Praying To Saints
12 May by Martha of Ireland
I tried to link, not working. if interested you can find her piece at: InternetMonk.com
I have been following the discussion (get them dunked) with great interest. Thanks everyone, especially Ariel for framing a few of questions that I have been pondering for a few years.
The link I posted above was helpful for me, Martha's intelligence, humor & wit is well worth your time to read if you have questions, or are like me, dragging my (your) feet to Rome.
I would love feedback on what Martha has to say, and what any of your ideas are on the practice of praying to the Saints. Curious to learn more... Thanks!
Gail.. i just now found your post.. there has been so much posting lately some posts i did not see.. this looks interesting! i will post after i look at her stuff.. thanks for sharing! love christine
Praying To Saints
12 May by Martha of Ireland. Internetmonk.com
( I did get permission to repost this here)
Martha of Ireland is without a doubt the smartest person I have ever conversed with, even if our conversations all occur through email. Knowing that she is 1) a faithful follower of Jesus, 2) a Catholic, and 3) not afraid to share her thoughts, I went to her with a topic that troubles many Protestants—and, to be honest, many Catholics as well: Praying to saints. A very controversial subject to be sure.
I had always heard from my Catholic friends that we Protestants have it all wrong. We are not to “pray to saints,” but ask these saints to pray for us. I thought Martha would say, “Yes, that’s the way it is. Why can’t you people of the Reformation get it straight?” But as always, Martha has a few tricks up her sleeve.
This is a longer essay than we normally offer to you. Still, I had to leave out much of what she wrote to make it fit here, but all that I edited is good stuff as well. Anyone else think that Martha should be working on her first book? JD
Jeff has very kindly asked for my opinion on another matter, so without further ado, I am quite happy to plunge into the fray on a fraught topic. I should warn you, I will probably drive you mad because I am going to be saying both “Yes” and “No” at the same time – not so much “Either/Or” as “Both/And.” If you are expecting calmly reasoned exegesis of scriptural warranty for the practice, boy, do you have the wrong vampire! This is going to be from the heart, not the head (ironic for me, since I generally approach my faith from the standpoint of convincing the intellect). So this is personal reaction and my own views on the topic; if I blithely gambol through the flowery meads of heresy at any point, do not blame the Magisterium, which is the last word on the subject. As always, if you are unsure about any point of dogma, doctrine, or discipline, check the Catechism. Individual members of Holy Mother Church can have very weird opinions, but the Church herself is protected from error (she is not protected from making a darn fool of herself in various matters, but that is a question for another day).
And it is a very fraught topic indeed.
Yes, the strains of “bowing down to idols,” “worshipping Mary,” and my particular favorite, “praying to dead saints” have once again, like the voice of the turtle, been heard in the land. And the usual reply, which I have seen from American Catholic convert apologists, goes something along the lines of “No, you’re mistaken. Catholics do not worship Mary. Catholics do not pray to saints. What we do is ask the saints to pray for and with us, the same way you would ask a friend or your congregation at church to pray for you.” And that is fine as far as it goes, and true, and I am not going to say they are wrong.
Except I am going to say they are wrong.
Not about the worshipping Mary bit – we don’t, and we’re not supposed to, and those who do treat Mary as on a par with the Trinity (or even worse, as Mark Shea points out, as another Pope) are in error and need to be gently corrected (or given a belt of the crosier, whichever is more effective). But on the “praying to the saints” bit – sorry, my fellow-Catholics, but we do. This is where the experience of converts lets them down; often, they are from some kind of Protestant background and come into the Church for various reasons, but they have not had the kind of cultural, immersed in it, folk religion experience. And so when they – in perfect fidelity to the teaching of the Magisterium – trot out the line about “It’s just like asking your friend Jane or Pastor Bob to pray for you,” then they are right. And they are wrong. They are right, but it’s a thin rightness. To steal a line from C.S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces, “Holy wisdom is not clear and thin like water, but thick and dark like blood.”
