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Cici
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Posted: Dec 13 2006 at 6:40pm | IP Logged Quote Cici

Just when this convert thinks she's finally "getting it" I run into this sort of thinking. My own, of course, nobody else to blame.

I understand asking the Saints to pray for us - just as we would ask friends here on earth to pray for us as well. Makes sense (and Jenn's blog post on "friends" in heaven - I think specifically about St. Joseph and moving really went far to helping me understand this, thanks). But why someone different for the various "types" of requests. Please don't take offense to this, but would I really pray to St. Elizabeth of Hungary for bread I'm making to turn out yummy? It seems so odd - and foreign to me. I know someone here prayed to Santa Lucia for someone's eyesight - but I don't get it. I don't have different friends for each of my needs - why would I have a different Saint for each need? Does God listen to Saint Lucy more than, say, Saint Elizabeth for eyes? Or the reverse for bread?

And some of the prayers seem so darned superstitious. For example, a St. Joseph prayer card I have says "whoever shall read this prayer or hear it or keep it about themselves shall never die a sudden death..." it also says "say for nine mornings for anything you may desire. It has never been known to fail..." Really? because I read this prayer I won't die a sudden death, etc..."? And, saying something like this for nine days to get something I "desire" seems so - so manipulative. Like, "Hey God I'm not sure what you're going to say to this request...but I really want it so I'm going to say it for nine days to Saint Joseph and maybe he can twist your arm...."

Really, I've read quite a few books/websites, but they never seem to answer these kinds of questions - just the Saints are our friends aspect.

Help!

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Posted: Dec 13 2006 at 7:03pm | IP Logged Quote mommylori

The St Joseph's prayer was written for that perticular reason, dh said it daily while in war, though he blew up 3 times hitting IE"s and lost some friends he made it home alive.
As for the others, I would describe it like this. You do have friends for diffrent things, like my friend kerri is a bible expert, if I need a quote from anywhere in the bible, she is who I call.lol My best friend Claire went to school to be a vet, when my pets are sick or I have an animal question I call claire. When I am upset with my dh and need a prayer I call kerri, she understands adn doesn't judge but can listen and make me feel all better. When I have a baking issue I call my grandmother she is a baking expert. And when I have a parenting issue, I call francis, raised 10 of her own children, and was a pedatric nurse.
If I went to claire for a baking issue she would laugh and say huh, I don't cook, sure I will pray for you be I don't know anything about baking.lol The saints are like that, they experienced diffrent things, so we go to them for diffrent problems just like we do our friends in the world.
I hope you understand what I am trying to say.lol
As for superstitious,more like asking for a bit of guidance from those who are really good and specialized in certain things.lol
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Posted: Dec 13 2006 at 8:17pm | IP Logged Quote SeaStar

Cici-

There are a lot of things I don't understand about the saints- I have questions similar to yours. When I was in Padua (before kids) I saw St. Anthony's tongue on display. His tongue! Why????? It seemed so creepy to me.

All I can think is that God uses various means to reach people, and having a specific saint to call on for a specific problem is a great comfort to people in times of need. A friend in the field, so to speak....

And- while some people may enjoying seeing a tongue on display, I'm afraid I'd just rather remember St. Anthony as a whole person. I guess I don't fully appreciate/understand the whole saints "relic" issue.



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Posted: Dec 13 2006 at 10:03pm | IP Logged Quote Helen

Cici wrote:
Just when this convert thinks she's finally "getting it" I run into this sort of thinking. My own, of course, nobody else to blame.

I understand asking the Saints to pray for us - just as we would ask friends here on earth to pray for us as well. Makes sense (and Jenn's blog post on "friends" in heaven - I think specifically about St. Joseph and moving really went far to helping me understand this, thanks). But why someone different for the various "types" of requests. ...


Spiritual reading is food for the soul. I particularly like to read the lives of the saints. I like to understand the things they say by knowing more about their lives. I try to find out the way they behaved in certain circumstances because it helps me to make decisions in my own life.

