A listener named Amanda asks, “How do I ask for a saint’s intercession without praying to them?” Amanda shares that she became Catholic a year ago and is still trying to understand how to pray to saints without it feeling like we are worshipping them.
Father Dave explains that we often get caught up with wording when speaking about prayer. “Prayer is a lot of things. It could very well be sitting quietly and listening for the voice of God. It could be sitting at Mass, or asking God for something … yes, we are communicating to and with the saints. Would some people call that praying to the saints? Yes. There’s a lot in our Catholic tradition, including prayer cards at the back of the church, that say, ‘Prayer to Saint Therese.’ It’s a bit of an academic or theological distinction to say that we don’t pray to saints; we ask for their intercession. Well, that’s true, but how do we ask? We kind of box ourselves into a corner when we say we don’t pray to the saints.”
“But one thing we definitely don’t do is worship the saints. We do not give worship to anyone but God alone. We don’t even worship Mary. We can reverence her, but not worship. But if in our heart we say to a saint, ‘please, may I have your intercession?’ It’s not a stretch to call that praying to the saints. We can use semantics and say we’re not really praying, we’re just asking for their intercession, but it is during your prayer time, so you are praying.”
Father Dave points out that Catholics like to be clear about the intercession of the saints to avoid confusion about the common misconception that Catholics worship saints. (Original Air 12-05-18)