Let me start off by addressing the qualms, uneasinesses and downright objections as expressed by members of the Western and Eastern traditions. I’m not mocking them – have there been, are there continuing to be, and will there be in future, excesses, scandals, and abuses? Yes, there have, there are and (human nature being what it is) there will be. You are absolutely correct to point out the errors and pitfalls and the lived experience you have of where things went off the rails. You were brought up in an atmosphere that now seems to you one of idolatry and superstition? I’m not going to quibble with you or tell you that you were mistaken (though I would like to point out, in a spirit of gentleness, that going to the Church – East or West – for teaching might have helped you with the problem rather than relying on what, for want of a better term, is best summed up in the phrase “cultural Catholicism/Orthodoxy”). You and I share this much in common: we’ve been there, we’ve imbibed this with our mother’s milk, and we know it from the inside in a way that outsiders, no matter how sympathetic or devout or fully cognizant of the Faith, just don’t have the background to appreciate.
To everyone else: if the subject of the veneration of the saints makes you uneasy, good! It should do! Because we are not dealing with a safe and tame subject here, a rational religion. Other commenters have said how it seems to them that the whole Catholic thing with blood and bones is morbid or creepy, and of course, we cannot forget the Queen of Scary – Mary. Also, “dead” saints. Very important about the “dead” part; leave it out and you lose the whole savor of necromancy and diabolism. Combine “dead” and “Mary” and you get something like one of those urban legends as depicted in horror movies: “Stay away from pictures and whatever you do, don’t light any candles, or she’ll come and get you and drag you away!!!!” The apologists put it in a nice, neat formulation, but unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. It’s too bloody, too fleshy, and too earthy. “I pray to St. Joseph” as being based on the old phraseology of “I pray you” as a variant of “I ask you” or “Please”? Why, yes, that is so. But we are not saying “Please” as you might ask your neighbor at table to pass the salt; we are suppliants craving favor and boons of the mighty and powerful at the court of the King.
So, yes, indeed, I agree: abuses? Yes. Superstition? Yes. Powers verging on the magical attributed to them? Yes. Anything you want to say about the Reformation and how necessary it was – all correct. The most lurid denunciation any fire and brimstone preacher ever made of wonder-working icons and weeping statues – sure. The plethora of local titles accorded to Our Lady, so that the Virgin of one locale is put in contention with the Virgin of another, to the point of absurdity – indeed. Holy wells and standing stones (as we have in my country) being remnants of paganism, and glaring remnants at that – I cannot deny it. Am I sometimes embarrassed by it, by the mawkishness, sentimentality, folk-religion verging on folk-magic, gaudy, tawdry, excessive messiness of it all? Yes, I am. The rational, reasonable side of my brain wants to tone it all down, and have a proper, seemly, correctly-based practice in accordance with the strictures of theology and with a biblical verse pinned on like a badge. But that’s the part of my brain that is also inclined to go, “Yes, but how can you believe this whole God thing anyway? Is it reasonable? A personal deity who is watching the fall of a sparrow, in this ancient, vast universe? Aren’t you ashamed as a lover of science to be so out-of-date?”
And that’s the part of my brain that hears an uncomfortable echo of “Could not this ointment have been sold at a great price, and the money given to the poor?” in the way I’m thinking and reacting to these sobbing, slobbering, running after signs and miracles people who sell their beads and make novenas and have sure-fire prayers that never fail, but contingent on being published (usually the one that begins “O most beauteous flower of Mount Carmel”) – all those people the latchet of whose sandals I am not fit to undo. I knew already about my inner Pharisee; here I have discovered my inner Sadducee.
All that being said, I have to make one thing very clear: it is all real. The faults may be real, but the saints are real too. Their powers are real. Real reality. Because we should be able to do miracles – Christ said as much to the disciples when healing the boy possessed with a spirit, after coming down from the Mount of the Transfiguration. “And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” Is the Word speaking falsely here? Is the Truth telling lies? If we are to hold literally to the inspired and inerrant word, what do we do with this passage? Take the most extravagant promises of the most outrageous Pentecostal or Charismatic gathering with faith-healings, slayings in the Spirit, spiritual warfare against demons, prophecy, speaking in tongues and what you like: they’re perfectly correct! We should be able to do miracles! We are to be saints and nothing less!