If we take St. Elizabeth of Hungary as an example, she helped me greatly to understand the way a married woman can become a saint.
Insights

If I understand what you are saying, I think you may be taking her connection with bread a little out of context (a little bit) and that may be the source of confusion (if that is the right word) for you.

In this example, St. Elizabeth was charitable to the extreme, she would give away what she needed to eat much to the consternation of her relatives. So, when she was "caught" giving to the poor again - a miracle occured to protect her. The bread turned into roses.

Was she a baker? No. Can she help you with making bread - sure - but that is not the important aspect of calling upon the saints.

We have the custom of calling upon different saints in different instances because they were good at something. Just the way you contact a dentist when your tooth aches and not your accountant. The saints were professional Christians who lived a life of heroic sanctity. Many of the saints were "specialists" in a certain field. So, we turn to them for a particular need we share with them. They were successful. WE hope to be successful as well.

Then there are a few saints who were good at EVERYTHING. St. Joseph falls into this category. St. Teresa of AVila assures us that his prayers never failed her. (She is a saint as well.)

Maybe this is the origin of the
"never known to fail" part of prayers.

Cici wrote:
And some of the prayers seem so darned superstitious.

Some requests are superstitious. However, if a prayer is backed up by sacrifice, by a good life, intent to imitate the virtues of the saint - I don't think you can call that sort of prayer superstitious.

Nine days is a traditional way of praying based on the first novena prayed by the early Church between Ascension and Pentecost Sunday. Just as families and nations develop their own personal traditions which reflect their heritage. Catholics have certain practices which reflect our common family background.


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Posted: Dec 13 2006 at 11:09pm | IP Logged Quote kjohnson

SeaStar wrote:
Cici-

There are a lot of things I don't understand about the saints- I have questions similar to yours. When I was in Padua (before kids) I saw St. Anthony's tongue on display. His tongue! Why????? It seemed so creepy to me.

All I can think is that God uses various means to reach people, and having a specific saint to call on for a specific problem is a great comfort to people in times of need. A friend in the field, so to speak....

And- while some people may enjoying seeing a tongue on display, I'm afraid I'd just rather remember St. Anthony as a whole person. I guess I don't fully appreciate/understand the whole saints "relic" issue.



St. Anthony's tongue is venerated in a reliquary because he was both an amazing preacher and this particular body part is incorrupt. It is a miracle. When I die, I can pretty much guarantee that 800 years later my tongue will be dust like the rest of me! Incorruption is a miracle that points to the future resurrection of the body.

As far as relics in general. This goes back to the Old Testament. In 2 Kings 13:20-21 it reads, "Elisha died and was buried. Now Moabite raiders used to enter the country every spring. Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man's body into Elisha's tomb. When the body touched Elisha's bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet." Or in Acts, pieces of cloth that had been touched to the body of St. Paul were used to heal people (Acts 19:11-12).

Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, really nothing less than a living and breathing Icon. From the very beginning, the early Christians carefully guarded and venerated the relics of the martyrs. Think about it, their bodies will someday be glorified in Heaven. How amazing is that? What else could we possibly do but honor this part of them.

Our family has a reliquary of earth and bone fragments from the Catacombs in Rome and a First Class Relic of St. Augustine on our mantel. We keep a candle lit before them at all times and it never ceases to amaze me on a daily basis that these relics will someday be radiantly glorious in eternity. What a gift and what a reminder to the faithful of the great gift that awaits all of us.


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Posted: Dec 13 2006 at 11:14pm | IP Logged Quote alicegunther

kjohnson wrote:
Our family has a reliquary of earth and bone fragments from the Catacombs in Rome and a First Class Relic of St. Augustine on our mantel. We keep a candle lit before them at all times and it never ceases to amaze me on a daily basis that these relics will someday be radiantly glorious in eternity. What a gift and what a reminder to the faithful of the great gift that awaits all of us.


How very beautiful, Katherine.

