?

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      • Thank you, Patrick, but I do not need your article. I know the TRUTH now through Jesus The Christ alone. Thank you anyway. I pray one day the religious veil drops from in front of your eyes and many millions of others that have been beguiled by a different gospel. ❤ Nothing left to say. I am afraid for you and that you miss the point that The Lord has made for His creation. The simplicity found only in Jesus the Christ. <3.

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      • I believe the Holy Catholic Church to be an institution of God, as it is reasonable both historically and biblically, and have no interest in being seduced by non-Catholic religions.

        I hope that you too make the journey home to the Catholic Church.

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      • God has given us free will. You may choose what you like ❤ That doesn't mean it is right. Interestingly enough I am of no denomination. Just a born again believer brought out of the practice Catholicism and it's "wizardry" by God's Holy Spirit. ❤

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  3. Acts 17:11

    11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

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    • I quote an excerpt from Catholic Answers article “Not By Scripture Alone”

      “Interestingly, though, a closer look at Acts 17:11 reveals that the people of Berea were not sola scriptura adherents at all. In actuality, they were primarily Jews converting to Christianity through Paul’s use of Sacred Tradition. Here’s the verse within its fuller context:

      The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea; and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with all eagerness, examining the scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men. (Acts 17:10-12)

      Luke’s words commend the Bereans for being more noble than the Thessalonians because they eagerly received “the word.” They also examined the scriptures to see if the word was true. So just who were the Bereans? What was “the word” they received and what scriptures did they examine?

      The Bereans, we’re told, were mainly Jews (and some Greeks), not Christians, and they even had a Jewish synagogue. The word they received was Paul’s teaching about Jesus, that same teaching which he sums up in his first letter to the Corinthians, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3). The scriptures mentioned here by Paul are the same scriptures which the Bereans examined the Old Testament scriptures. These were the only scriptures of the day, as no New Testament Scripture existed at the time. Most of the New Testament had not yet been written and what had been written had not yet been canonized so as to attain the status of Scripture. What we see here is a group of people being taught about Christianity by Paul prior to the existence of the New Testament. They eagerly listened to Paul while examining the Old Testament Scripture.

      This all makes sense when we understand this event in its historical context. The event occurred during Paul’s second missionary journey. On his journeys Paul taught the good news of Christianity as Jesus had commissioned him to do. As a Jewish convert to Christianity himself, he knew Jewish Scripture well and he knew that it prophesied about Jesus. He undoubtedly explained this Scripture to enlighten other Jews about the truth of Christianity. These Jews would have to examine their Old Testament Scripture to see if what Paul was saying made sense. It did, and many Jews, including some of the Bereans, became Christians.”

      So in reality these people looked through the Old Testament. If this is “proof of Sola Scriptura, then it is real “Sola Old Testament”.

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  4. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
    16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

    17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

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    • This is taken from my article on Sola Scriptura:

      “Let’s look at this passage a little closer. Does it really help the Protestant argument? “All scripture, inspired of God, is profitable to teach…” Profitable. Hmm. There is a difference between being profitable and sufficient. All scripture is profitable to teach, reprove, correct, and instruct; but that by no means says it is the sole rule of Faith!

      Also, read in context with the preceding verses, St. Paul is talking to Timothy about the scriptures that he has known from his infancy (2 Timothy 3:15). The only scriptures at that time was the Old Testament! So if this is proof of Sola Scriptura, then in reality it is Sola Old Testament! The real message of this passage is that all scripture is profitable, but not sufficient.”

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      • I have nothing against that. God is against us communicating with the dead, When people pass they can not communicate with us or hear us. You are dabbling with the devil that shows himself as light and as a familiar spirit. Jesus told us that we must be born again. I had to be born again to see that what I thought was true was actually against the Lord. It is not my job to convince or convict you. It is my “job” to share what God has led me out of. You can either stay where you are or truly seek God’s truth and not man’s lies.<3 I feel the Lord has given me enough questions to plant on your heart. ❤ Thank you, Patrick. May ye be born again of the Spirit and come out of the traditions of man. ❤

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      • Asking for the saints to pray for us is not exactly communication. We expect to hear nothing back from them. We trust that our brothers and sisters in Christ intercede to God for us as they did on earth.