Or, as the Eastern Orthodox tradition maintains (as this excerpt from an article by David Bentley Hart puts it):
“Theologically speaking, the proper destiny of human beings is to be “glorified” – or “divinized” – in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, to become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4), to be called “gods” (Psalm 82:6; John 10:34-36).
This is the venerable doctrine of “theosis” or “deification,” the teaching that – to employ a lapidary formula of great antiquity – “God became man that man might become god”: that is to say, in assuming human nature in the incarnation, Christ opened the path to union with the divine nature for all persons.”
Whatever else you take away from what I am going on about here, there are two very important points I want to make in all seriousness and that I want you to consider with all gravity – so important that I nearly feel I should be typing in all capslock:
I. We are to share in the life of God. The doctrine of theosis explicates this, but moreover we have the words whereby we are told we are sons, not slaves; that we are temples of the Holy Ghost (and a temple is the dwelling of the god; therefore, we have God in-dwelling in us); that we will judge angels – much more than this, that when we are to pray, we are taught to say “Our Father” (not our Lord, our God, our Master, but our Father). But not as in Buddhist enlightenment, attaining to Nirvana and being re-absorbed into the cosmic ocean of consciousness, losing all illusory individuality by sinking back into the Ultimate Reality beyond the snares of sense-knowledge.
We will be ourselves still, we will be ourselves even more than we are now in our earthly life, and we will put on our resurrected and glorified bodies, and dwell in the New Jerusalem come down to the New Earth, and we will be gods gazing on the Beatific Vision and never exhausting the glories of the Marriage Feast of the Lamb.
II. Following on from this, flowing out of this, is that miracles are not magic. They are not the manipulations of mana or a spiritual force or even, as some Hindu myths about demons have it, forcing the gods to grant boons and obtaining powers through the practice of austerities (e.g. the myth of the demon Mahisa who, after performing heroic austerities, was granted the boon that he would be invincible to all opponents except a woman or the demon who performed so many austerities that the god Brahma was forced to grant him the boon of immortality as a reward) or becoming in tune with the universal life-forces and focussing our wills to achieve our desires under the guise of invoking the Lady and the Horned God (who are archetypes but not ‘real’ gods).
All that the saints have, they have through God. And they have this because their wills are in perfect conformity with the will of God. They are made images of God. They are mirrors, fountains, fires. They are conduits of His power like completing an electrical circuit. I have nothing better to give you than images, because I am speaking of what I feel, not what I know, but I know it is so and I recommend you to stop reading this and go get your hands on some kind of a version, any version, of the Paradiso, the culminating volume of the “Divine Comedy” by Dante, and let a poet tell you what prose cannot make clear. Why am I throwing chunks of poetry at you? Because I think Dante addresses the fear that seems to me to underlie part of the disquiet about the veneration of saints.
Side-note: it is veneration, not worship. Worship is for God alone. Yes, I know it all sounds like hair-splitting, but then again, it’s hair-splitting to insist children know how to spell and use correctly “too/to/two” because it makes a big difference in meaning, no matter if they all sound the same. What is that fear? That we are taking from what is due to God; that we are denying God what is his; that in a sense we are even denying or replacing God with Mary and the saints.
I disagree, and on several grounds, but the one I’m going to emphasise here is that God may be jealous (he will have us and all of us and nothing kept back, as Lewis puts it) but he is not greedy. What do the saints have, what do any of us have, that is not from and of God? That is what Dante expresses in his similes of light and rain. The saints have united their will with God’s will, so that their will is in him and his will is in them. They are drinking full from the river of life and the fountain of living water so that, like the bowls of a fountain, they overflow and spill the water into the lower bowl that is filled in its turn from them. They are the mirrors reflecting the light of God from above and the light of God in each other, shining back and forth, transmitting it and making the surroundings brighter by it.
