Umm…you’re praying to WHO?

There was a time when I used to think it was wrong to talk to the saints in Heaven.  It seemed too much like idolatry to talk to anyone but God “up there.”  Besides, what would be the point?  God is the head honcho.  Why not go straight to the top with whatever was on my heart?  That was before I had a grasp of the beauty of the Communion of Saints and how it relates to the Body of Christ.

The Church is The Body of Christ.  Most Christians know this.  However, we often fail to consider what it means to be a body.  The Church is not just an organization, although it is organized.  The Church is a living organism, like our own human bodies, and the human body of Jesus.  A body has many parts, with only one head.  A body can be hurt and wounded in various ways.  However, the unique thing about The Body of Christ is that Jesus is the head, and you can’t kill Jesus.  Head shots just bounce right off.

Consider also that everything goes through the head of a body.  If my right arm has an itch and I scratch the itch with my left hand, the entire experience is processed and mediated by my brain.  A body can do nothing without passing it through the brain.  This is why the Scripture says that Jesus is “the one mediator.”  As we hear in the Catholic Mass, everything is done “through him, with him and in him.”

Another thing Christians forget to consider is that there is only one Church, and the saints in Heaven are members of that Church.  They are just as much a part of the Body of Christ as any Christian.  They are not dead, they are alive in Christ.  They are more alive than you and me since they are completely free from any tendency to sin!  If I talk to a saint in Heaven, I’m not talking to a dead person.  I’m talking to another part of the Body, and the whole experience is possible because of the one mediator, the head, Jesus Christ.  It’s like one hand scratching an itch on the opposite arm.  Everything goes through the brain.  When I talk to a saint in Heaven, I’m not leaving Jesus out or going around him, I’m partaking of his one mediation which keeps the whole body alive!  Like everything else about Catholic teaching, it is ultimately all about Jesus.

We are told in Scripture to pray for each other.  Most Christians will not hesitate to ask a fellow Christian to pray for them when times are tough.  That’s a type of mediation.  When we intercede for someone with prayer we are acting as a mediator between that person and God.  This does not leave out Jesus or bypass Jesus or offend Jesus.  The same holds true for the saints in Heaven.  If “the fervent prayer of a righteous person avails much,” how much more righteous can a person be than to be in Heaven with Jesus?  I want those folks up there praying for me, too!

Lastly, let me address the word “prayer.”  When I “pray” to a saint, I am not “worshiping” that saint.  Only God deserves worship.  It’s like when people used to say “Pray, tell me what dost thou meanest?”  To “pray” is just to “ask.”  When I “pray” to a saint, I’m just “asking” for that saint to pray for me.  It’s not like the prayers of worship that only belong to God.  It’s a beautiful thing to be able to talk to the saints in Heaven, and to have them “scratch an itch” for me.  And it’s only possible because of the one mediation of Jesus, the head.

By the way, don’t worry about if or how the saints will hear you.  The head has really good ears.  Your message will get through!

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