        How do you know they cannot hear us? Where do you get this?

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      • Dear Patrick, you ask how I know of this. I know of this only because God in His Written Word speaks of it:
        Ecclesiastes 9:5
        5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.

        God says in HIS written Word that the dead know nothing. I didn’t say it HE said it.

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      • You are not reading this in context. It was written before the Redemption, when the just were still in Sheol.

        Eccl. 9:10:

        For there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.

        This passage speaks of the state of the Old Testament dead in Sheol. You cannot make it apply to the “dead” in Heaven. The saints in Heaven are alive.

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  5. It is not recorded in Scripture or part of Tradition that Jesus asked any of those people to pray for him, which is logical, as he did not need our prayers, being the Supreme Being.

    I do not believe that it is recorded that any of those Patriarchs did either.

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    • So, my next sincere questions would be:
      Why would God not record such an important instruction in His written Word The Holy Bible?
      Why did Jesus not give that instruction when He was here? Why would He have said HE is the way to God? (John 14:6)
      Why does God’s Written Word say there is only One Mediator the Man Christ Jesus? (1 Timothy 2:5)
      Why would Peter, Paul, etc not give that instruction?

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      • Using the one Mediator argument would make it impossible for you to pray for your friends. Why can’t they go directly to God with prayers? Asking the saints for their prayers does not dethrone Christ as the one mediator. It simply makes our own mediator-ship possible.

        Also, it should be noted that Scripture is not the only revelation of God to man. Not everything is in the Bible.

        Using your same logic, why did God not record the exact canon of Scripture within the Bible? Why do none of the Gospels say “These books are divinely inspired”? It took several Church councils to decide what books are Scripture and what are not.

        Not everything is recorded in Scripture, and Scripture does not claim such.

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      • No, that is not what I just said. I said that the Bible (God’s WRITTEN Word) is not the only source of Revelation. Oral Tradition is also Revelation. I deal with this in my article on Sola Scriptura.

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      • Sincere questions ❤
        Who said that God's revelations for us (what we NEED to know and WHOM we may go through to get to HIm is not written in His Word?)

        Then what would this mean:
        **Matthew 15:3 – But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?

        And this:
        *Revelation 22:18-19
        18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
        19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

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      • Don’t mix up the traditions of men with Apostolic Tradition. They are two different things. The traditions of men are unnecessary, bad practice, because it was done with the motive of self glory, and Apostolic Tradition is that passed down oral teaching of the Apostles.

        And your other quotes from Revelation is talking about if anyone takes away from (or adds to) the prophecy of Revelation. “this book” in the passage is Revelation. It does not literally mean the entire Bible itself.

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      • 2 Timothy 3:16-17

        16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

        17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

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  6. I have a sincere question, Patrick. Did Jesus pray to or through or ask Moses-Noah-Abraham to pray to God for Him? Did Moses-Noah-Abraham etc ask anyone that had passed before them to pray for them or did they all go straight to God?

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  7. Well put explanation. As a recent revert to Catholicism, I can understand why so many are reluctant to pray to saints. It sometimes feels strange to say things like “protect us, St. Joseph.” But so long as we understand that when we say such a prayer, we are not invoking St. Joseph to protect us through some power distinct from God. Rather, we are acknowledging his ability to intercede to God on our behalf for protection.

    God’s saving power is (in my opinion) shown all the more when we understand that He can show His power through the prayers of His finite children. Like you said, Patrick, this is no different that simply asking a friend to pray for our protection.

    Great job, Patrick!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for checking it out man! Yes, it needs to be realized that Catholics are not attributing the saints a power that is alien to God. He shows his majesty through his children — the saints. That really is the key. Great point.

      Liked by 1 person

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