(Dedicated to the Holy Spirit and all those seeking to know the Truth)
WHY DO CATHOLICS PRAY TO MARY AND THE SAINTS?
Welcome to the LESSON 3 in our CATECHESIS CORNER.
In truth, one of the essential necessities for living in faithfulness to Jesus is prayer. Prayer is to a Christian what water is to a living fish. It can be seen as the simplest and the greatest part of all the work that Jesus has entrusted to us, the easiest and most difficult, the foundation and the climax, the core and the strength of all other works. “The historic Christian practice of asking our departed brothers and sisters in Christ—the saints— to pray with and for us which is not contradictory to the sacred scripture and evident in apostolic tradition has been criticised or come under attack in the last few hundred years. This practice dates to the earliest days of Christianity and is shared by Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, the other Eastern Christians, and even some Anglicans—meaning that it is shared by more than three quarters of the Christians on earth.” Today we want to expose THE MIGHTY EFFECT/POWER OF COVENANTAL PRAYER. There is no prayer mightier, more effective, more acceptable to God, more pleasing to God, and more rewarding than a covenantal prayer of God’s family. The successes of this prayer do not only rest on a contracted unity but more and solely on a covenantal unity established by Christ. In the new and everlasting covenant sealed by the blood of Christ Jesus, Christians, that is, believers of the new covenant shares a bond of unity that is everlasting as the covenant. The unity of the new covenant is an eternal unity that surpasses time and space, that is, it is not hindered by physical absence (death) or by distance, for its essentially spiritual. Jesus Christ is the basis of this unity, the center and the link, the fountain and the climax of this living relationship that covers every member of the new covenant. In this new covenant established by Jesus, our interactions with each other are based on the love of Christ we share. The love that radiates the relationship of the new covenantal family is the love of God which is timeless and eternal. So the love, the communication, the concern and the assistance we share in this new covenant of Jesus is not limited by culture, place, language, time and death. In Christ Jesus we have a living and eternal relationship with each other. I am united with all those who are united with Christ, and together we are into a loving relationship with each other, whether living here on earth or with Christ in heaven, for they in heaven are what they are by the grace of God given through Christ Jesus, just as we ourselves still on earth are also product of God’s grace working through Christ Jesus. Their living in heaven do not separate them from us, do not stop our friendship, do not hinder our concern for each other and do not hinder the flow of assistance simply because the covenant that binds us together is eternal. In truth their physical absence even enables them to be more united with Christ in his ministry of intercession in heaven. Just as when on earth they lived for Jesus, so in heaven they intercede with, in and through Jesus the only mediator to the father for the good of the church and the salvation of the world.
When the friends of God, when men and women of great faith, when holy men and women, when the saints, when powerful intercessors both in heaven and on earth united by the new covenant of Jesus becomes our prayer partners, collaborators in our intercessory ministries, takes up our prayer request together in Christ knock at the father’s door of divine grace, divine intervention, divine help, divine favour, divine uplift, divine break-through and supernatural abundance, how great will our testimonies be, how melodious and sincere, joyful and thankful will our praises be, in gratitude to him who has made the interaction of the saints in the new covenant possible. Hebrew 13:1 says Let mutual love continue, I exhaust all believers to keep the fellowship with saints which is not hinder by death. This real, living and loving interactions / intercession among all members of the new covenant in Christ Jesus do not by pass Jesus but takes place in and through Jesus. It brings in us the consciousness of the covenant through which we can access and approach the father. The consciousness of the covenant is the consciousness of Jesus himself the mediator, the author and the sacrificial victim of the covenant. It affords us the opportunity to have friends in heaven, all thanks to Jesus the unbreakable link between us and them and the focus of our friends. We live in a spiritual companionship with the host of heaven even while on earth. Indeed we need to honour and cherish the legacies of these friends, brothers and sisters of ours in Christ, the heroes of the faith, who have faithfully lived for Jesus while on earth. As the letter to the Hebrews 13: 7 states, we must imitate their faith. We should venerate the members of the new covenant who have gone to unite fully with Jesus, by telling their stories, for their stories is the story of how Jesus Christ transforms lives, their stories is the story of how Jesus goes around calling, liberating, empowering, using men and women in different times, cultures, places and categories to demonstrating his presence, love and concern for humanity.
When we recall, venerate and ask for the prayers of our brothers and sister in heaven, we do not diminish the mediatorship and the glory of Jesus, for Mary and the saints are God’s masterpiece. Just as an artist is not displease at the admiration and words of appreciation show to his artist designs, so Jesus is please when we appreciate his glory, wonders, grace and power demonstrated in the lives of the faithful children, for anything done to God’s servant is done to Jesus, whom they represent in an ambassadorial capacity. Among God’s faithful servants, that is, Christ faithful followers the Blessed Virgin Mary comes first, because in God’s design of creation Eve surpassed all other creatures after Adam. So also in divine plan of redeeming (recreating the world anew) the world, Mary as the new Eve surpasses every other after Jesus the new/second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45). Secondly Mary received and cooperated with the singular favour that sets her apart from all creatures. This unique grace of becoming the virgin mother of God is God’s highest honour ever bestowed on any creature. This highest historic divine uplift of a lowly servant accounts for the countless admirations and appreciations in various formulations down the ages to Mary. And as the Lord’s handmaid and queen mother, she puts her supernatural privilege at the service of her son’s mission and kingdom. Since the scripture says that “no one comes to the Father but through Me” (Jn 14:6). So the mediatrix of Mary takes place with Jesus, in Jesus and through Jesus. That is, she participates uniquely in the intercessory ministry of Jesus in heaven.
Let me emphatically emphasis that all that Mary is, is by the grace of God and the gifts of Mary, which her various offices and titles designate are means to an end (that is, Jesus and his kingdom) and not ends in themselves. Hence when friendship or companionship with Mary and the saints takes you away from Jesus, when nearer to Mary becomes farer from Jesus; know that it has been unappreciated and misappropriated. True friends and children of Mary are doers of God’s word and lovers of Jesus who keep his commandments. (John 2:5, Revelation 12: 17)
“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. Do not weep, for I shall be more useful to you after my death and I shall help you then more effectively than during my life. I want to spend my heaven in doing good on earth. …. Communion with the saints. It is not merely by the title of example that we cherish the memory of those in heaven; we seek, rather, that by this devotion to the exercise of fraternal charity the union of the whole Church in the Spirit may be strengthened. Exactly as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself”: We worship Christ as God’s Son; we love the martyrs as the Lord’s disciples and imitators, and rightly so because of their matchless devotion towards their king and master. May we also be their companions and fellow disciples!”- (CCC 956-957). St. Augustine writing Against Faustus the Manichean around A.D. 400, said “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” Let us end this lesson with Romans 8:38-39 “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Indeed, not even death can separate us form the love of Christ sealed by the New and eternal Covenant.
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, may our learning deepen and strengthen our faith in Christ Jesus the TRUTH in the name of Jesus-Amen. Thanks for reading through, see you in our next edition, endeavour to carry out the study guild below little by little daily before next lesson/edition.
FURTHER BIBLE READING: John 11:25, Luke 9:28-31, Lk 20:37-38, Lk 9:10, Job 5:1, Ps 103:20-21, Ps 148:1-2, Rev. 8:3-4, Rev. 5:8, Rev. 6:9-11, James 5:16, 1Tim.2:1
CATECHESIS STUDY GUILD: CCC No. 944-963
BOOK RECOMMENDATION: “SURPRISED BY TRUTH” by Patrick Madrid
TAKE HOME QUESTION: Is it against the bible to ask Mary and the Saints for Prayer?