Cici, we venerated St. John Vianney's Heart in a local parish not long ago, and the organizers wrote a concise explanation on the Catholic veneration of relics I thought you might like to read: The Catholic Heart: About Relics

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Posted: Dec 14 2006 at 12:08pm | IP Logged Quote AnaB

I too, don't understand this. Coming from a Catholic Cuban home where, at least in my home, there was so much superstition entwined with religion (reminds me of the Jews living in Canaan and mixing the worship of the surrounding areas with the worship of God), there is to me, very little difference. It makes me sad that all these other "people" get prayed to and get the glory more than Christ. I just don't see where He asked us to pray to anyone else.

I've been reading through the Old Testament alot about the role of the Jewish priest and God's prescribed order of worship in the OT and the NT. Then I read through the book of Hebrews to see how Jesus became not only the final sacrificial Lamb, but also our Priest who lives now to be our Intercessor before the Father. If God Himself became Man and died for me (no other "saint") died for me, and if HE lives to intercede for me, why would I need any other person in heaven to do that for me? From what I see in the Bible, God became man and was the only One qualified to be a sacrifice in our place because He was the only One who was "without blemish" as the Passover Lambs had to be. Otherwise somebody else could have died in our place. It had to be someone without blemish or sin. What would be the big deal about Christ being without sin, if there were other sinless people?

On earth, it is helpful to have friends interceeding for me because it is commanded that we come together to pray and bear each other's burdens (keeps me from my tendency to self-absorb) and Christ's presence is promised when 2 or 3 are gathered in His name.

I also noticed that in the Bible, the word saint is used for living Christians, not dead ones. Check every reference. Did I miss something?

So this does have me confused. I come from a Catholic background and these things were never explained to me. It was almost as if it was heretical to even ask these questions, but I want to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth and from reading the Bible--I just can't "see" it.

I have felt so welcomed here and I don't want to cause any trouble. I want to understand the reasoning behind why things are done in the Catholic faith. Does anybody else ever have these questions?   I thought this would be a good forum to ask my questions, but if it's not please let me know. I'm very grateful for these boards and the friendships I've made here. I'm just a person that needs to see something in writing, and for things pertaining to my faith, I refer to the Bible as my authority. I would like to understand these aspects of Catholic faith better.

Thanks for your patience and hope I don't detract from Cici's question. Thank you for the grace and encouragement you all have offered to me on these boards. I treasure your cyber friendships. I step aside so the tomatoes can be thrown! [:0] (I've never used a smiley picture before--hope I did it right!)

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Posted: Dec 14 2006 at 12:34pm | IP Logged Quote Helen

AnaB wrote:
I also noticed that in the Bible, the word saint is used for living Christians, not dead ones. Check every reference. Did I miss something?
...
So this does have me confused. I come from a Catholic background and these things were never explained to me. ... but I want to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth and from reading the Bible--I just can't "see" it.
....I refer to the Bible as my authority. I would like to understand these aspects of Catholic faith better.

Dear Ana,
I believe this is a question which involves many other questions, but I believe your question may be fundamentally a question of interpretation of the Bible.

Just as in math, understanding addition and subtraction allow us to calculate division. Understanding our Catholic Faith also needs several building blocks.

(Maybe this is the reason that so many Catholic religious orders and missionaries have contributed to the world of education. One can't always use quick catch phrases to explain the richness of our Faith.)

For the time being, may I point you in the direction of Dei Verbum? This document contains the Church's official and dogmatic teaching on Scripture and Tradition.

A few months ago, I began writing a blog post about this document, but never finished it. Maybe I'll try to work on it unless someone else would like to contribute to your question.

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Posted: Dec 14 2006 at 1:28pm | IP Logged Quote kjohnson

AnaB wrote:
I have felt so welcomed here and I don't want to cause any trouble. I want to understand the reasoning behind why things are done in the Catholic faith. Does anybody else ever have these questions?   I thought this would be a good forum to ask my questions, but if it's not please let me know. I'm very grateful for these boards and the friendships I've made here.


Ana, I have to say that I have a great deal of respect for you to be humble enough to ask these kinds of hard questions and put yourself out there. Your desire to understand these things is very admirable and our backgrounds can often confuse our understanding.

Regarding the Communion of Saints, you say you understand the benefit of having your earthly friends intercede for you. Think about it this way, does their earthly intercession on your behalf detract from the mediation and sacrifice of Jesus? Absolutely not. And neither does the intercession of the saints.

