to…errr…..for…..ummm….with Saints? Without being Roman.
The question that must be addressed first, it seems, is who is part of the Church. There have typically been two parts of the Church of Christ: the visible and the invisible, comprised of “faithful men” who have preached the Word purely and administered the Sacraments according to Christ’s ordinances (BCP, Article XIX). The writer of Hebrews tells us that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses (12:1) directly after having written about the faith of our ancestors and fathers from the Old Testament. Here, as well as in other places, we are told that we live our lives before those that have gone before [not to mention the angels] and their faith should inspire us. My point here is that they are still involved in the life of the Church, in our lives. We also call them the Church victorious, those who have fought the good fight and been called faithful servants due to their adoption in Christ as sons and their participation in the Body of Christ (both at the right hand of the Father and the Bride of Christ on earth). So, they are still part of the Church Body, they are our brothers and sisters forever and ever.
Secondly, it is a very clear principle throughout the New Testament that we should be offering up prayers on behalf of the Body. Christ prays for those that would believe (Jn. 17:9; :20), Paul records what he is praying for the different churches (Col. 1:9; II Thes 1:11), and he asks for prayers on behalf of himself and other churches (I Thes 5:25; Heb. 13:18). I don’t think even this much is necessary to prove, but the point is that we are supposed to be praying for one another, and for the churches around the world that we don’t even personally know.
Thirdly, in Rev. 8:3 the angel gathers all the prayers of the saints together with incense and these surround the Throne. I don’t believe I overstep the texts cited by thinking that the victorious saints as our witnesses are raising their prayers with ours for those things that St. Paul tells the Church to pray for (e.g. holiness, purity, perserverance, etc…). And if you grant me that, then I don’t see any problem with asking St. Therese of Liseaux (patron saint of tuberculosis, which claimed her life at 24 years) to pray for my brother T____________who has tuberculosis. She knows better than I how to pray for him in his specific illness and she is our sister in the victorious battle of faith.
A couple more thoughts.
1) I don’t know if I have enough of a basis to say that St. Therese will pray for T_________ in the same way my mother will if I ask her (i.e. I don’t have the verbal assurance).
2) Even if you think that there is not enough of a foundation to propose this, I don’t see how we can say that it is wrong or evil to ask the saints to pray for ourselves or the brethren.
That’s all for now. Please give me your thoughts.