It is literally impossible either to take away from or increase what God is and has. Didn’t we all learn in Sunday School or Christian Doctrine class or at our mother’s/granny’s knee – we were created from love, not because God needed us or needed anything from us, but because He wished to have creatures to love? When I was five years old and starting school, the first thing I ever learned from the nuns in catechism was this: “Question: Why were we made? Answer: We were made to know, love and serve God in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.”
Nothing of self, nothing of me, nothing of I am here by my own merit. They make each other brighter by shining upon each other the love that descends upon them from above, that light and love which cannot be diminished or lessened no matter how many share in it or take it into and through themselves. And just to tease you, what St. Bernard advises Dante to do – look upon Mary to prepare himself for gazing upon the Blessed Trinity:
…’Look now on the face that most resembles Christ,
for nothing but its brightness
can make you fit to look on Christ.’
Remember, there’s a double metaphor (or do I mean simile?) going on here: Mary’s face most resembles the face of Christ because He took flesh of her and so in His human aspect, He looks like her (well, duh, you’re all saying). But she most resembles Christ not just because she is His mother, but because she is (for Catholics and Orthodox) without original sin, and mainly because she is so conformed to the will of God that it has transformed her to His image.
“Hold on there a moment, Martha,” you’re all doubtless saying. “That’s all well and good, but come on: we’re not talking about the glory of God, we’re talking about invoking saints to get some benefit. How can you justify that? How can you say it works?”
Dante, bro, take it away:
‘Regnum celorum suffers violence
from fervent love and living hope.
These conquer the very will of God,
‘not as man may master man, but conquer it
because it would be conquered, and,
once conquered, itself conquers by its goodness.
Oh, okay, you want me to explain it and not fob it off on a better man? Okay, you’ve had the pearls, here comes the swine!
For starters, I’m not going to get into the “treasury of merits” and so on and so forth. You want that, Google is your friend and there are tons of apologetics sites out there just waiting for your custom. So, let’s take a step back and let me ask you something.
What is it with all this “dead saints” stuff?
Seriously, what? My immediate reaction to “Romans praying to dead saints and Mary who is dead” is “Mary isn’t dead!” That’s from the gut, but on mature reflection (all ten seconds of it), haven’t we just celebrated the feast of Easter? Are we not in Eastertide even as I type? Did we not have the beginnings of a lively discussion on crucifix versus cross and being a Resurrection people? All that being said, why on earth should you talk about the faithful who fell asleep in Christ being dead?
Death is different now, don’t you remember? Christ has defeated death. From now on, we no longer have the Graeco-Roman and Babylonian miserable underworld of thin, bat-voiced shades who scrabble in the dust and are pathetic remnants; we do not go down to Sheol and all our deeds and all our good name dies with us; we are ransomed, restored; we have died with Christ in baptism and we will rise with Him.
So explain to me how an eternally assured and properly saved saint in this life upon whose heart God lays words of counsel and bidding and who is Spirit-filled and mighty in prayer to strive and save suddenly loses all that once his or her soul leaves the body and goes to be with our God and King? In the flesh, while still in your mortal life, and still suffering the ills and weaknesses of mortality, you were heir to all the promises of Scripture, but now, being in the living presence of God makes you weaker?
I don’t get it, I truly don’t. The Communion of Saints is a family; all our forerunners in the Faith who went before us and who are part of that cloud of witnesses. How can they, who are aware and awake and seeing clearly, be worse off than we here on earth? I know we see the tendency to end up in the Scylla of near-Gnosticism, where only the spiritual has any merit and life on earth is downgraded and dismissed, but I don’t see we correct that by veering off to the Charybdis of ‘only in the body can we do anything and the soul is a dream.’