The Body of Christ is made up of 3 parts: the Church Militant here on earth, the Church Suffering in Purgatory and the Church Triumphant in Heaven. One part of the Body cannot ingnore the other parts any more than our hand can work independently from our brains. The saints in Heaven are no longer distracted by earthly cares. Their wills are perfectly united to God's. And it is God's Will that all men are saved and united with Him in eternity. What else would the saints do but constantly offer their prayers for us? (See the book of Revelation (6:9)for the offering of the prayers of the saints under the altar of heaven, which is a biblical reference that the saints in Heaven are not a stagnant bunch.)

Plus, the saints are better able to perfectly offer their prayers than we on earth who are not yet purified and do not yet live in perfect union with God. No Catholic teaching has ever taught that a saint died for the sins of man. But through the sacrament of Baptism we are mystically united and we work together by God's Will. Christ promised His presence when 2 or 3 are gathered, but no one can deny His very real presence in Heaven.

Regarding the Bible, you cannot interpret the Bible outside of the authority of the Church. The Church precedes the Bible and it wasn't until the 4th century that the Church recognized which books were canonical. So we have 400 years of Christians living without the Bible as we know it today. There are many things that all Christians take for granted that are not mentioned anywhere in the Bible. For instance, the word Trinity is found no where in the Old or New Testament. The doctrine of the Trinity was formulated most specifically at the Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople. Yet even those Christians who deny the authority of the Church and claim that the Bible is one's sole authority use the term Trinity.

As far as calling those who have died "saint" we do know from the very beginning that the tombs of the martyrs were venerated and these holy men and women were refered to as saints. We know this from the ancient document called The Shepherd of Hermas which was written in the 2nd century (which some Church Fathers considered to be a canonical text).

But I think it's important to keep in mind that the glory of the saints does not detract from the glory, purity of divine Nature of Jesus, but points to it. That is the difference between the Catholic and Protestant theology of salvation. The Catholic Church teaches that salvation is not a legal matter, but a process of purification and total redemption. We are not merely covered and passed off as something we are not. We are truly transformed and the saints serve as our human role models in living the life of Faith and an example of the grace and mercy of God...look what He is able to do with man if only we allow Him. And how can someone transformed by God's grace not be totally concerned with the love of neighbor. There is no selfishness in a saint and that is why they lovingly offer their prayers for us.

In saying that we don't need the saints because we have Jesus is really to deny part of the Mystical Body that He has given us through His life, death and Resurrection. Our salvation is not just about us, it's a family affair.

HTH, and you are most definitely not heretical in asking these valid questions.

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Posted: Dec 14 2006 at 1:46pm | IP Logged Quote aussieannie

AnaB wrote:
On earth, it is helpful to have friends interceeding for me because it is commanded that we come together to pray and bear each other's burdens (keeps me from my tendency to self-absorb) and Christ's presence is promised when 2 or 3 are gathered in His name.

I also noticed that in the Bible, the word saint is used for living Christians, not dead ones. Check every reference. Did I miss something?


AnaB I understand the need to ask questions to these things that puzzle you but let me say that I am no expert but I will share some of my understandings on these things.

St Luke wrote:
"Luke 20:34 (KJV) And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage:
Luke 20:35 But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage:
Luke 20:36 Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.
Luke 20:37 Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.
Luke 20:38 For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him."



I think that not always does Our Lord refer to the death of the body but that He is referring to the death of the soul, in the passage below Jesus talks how his saints passed on, (Abraham, Issac & Jacob cited as well know examples the people could relate to) that they are not dead but alive...in Him. It is very clear, we know they are dead - no doubts about it - but Jesus says they are alive and a part of the living (the mystical body of Christ.)

When we are asked not to commune with the dead, I believe the Bible refers to those who are dead in the soul - eternally lost. Our understanding of seeing pyschics, attending seances, etc. that it is the communicating with devils (dead souls) or damned souls (dead souls) who are masquerading as a loved one, it is something that is strictly forbidden we also know that those on earth who participate in it are seriously sinning (soul is dead) and that they have already (the pyschic) or could open themselves (the client) up to the devil in a very dangerous way. This is not to be confused with the asking of those who are 'more alive' in soul than we are for help in prayer the way we ask good people on earth to help or pray for us! These are God's saints and angels.

