Catholics pray to Mary and practice necromancy

What is the biblical basis for Catholics praying to Mary and the various saints?

In order to answer the question, it is important to understand that Catholics (as well as the Eastern Orthodox and other Eastern churches) are sharply between worship (or worship ), which is only addressed to God, and Adoration that refers to the honor given to distinguish the saints.

When Catholics (and Orthodox) to When Mary and the other saints pray, this is never seen as an act of worship, but only as veneration. It should be noted that Catholics (and Orthodox) are also encouraged to pray directly to God. Indeed, for them, prayer in its various facets (praise, thanksgiving, supplication, supplication, and worship) is directed primarily to Him, not saints (and when it comes to worship, it is directed just to God).

Hence, the prayers that Catholics (and Orthodox) address to saints are mainly for their intercession. Intercession is something that Saint Paul clearly encouraged among the living:

First of all, therefore, I request that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for all human beings, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we can live a peaceful and quiet life, divine and dignified in every way. That is good and joyful before God our Savior who wants all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2: 1-4, emphasis added).

Saint Paul also asked people to pray for him, as Geremia emphasizes:

I appeal to you, brethren, through our Lord Jesus Christ and through the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me (Rom 15:30).

However, Saint Paul also teaches that the saints have a more perfect union with their Creator than we do:

Right now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I partially know; then I will know fully, just as I fully knew (1 Corinthians 13:12).

If those who have not yet entered into the fullness of union with God (“for all have sinned and have failed in the glory of God”, Rom. 3:23) can intervene for one another, so much the more so those who already have it this glory can intervene for those on earth.

Indeed, intercessory prayer is often recommended in scripture. Moses had the privilege of speaking to God face to face:

Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face as a man speaks to his friend (Ex 33:11).

Whenever an Israelite had to ask God for a favor, he always went through Moses. Certainly the ancient Israelites only had a partial understanding of God and His goodness, and so they feared going directly to God, but this imperfect understanding does not detract from the value of intercessory prayer. The intercession of Moses continued by the Levitical priests throughout the history of the people of Israel. (The entire book of Leviticus describes this role in detail.)

So Scripture clearly encourages intercession, and we do not forbid us from seeking that intercession from the Saints in heaven. In addition, it seems reasonable (in the opinion of Catholics and Orthodox) to seek the intercession of those closest to God.

It is true that Scripture does not explicitly endorse the practice, but the requirement for an explicit endorsement of every practice is a rather restrictive criterion. (For example, the Bible does not specifically advocate revival meetings, altar calls, or other typically Protestant practices.) However, there is evidence in the scriptures that the early Church was a firm believer in the intercession of the saints. Probably the best example is found in Rev. 5: 8:

And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each with a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

In this context, the "saints" (Hagioi) are actually the members of the Church who live on earth. In this passage John (the author of Revelation) takes for granted those who stand before the throne of the Lamb (i.e. God the Son) and has the task of presenting the prayers (incense) of the people on earth. This is the intercession of heavenly beings on behalf of those still living on earth. (The 24 elders likely represent the 12 Patriarchs of Israel and the 12 Apostles; so John is most likely referring to here human , not angelic advocates.)

Now let's examine some possible objections to the Catholic (and Orthodox) practice of praying to the saints:

Are the saints not dead?Hasn't God forbidden contact with the dead?

The saints are "dead" in the sense that they are no longer physically present on earth, but are actually very much alive in heaven, in perfect union with their Creator. Jesus himself makes exactly this point when answering the Sadducees:

And as for the resurrection of the dead, haven't you read what God said to you: "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 (Mt 22:32).

It is true that God necromancy forbids or conjures up the dead:

There will be no one among you who burns his son or daughter as a victim, practices divination, or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a wizard or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who asks about the dead. for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them away from you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God, for these nations that you are about to expropriate listen to fortune tellers and fortune tellers. But you, the Lord your God, did not allow you to do this (Deuteronomy 18: 10-14).

Necromancy means forcing the soul of a dead man to appear on earth through magical incantations. Praying to saints for their intercession has nothing to do with this practice. Necromancy, unlike prayer to the saints, does not respect the freedom of the conjured (even if it is successful: there is always a great risk of conjuring an evil spirit in place of the dead person in question).

In summary, the saints are not dead, nor is praying to them a forbidden occult practice.

How can the saints hear us?

Although Revelation 5: 8 indicates that those standing before the throne of the Lamb are aware of our prayers, one possible objection is that the saints, mere creatures, are not omniscient and therefore cannot hear all of our prayers.

Catholics (and Orthodox) would answer that the saints as creatures are certainly not omniscient; That is, they do not have all the knowledge as their Creator does. However, they enjoy the direct vision of God, and that vision includes knowing all the things that are relevant to them.

Furthermore, time in heaven does not pass like time on earth:

But don't overlook this one fact, beloved ones, that with the Lord one day is a thousand years and a thousand years is a day (2 Peter 3: 8).

For a thousand years are in your eyes just as yesterday when it is past, or like a watch in the night (Ps. 90: 4).

Since the saints gain knowledge through their vision of God, they have no problem hearing our prayers even if these prayers are numerous.

Isn't Jesus the only mediator?

One possible objection arises from the following passage in 1 Timothy:

For there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2: 5).

Catholics (and Orthodox) do not deny the uniqueness of Christ's mediation based on incarnation. Jesus' unique status as the One Mediator does not prevent God from establishing lesser mediations that are subordinate to the First. Jesus bridges, so to speak, the gap that Adam's sin opened between God and man. this does not prevent him from building other “bridges” between himself and the people on earth. In fact, Jesus clearly did so by organizing the Church and the apostles to lead them.

In any case, St. Paul cannot forbid intercessory prayer (which is a secondary mediation) because he commanded it in the very preceding passage. (See above.)

Can't we pray to Jesus directly?

Catholics (and Orthodox) would emphatically affirm this. We can don't just pray directly to Jesus, we do should do so, and this should be the focus of our prayer. You would say that intercessory prayer (including asking the Saints for their prayers) is simply one of the ways God wants all members of the Church to be involved in the work of salvation: if we ask the Saints to pray for us, this is it it is also the case that they (like us) pray to Jesus.

Caleb ♦

It is nice to see that some posts are brought up with real expertise in Catholic theology on relevant issues! Thank you for taking the time to put together high quality answers like these.

jotik

Thank you for this great answer! What I still do not fully understand, however, is why or how God's direct vision involves them hearing our prayers (i.e., "having knowledge of all the things that are relevant to them"). What is the basis for this belief? Second, note that Rev. 5.8 mentions only the 24 elders, not others who are considered saints by the Church or Scripture (e.g., Enoch, Elijah, or Moses). Please explain in more detail!

AthanasiusOfAlex

@jotik, the blessed vision means that you see God directly. But God himself is the source of all knowledge, and in fact he is omniscient. When we see God face to face, we no longer need to acquire knowledge in the complex and incomplete way that we now receive (i.e., through the mediation of our senses), but rather directly from God. For example, the blessed angels know things (since they have no bodies, so they have no senses either). hardly to be, in other words, with God in heaven means to be cut off from loved ones in the world.