Catholicism Explained - Praying to Saints

I fully intended to put this up on Sunday. My excuse for tardiness this week? National Novel Writing Month. Not that that's a great excuse, but...

 Writers can be a lonely bunch.:

Our previous Catholicism Explained posts have included:

The Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist
Is the Eucharist Literal or Symbolic?
Mary Ever-Virgin
The Immaculate Conception

And today we're talking about praying to saints.

Basic Theology

St. Paul famously said that the Church is the body of Christ. He taught that we are all connected -- that we can't get along with each other, any more than feet can get along without hands or ears can get along without eyes. 

In Luke 20, Jesus teaches that God "is not the God of the dead, but of the living." All those who have died in God's love are still a part of the Church -- still a part of the body of Christ. And so, we're still connected to them.

In Revelation 5:8, St. John tells us of saints offering the prayers of the faithful to God: "Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God's people." 

So the Church has always seen prayer to those in Heaven as quite in keeping with Biblical truth. 

The Communion of Saints:
Here's a lovely little illustration of the Catholic doctrine
of the Communion of Saints! Up in the sky is the Church
Triumphant, the saints with God in Heaven who have
fought the good fight and won. Down around the altar offering
their prayers and sacrifices in union with the priest is
the Church Militant, the saints-in-the-making who are
still fighting the good fight. And down underneath the
altar in the refining fire are the holy souls in Purgatory,
the Church Suffering, who have fought the good fight
and won but who still have sins to be purged away.
(We'll talk about them one of these times.)

Forbidden contact with the dead?

Once concern non-Catholics may have concerning prayer to saints is that it is forbidden contact with the dead. However, the saints aren't dead. They're alive with God forever -- more alive than we are, in a way. 

Praying to saints isn't at all like contacting the dead through a medium. When we pray to saints, we aren't talking to them through our own power, or some kind of dark magic, or even their own power, but through God. It's only because God allows us to talk to each other that we can do it. If God didn't allow the saints to hear our prayers, they couldn't hear our prayers.

St. Bernadette of Nevers, France. She is an incorrubtible having died in 1879; she looks the same as the day she died.:
St. Bernadette's incorruptible body.

Praying to saints is not idolatry, because "praying to" and "worshiping" are two different things. When we pray to saints, we aren't giving them the glory due to God alone. Instead, we're asking them for their prayers, just as we might ask other Christians on earth for prayers. 

Free Catholic Holy Cards - Catholic Prayer Cards - St Therese of Lisieux - St. Joseph - Our Lady of Guadalupe - Sacred Heart of Jesus - John Paul the Great - Support Missionary work:
St. Anthony's a buddy of mine...
the lost articles he's found for me!

Why ask the saints for prayers? Because the saints' prayers are totally awesome! They're closer to God than anyone else is. They see Him as He is, and so they are like Him. And because they've been through the same earthly struggles and temptations and sins that we're going through, they take pity on us. They want to help us in the fight they've fought and won. They're powerful intercessors before the throne of God. 

And yes, we do praise the saints in prayer. But not all praise is worship. As we talked about in our last Catholicism Explained discussion, it's good to honor honorable people. 

I'm not catholic but I like this!:


In case you're wondering what Catholic prayer to saints looks like, here are some examples. I'll scatter the prayers to saints with prayers directly to God Himself, so you can get an idea for the differences between them.

The Hail Mary (a prayer to Mary, the greatest of saints)
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen. 

The Glory Be (a prayer directly to God)
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. 

Holy card of the Holy Trinity:

The St. Michael Prayer (to St. Michael)
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do oh thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God cast into Hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen. 

The Archangel Michael defeating Satan - Guido Reni:

The Our Father (directly to God)
Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen. 

The Guardian Angel Prayer (to a guardian angel)
Angel of God, my guardian dear,
To whom God's love entrusts me here,
Ever this day be at my side,
To light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.

Angel Prayer:
Angel of God,
my Guardian dear,
to whom His love
commits me here,
ever this day (or night)
be at my side,
to light and guard,
to rule and guide.
Amen. :

Prayer Before a Crucifix (directly to God)
Look down upon me, good and gentle Jesus, while before Your face I humbly kneel and, with burning soul, pray and beseech You to fix deep within my heart lively sentiments of faith, hope, and charity, true contrition for my sins, and a firm purpose of amendment; while I contemplate, with great love and tender pity, Your five most precious wounds, pondering over them within me and calling to mind the words which David, Your prophet, said of You, my Jesus: "They have pierced my hands and my feet; they have numbered all my bones." Amen. 

~J   this little boy ...ponders the sacrifice of the love Jesus has for us....beautiful:

Prayer to St. Thomas Aquinas for Purity (said by members of the Angelic Warfare Community)
Chosen lily of innocence, pure St. Thomas, who kept white the robe of Baptism and became an angel in the flesh after being girded by two angels, I implore you to commend me to Jesus, the Spotless Lamb, and to Mary, the Queen of Virgins. Gentle protector of my purity, ask them that I, who wear the sign of your victory over the flesh, may share also your purity, and after imitating you on earth, may at last come to be crowned with you among the angels. Amen.

Saint Dominic encouraged a religious community in Toulouse in 1214, to be governed by the rule of St. Augustine and statutes to govern the life of the friars, including the Primitive Constitution. (The statutes borrowed somewhat from the Constitutions of Prémontré.) The founding documents establish that the Order was founded for two purposes: preaching and the salvation of souls.:

Prayer to the Holy Spirit (directly to God)
O Holy Spirit, beloved of my soul, I adore You. Enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me, console me. Tell me what I should do; give me Your orders. I promise to submit myself to all that you desire of me and to accept all that you permit to happen to me. Let me only do Your will. Amen.

Holy Spirit:

What are your thoughts on praying to saints? Do you have any questions? Comments? Concerns? Criticisms? Let us discuss! 


  1. Those prayers are cool! I knew a few, but there were also some I did not know.

    1. Aren't they pretty? :) I just learned the one to St. Thomas this past summer when I joined the Angelic Warfare Confraternity. :) Which is a really cool thing...I should do a post on it. :)

      Sorry it's taken me awhile to reply to this, Belle! NaNo... ;)

  2. I don’t think I can reply in my usual way, tonight. This post hit home in some ways I wish it hadn’t- but without really touching on what was affecting me. I don’t think I can say what’s on my heart and mind now, so I’ll leave it as is.

    Until next time, I suppose. Thank you, Lucy.

    1. Glad it was helpful in some ways, Blue! Can't wait to continue this discussion. :)


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