So – the Church Triumphant in Heaven, the Church Militant on Earth, and the Church Suffering in Purgatory, all making up the Communion of Saints, all helping and loving one another. We see this most in the interactions of the Holy Souls in Purgatory and us on earth, as we pray for one another (never forgetting that the souls in Purgatory are already the saved, not getting a ‘second chance’ at salvation after death), but though we can do nothing for those in Heaven, they still remember us and help us.
Even in stupid things like “St. Anthony, find my glasses/car keys/wallet.” Even though they have more important things to do (like worship God), they don’t forget us. That’s the two halves, as far as I can make out, of the objection to the veneration of saints: first, that they’re dead, parted from their bodies (and so powerless) and second, that they have turned their back on earth and its affairs (because they’ve put all that off with the flesh). The twin poles of “too much emphasis on this world” and “too much emphasis on the spirit over the flesh.” The balance lies in the middle way between these two extremes.
Why should a soul in glory that is brighter than the sun and radiant with bliss care tuppence about someone’s lost glasses or getting a job or selling their house or protect me from thunderstorms? Because no deed is too small for love. Because God watches the fall of a sparrow. Because He emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant. Because they’ve been in our shoes and if they could do it, there’s hope for you.
“Okay, stall the digger there, girl”, you are all rightly saying. “Nice, warm and fuzzy imagery there. We’re all one big family and we pray for one another. Nothing wrong with that, perfectly innocuous, but that’s not what we mean. Parading around mummified corpses, bones, vials of blood, bits of cloth? What’s up with that?”
Let me say, I completely sympathise. Take a place like the Capuchin Crypt in Rome or the Sedlec Ossuary: it looks and sounds like something out of Ray Bradbury’s famous story about the mummies of Guanajuato which is indeed weird and creepy and very scary. But strangely, they’re not. They’re odd places, but somehow the pictures (I’ve never seen them in real life and would doubtless be too chicken to do so) are somehow comforting in a strange way. Yes, they’re skeletons and the wizened corpses of monks, but they’re beyond the terror of death. They are our latter end, but their souls are alive, and praying for us (and asking our prayers) and we all of us look forward to the resurrection.
As to what virtues are in dried-up bones, that anyone should think they could be any help:
“And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet.”
If I can accept that this is true, I can’t turn around and say that the finding of the True Cross is only a myth because they used the test of healing to find out was it the right one:
“But the wise and holy Macarius, the president of the city, resolved this question in the following manner. He caused a lady of rank, who had been long suffering from disease, to be touched by each of the crosses, with earnest prayer, and thus discerned the virtue residing in that of the Saviour. For the instant this cross was brought near the lady, it expelled the sore disease, and made her whole.”
I can doubt this ever occurred, but I have no warrant to believe one miracle and disbelieve the other because of lesser credibility.
“Fine, fine, but why not go to God in the first place? We need no mediator other than Jesus!” you tell me. And you’re right, we don’t.
On the other hand…
… At the Wedding Feast of Cana, Jesus did not refuse the couple because “Hey, you should have asked me first, but because you went to my mother instead and got her to ask me, sorry, I’m not doing anything for you!” He did not rebuke the cripple at the Pool of Bethesda for looking for a cure from an angel instead of asking God outright (or even “Son of David, have pity on me”, as the blind man did); He healed the man.
As to “bowing down to idols”:
“In this thing the LORD pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon thy servant in this thing. And he said unto him, Go in peace. So he departed from him a little way.”
But that’s going too far afield. You don’t have to venerate saints. You don’t have to ask their intercession. But there is one thing I would ask you to consider: the Calendar of Saints. Whether you go by the traditional or the revised one, there’s a saint for every day. Think about them – find out who’s feast is when. What can they say for you? Maybe they’re too weird or too obscure or too foreign to your situation. But maybe someone struggling with a bad temper will find encouragement in contemplating St. Jerome (if a curmudgeon like him could do it, anyone can!)
