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.
Nicole,>>Very nicely written. You have summed up an entire week’s worth of conversation in a couple of paragraphs. I agree with you that it doesn’t seem wrong or evil, but I just wonder if it’s pointless. I mean, we humans are not omnipresent, omniscient, (or all the other omnis like God is) so how in the world can a dead saint hear what we are saying? When you talk to your mom you know she hears you. When you talk to God, you know He hears. Why not just bring your request directly before the omni-everything God of Heaven?>>I like your new style of blogging, by the way. I look forward to reading more.>>Leslie
I have the same question as Leslie.
“How can a dead saint hear what we are saying?”>>My first question is, where are the saints? We know that they are in heaven, I don’t think we KNOW that they are in the Throne room of God, but the presence of the Lord does fill the heavens. And if our prayers rise as incense before God filling the Holies, then MAYBE the “dead saints” share in them. >>My second question is, what are the glorious saints doing with their eternity? >1) We know they are our witnesses>2) They are worshiping God>3) They are still growing, gardening, and I assume praying (this is precisely because you are right, Les, they are not omnis like God, and therefore are still learning and growing). >>My last thought would be that if there was correspondence between Heaven (or Abraham’s bosom) and Hades in Luke 16 (Lazarus & the rich man), would it be a stretch to think that those in heaven can hear us? (which of course begs the question of them responding to us, which I am in no means ready to assert!)>>Thoughts?
#2>>I didn’t address your last question, Les, about bringing your request directly before God. I would reference you back to the idea that someone who has actually gone through TB would better know how to pray for T___________. Also, I have a burden for many sick and dying people who I have been involved with, and it is heavy. Asking someone like my mom to specifically pray for F____ helps with that burden. If I could also sort this issue out, what a relief it would be to know that St. H_______ was also praying for F_____!
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Our blogs (at the moment) seem to parallel each other in theme. For now, two things. First, I very much appreciate your third comment. I have no proof that dead saints can hear our prayer requests but I am not convinced that asking them to pray for us is wrong or unhealthy. Second, I think you hit on something very key about asking others to pray on our behalf. It is something I have not been able to articulate well and you nailed it (and so I am grateful). You said that asking others to pray for us or needs we are concerned with, helps with the burden. What a lovely picture of the body of Christ carrying one another. You ask good, tough questions. I know the answers will not be easy.
An in-person comment that may help resolve the uneasiness that Leslie brought up with the saints hearing us:>Why not petition God to ask St. Therese to pray for my TB patient?