Father Dave and the Busted Halo Team get a call from a Protestant man who is trying to wrap his head around Catholic teaching about Mary: “I’m trying to understand [why], as much as I appreciate Mary and believe in her [importance], I have a hard time that we pray [to] a saint if they’re not all-powerful, all-present, and all-knowing. … As a believer in Christ, how is it that Catholics pray to Mary, and why would we want to pray to Mary and not just to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?”
Father Dave begins by clarifying a common misconception about Catholics’ relationship to Mary and the saints: “Even if Mary and the saints are now, we believe, absolutely in heaven with God and surrounding God’s throne and with the beatific vision, we don’t necessarily [believe that] all of a sudden [they] have, as you described it, the omnipotent powers of God.”
Next, Father Dave introduces the term “eschatology,” which he defines as “the study of what happens after this world, after we die, [whether] it’s heaven or hell or purgatory.” He explains that there is not a concrete eschatological answer as to how saints receive our petitions for their intercession, because, understandably, there aren’t any (or at least many) who have been to heaven and come back to us on Earth with answers to those kinds of questions.
As to why Catholics believe in intercessory prayer, although it is not explicitly discussed in the Bible, Father Dave mentions again the three places from which Catholic belief is derived: “Sacred Scripture, Sacred Traditions (which is not everything everybody ever thought of who was a pope or a bishop about how to decorate the living room in the Vatican or anything like that, but more like the Nicene Creed), along with the current teaching office of the Church. If you think of Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture as historical things that we look upon, previous councils of the Church and previous encyclicals of popes [for example], [then] the teaching office [concerns the present and ongoing teachings of the Church]. … So, one of my first answers as a Catholic priest is that the Church has assured us of this for 2,000 years, that intercessory prayer actually does work.”
Father Dave goes on to cite several biblical passages from which we derive the Sacred Traditions about intercessory prayer. “So while there’s not a specific Catholic teaching about how God delegates or redistributes those powers of multi-tasking and being able to hear all the prayers, we are confident that somehow it does work.” (Original Air 08-15-17)