I love learning about the Catholic saints! Their testimonies about their relationship with God lift my spirits and deepen my faith. As a Methodist, I’ve enjoyed learning more about the communion and intercession of the saints.
Understanding the Saints
The “communion of saints” is the term used for all Christians, in Heaven and on Earth, united as one. One Biblical reference to this is in Revelation 5:8. This verse describes the 24 elders in Heaven holding incense bowls filled with the prayers of the faithful.
This topic can be jarring for Protestants (including myself!). Do the saints in Heaven actually hear our prayers? For this matter, I found a video by the Catholic YouTube channel The Counsel of Trent:
Trent Horn (the author of this channel) references Hebrews 12:1 in this video. Hebrews 12:1 is the verse mentioning the “cloud of witnesses” in Heaven, the saints who’ve joined God forever. Trent also references James 5:16, which urges the righteous to pray for one another. He argues that this verse means that the righteous in Heaven also pray for us.
During my studies on Catholicism, I’ve learned more about Purgatory, where some Christians go to be cleansed of sin after death. Something I remember reading is the souls in Purgatory (referred to as the “Church Suffering” or “Poor Souls”) pray for us still on Earth. This article by Ascension Media describes the Catholic debate on this matter, with references to supporting quotes by saints such as St. Alphonsus.
Praying to the Saints
A reasonable question for any of us to ask is, is it ok to ask saints in Heaven for help? The Evangelical YouTube channel Polite Leader did a video on this discussion, arguing that praying to the saints is equivalent to worshiping or serving them. In this video, the author opens it by discussing Jonathan Roumie, star of the Chosen series, venerating the Italian St. Padre Pio:
Polite Leader did a similar video on how Catholics approach Mary. His understandable concern here is that Christians who venerate the saints are violating Biblical condemnation of idol-worshipping or speaking to the dead. He mentions Deuteronomy 18:11, which forbids people consulting the dead.
On the other end of this discussion, the Catholic channel Ascension Presents did a video explaining the Catholic view on this. Fr. Mike Schmitz explains that asking the saints to pray for us is the same as asking our cohorts here on Earth to do the same:
Fr. Schmitz is right to remind us that the saints in God’s presence are more alive than any of us. Because of this, their prayers for us help us. Fr. Schmitz assures us that asking the saints to pray for us doesn’t deny that Jesus is the sole mediator between God and man. When we ask the saints for help, like we do in the “Hail Mary” prayer, we’re simply asking for a sibling in Christ to lift us up.
This is what’s called the “intercession of saints“. The saints in Heaven watch out for us and act on our behalf. One could surmise that the grandest example of this is the Blessed Virgin Mary’s famous apparitions around the world. Through these appearances, she’s pointed us toward Jesus and a closer relationship with Him.
Testimonies of the Saints
Like Fr. Schmitz pointed out in this video, the testimonies of the saints encourage people to draw closer to God. Reading about the testimonies of my favorite saints continues to deepen my faith. A few of my favorites are St. Gemma Galgani, St. Padre Pio, and St. Faustina Kowalska.
During my time in college, I dealt with some really disturbing nightmares and midnight experiences. I learned that this is referred to as “spiritual warfare”, and I’m not the only Christian to have dealt with this. While I’ve only experienced this in my nightmares/waking up at night, St. Gemma suffered physical altercations and temptations by the Devil himself.
St. Padre Pio also suffered from these direct attacks. Not only did he deal with getting physically assaulted by his spiritual enemies, but they also tried to deceive him with divine forms. These demons would sometimes manifest as the Blessed Virgin or Jesus Himself. But St. Padre Pio knew that he could discern these spirits from the real thing. What a reminder to “test the spirits” (1 John 4)!
Perhaps my all-time favorite saint, St. Faustina likewise experienced these disturbing encounters. Demons would angrily confront her for snatching souls out of their grasp. In response, St. Faustina invoked her guardian angel, and trusted in God to defend her.
I also love St. Faustina’s work to tell the world of God’s Divine Mercy! In fact, today (the 24th) is the Feast of Divine Mercy. Today is a day to remember that God desires all souls to approach Him, to cherish His Mercy, and to trust Him to forgive all their sins.
I’m thankful for the saints, for all they’ve done and continue to do for us.
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