That’s the great thing, in the end: there’s a saint for everything. You’re young, you’re old, you’re rich, you’re poor, you’re smart, you’re thick as a brick, you’re male, you’re female, you’re married, you’re single? There’s someone out there for you! Someone who walked in your shoes: unhappy marriage? Fellow-workers have it in for you? Sickness and poverty? You’re a giant intellect – meet our scholar saints! You can just about spell “cat” – here’s St. Joseph of Cupertino, turned down by several religious orders because he was too intellectually challenged!
Whether it’s someone like the martyrs of the Early Church who we remember in the Canon of the Mass (Ss Perpetua and Felicity, for example) or someone from the 20th century, all through the centuries they’ve been there; suffered, struggled, and conquered. And are still here for us and with us – not gone, not snuffed out, but gone ahead, pointing out the way and giving us a helping hand.
The one thing I like about the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels (a modern architecture style cathedral I’ve moaned about before) are the tapestries depicting a selection of the Communion of Saints:
To take one section picked at random from the North Gallery, we’ve got:
John Baptist de la Salle – 17th century French
Paul Chong Hasang – 19th century Korean martyr
Moses the Ethiopian – 4th century Egyptian
Kateri Tekakwitha – 17th century Mohawk-Algonquin American
Thomas More – 16th century English
Or, from the South Gallery, we have:
Philip – one of the Twelve Apostles, 1st century Galilean
John Bosco – 19th century Italian
Mary of Jesus Crucified – 19th century Galilean and so obscure I never heard of her before
Francis de Sales – 17th century French
Philomena – 4th century Greek martyr (allegedly; there is controversy over whether she even existed)
And yes, that last is a sample of the messiness and irregularity and over-enthusiastic cultus that grows up around even the hint of a martyr’s tomb. You know what? I don’t care. I actually like being a member of a Church that includes a companion of Christ and a teenager who might not even be who we think she is together, and treats them the same. It’s scandalous, it’s shocking, it’s irreverent, and it doesn’t matter, because the greatest scandal of all is the Incarnation and the Crucifixion and the very notion of a God who numbers the hair of our heads and creates quasars at the same time.
I don't know if you're still around, but I wanted to thank you for posting this. Finally got a chance to sit down and read the whole thing. Very interesting. She's a hoot.
I was never drawn to the idea of praying to Saints when I started getting back into my Catholic roots.
However! When I did pray to a Saint, last summer, I had the distinct experience that very night of being lifted up into some heavenly realm and there I was with her spirit in a way that words cannot explain. I felt like I caught a glimpse of what she enjoys, where she lives...unbelievable PEACE. My spiritual director shared with me that she actually 'senses' a particular Saint when she prays sometimes.
On the intellectual/psychological level, I see and appreciate the many Saints as providing us with rich, diverse models of how to be holy. We need role models of how to be 'good,' albeit broken, Christians. Many of the Saints actually said at the end of their lives that they would help us earthlings. It's incredible to think of those blessed souls caring deeply about us, interceding for us (like Pop-pop shared in his 'on-fire' post on the "Praying for Others" thread).
And did you catch the story about St. Thomas Aquinas converting the abortion doctor through a dream?
Today, the Catholic Church honors St. Aloysius Gonzaga (1568-1591). He joined the Society of Jesus after giving up all rights to his nobel inheritance. He died young of the plague through ministering to those with the disease.
At Mass today, Father told the story of how this Saint wrote a letter to his mother when he knew he was dying. He told her: don't weep for me for I am going to a place where I will be able to do you more good than I can do for you here.
It's amazing to me that the deceased live on and that the love they have for us not only lives on but becomes more pure and perhaps more powerful to affect us.
It was my turn to preach at our Eucharistic service today and I said a little about Aloysius. He was indeed a very remarkable young man, though some of his asectical practices seem a bit extreme during these times. E.g., he took a vow of chastity at age 9 and never looked upon the face of a woman after that (including his mother). I couldn't recommend that to anyone, but you've got to admire his zeal and willingness to do what he thought would please God.
I've just read Martha of Ireland's discussion that Gail posted. Honestly, it made me wince.
A bit too erratic. Has the potential to do more harm than good , I think, regarding explaining why Catholics believe in united prayer being efficicious when the saints are included in our praying. If I were a protestant I would be put off by her discussion, methinks. Heck, I am as a Catholic.
Pop-pop, what parts of it do you disagree with?
I was wondering the same thing, Pop-pop.
Thanks for reading my mind Paul.
"I don't know if you're still around, but I wanted to thank you for posting this"
Opps. I missed your comment Shasha. ( :
Bear with me, I am a simple gal who has been sitting on the fence on converting to Catholic faith. Martha's essay dismissed many of my earlier teachings that the fundy's downloaded in my brain. Seriously, you would cringe if you knew all the lies in my head about the Catholic church. Martha helped me to understand that the saints are part of the great cloud of witness and they are not usurping Jesus Christ in any way, shape or manner. That was what I was taught, along with things like the Catholics have statues that are idols and y'all bow down to worship them instead of Jesus... O, I could go on and on... So, slowly with the help of y'all here, EWTN, and attending the Catholic church my mind is being renewed. I loved her sense of humor, it helped tear down a few misconceptions, humor has a way of getting past my defenses... I am sure you will point out the error you find in it, I know it is important to keep doctrine in its proper place, and I do appreciate that about you.
However, as a gal stuck in limbo... Do I join the C.C. do I stay a Protestant???... Martha cleared up a few more of the false teachings I had been taught on praying to the saints.
And for the record, I must go slow on becoming a Catholic, I ran like a chicken with my head cut off from denomination to denomination over a 30 year period. Well, I spent 14 years at one church that did a little good, lots of scolding from the pulpit and lots of catholic bashing.
So, I have a lot to unpack, and I don't think God is wringing His hands waiting on me, baby steps for this ole girl.
Gail, what about checking into some kind of "Catholic update" or "Remembering Church" group at one of the Catholic parishes in your area? That would give you a chance to air out your questions and hesitancies and get some feedback in the context of a group of seekers.
Never heard of them! I will check out those groups in the fall. I have a small group that hashes it out. And I have Carol, her & I go way back to the the old church we were in. We have been prayer partners for years, she converted to the Catholic church 8 years ago and she explains, mentors, and directs me.
One of my best friends, a secular Carmelite and a very mature, reasonable woman, just told me this story yesterday, with astonishment:
I was at Pentecost Vigil Mass and suddenly felt St. Teresa of Avila. Her presence was right there! She came closer to me, got so close to me and was almost physically leaning into me. The Saint said to me: "Everything you believe is TRUE. IT IS TRUE! Everything--and MORE!"
Honestly, the Catholic Church is the happenin' place to be.
Paul, Shasha, Gail,
Perhaps I should have winced in silence.
What made me uncomfortable was more her style than her content. I felt that her style might be too provocative for evangelical ends, thereby doing more harm than good in facilitating understanding.
Of course, some might and indeed have enjoyed her flamboyance and imagery. Fresh can be fresh; and provocative can bear fruit.
So maybe I had been unnecessarily worried. Depends upon the ears on which it falls.
Today is the Feast Day of St. Therese of Lisieux.
I've just begun reading her autobiography, "The Story of a Soul," which has sold millions and is published in 38 languages.
She wanted to be small and hidden and was seemingly ordinary and obscure when she died at age 24 as a Carmelite nun. But there's nothing we can do to keep the Glory of God from shining in His Saints for after her death her published story exploded with blessings.
One month before she died, Therese said: "What I have written will do a lot of good. It will make the kindness of God better known."
Here's a clip from the website, Society of the Little Flower:
"My mission - to make God loved - will begin after my death," she said. "I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. I will let fall a shower of roses." Roses have been described and experienced as Saint Therese's signature. Countless millions have been touched by her intercession and imitate her "little way." She has been acclaimed "the greatest saint of modern times." In 1997, Pope John Paul II declared St. Therese a Doctor of the Church - the only Doctor of his pontificate - in tribute to the powerful way her spirituality has influenced people all over the world.
From that website, here's the link to some of her quotes on prayer:
St. Therese, pray for us that we can deeply know the kindness and Love of God...
Thank you, our dear sister Therese...
There have been several movies about Therese, some better than others. Youtube has some good clips, too. E.g., http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/ and check out some of the sidebars.
Whoops...This link is Catholic Encyclopedia from the other thread.
I started reading Story of a Soul this afternoon. As an Anglican, I have no problem asking for a little saintly intervention. I'm very attracted to St Therese, have been for a long while. There's a great French movie about her life. The sound in this film is incredible. Very intimate and sensual:
St Therese movie
I'm also really drawn to Padre Pio. I think he was a special saint for the 20th century, given all its conflicts. I'm drawn to saints who share the suffering of Christ for the world. Victim souls. Here's a little unique footage:
(What happened to Shasha and pop-pop btw? Were they frightened off by our resident Buddhist?)
St.Therese of Lisieux in' Story of a Soul'
"My vocation is Love", that "it is Eternal".
I seem to remember that Shasha is preparing
to take her vows.
An interesting line from Story of a Soul which I just had to quote. Therese, speaking of her relationship with her sister Celine:
"It was, so to speak, the same soul giving us life."
One can imagine the atmosphere of love permeating the Carmelite convent with all the Martin sisters gathered there.
I would like to share my testimony about praying to a Saint. The first time I read Romans it really blew my mind and I decided to do a study on it. I borrowed a few recently published commentaries on Romans from a local seminary library and tried to do an exhaustive study. When I was about 90% finished, I got burned out. I had taken about 1000 pages of notes and may have overdid it, but like I said, this letter really blew my mind and I wanted to try and learn all I could from it.
So, when I got burned out, I felt bad about not finishing my study and really opened my heart in prayer. I said something like, "Paul if you're out there listening to me right now, I can really use your help. If you want to, please help me finish my study on your letter to the Romans."
I didn't discern any response during my prayer, but shortly after that prayer I was suddenly influenced so strongly to work on my study that, even though I was sleep deficient from staying up long hours to work on it while not neglecting my other duties, I was energized and mentally invigorated so much that I worked on it around the clock for about two days and finished the study with power.
No matter what anyone else says to me, I will believe till the day I die that the spirit of the Apostle Paul came to me after I prayed to him, and somehow helped and empowered me to finish studying that great letter.
Sincerely, herbThis message has been edited. Last edited by: herb,
Oh and by the way, for me, I will never be truly finished studying Romans. I've probably read it well over a hundred times now and get a deeper understanding of it each time. I recently looked at my notes I made during my initial study and feel now that I had only begun to understand all that Paul, inspired by God, wrote in it.
I read a comment one time about Paul's frame of mind when he wrote that letter and it said something like: when St Paul wrote Romans he had just finished evangelizing throughout his missionary area for about three years strait and had converted literally thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of non believers to Chistianity during that period. He was at the very peak of his carreer and, inspired by God, captured the greatest and most complete understanding of the Christian faith in one letter ever!
Romans is by no means a complete understanding of Christianity and, in my humble opinion, needs to be ballanced by the letter from James and supplimented by the rest of the Bible, but it is an unblievably deep and profound letter.This message has been edited. Last edited by: herb,
Hi herb. Yes, Romans is an amazing letter, and it sounds like you're becoming a world expert on the topic.
Your experience of answered prayer is a good example of how Saints can and do intervene. You might have had the same experience if you had prayed directly to God, but St. Paul was a good one to pray to for help in understanding his writing.
Hi Phil. Your right about praying to God directly. He has power to open our minds to any Scripture He wants to. And your right about praying to Saints. I was, praise God, given proof that praying to a Saint can really help.
As far as becoming a world expert, don't let the amount of work I put into it fool you, I'm a slow learner and usually need to do about 10 times as much study as a smart person, just to learn what they can, relatively easily. If I can come to understand Romans, almost anyone can, especially if God helps them This message has been edited. Last edited by: herb,
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