We understand as Catholics that the Church Triumphant (those in heaven) the Church Suffering (those in purgatory) and the Church Militant (those on earth who love God) are part of the mystical body of Christ that St Paul talks about. This mystical body of Christ needs to be alive and vibrant in the spiritual sense the same way we cannot live with a gangrenous part on our body in the physical sense for too long - it is all alive as Jesus said above. As a body we rely and help each other and that extends to the other live members who have gone before us who are now either a more vibrant and healthy part of the mystical body of Christ or to the parts that are suffering (souls in purgartory) who need our help that we are in a position to assist. The bible says that "the prayers of a righteous man is effective" and as Catholics we believe the saints and angels are the best example of this.

I believe that Jesus Himself showed that there was a correct way to talk, pray to, those who have passed on that are part of the mystical body of Christ otherwise I do not believe that the Transfiguration (Matt. 17:3) would not have taken place - Jesus would not have violated His own commandments. Praying to the saints and conjuring the dead are as different as day and night.

Hope this can clarify things a little.





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Posted: Dec 14 2006 at 2:08pm | IP Logged Quote aussieannie

AnaB wrote:
I've been reading through the Old Testament alot about the role of the Jewish priest and God's prescribed order of worship in the OT and the NT. Then I read through the book of Hebrews to see how Jesus became not only the final sacrificial Lamb, but also our Priest who lives now to be our Intercessor before the Father. If God Himself became Man and died for me (no other "saint") died for me, and if HE lives to intercede for me, why would I need any other person in heaven to do that for me? From what I see in the Bible, God became man and was the only One qualified to be a sacrifice in our place because He was the only One who was "without blemish" as the Passover Lambs had to be. Otherwise somebody else could have died in our place. It had to be someone without blemish or sin. What would be the big deal about Christ being without sin, if there were other sinless people?


I think that you maybe asking about the unique mediatorship of Jesus between God the Father and man and does the intercession of saints effect that?

Here is the Bible quote you may be thinking about...
Timothy wrote:

"For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 2:5).


Here is a passage from Catholic Answers that talks about this question:

Catholic Answers wrote:

But asking one person to pray for you in no way violates Christ’s mediatorship, as can be seen from considering the way in which Christ is a mediator. First, Christ is a unique mediator between man and God because he is the only person who is both God and man. He is the only bridge between the two, the only God-man. But that role as mediator is not compromised in the least by the fact that others intercede for us. Furthermore, Christ is a unique mediator between God and man because he is the Mediator of the New Covenant (Heb. 9:15, 12:24), just as Moses was the mediator (Greek mesitas) of the Old Covenant (Gal. 3:19–20).

The intercession of fellow Christians—which is what the saints in heaven are—also clearly does not interfere with Christ’s unique mediatorship because in the four verses immediately preceding 1 Timothy 2:5, Paul says that Christians should interceed: "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and pleasing to God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:1–4). Clearly, then, intercessory prayers offered by Christians on behalf of others is something "good and pleasing to God," not something infringing on Christ’s role as mediator.


I would probably add that it is linked to your first question about the difference of a friend praying for you verses a saint praying for you. Jesus mediatorship is not violated in the way a friend on earth praying for me, interceeding for me, does not violate it - as Catholics see no difference between the intercession of those on earth and those in heaven and both do not obstruct the one mediator - we offer our prayers through our friends and the saints and angels, they pray to Jesus for us and those prayers are raised to the Heavenly Father through the merits of Jesus' death on the cross who restored our relationship and friendship with God.

Thank you for your questions, it helps me too - you get to think deeply about your own faith and why I believe what I believe.



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Posted: Dec 14 2006 at 2:26pm | IP Logged Quote JennGM

I don't have a huge amount of time, and everyone has answered so well, but I just wanted to mention.

Going back to Cici's original question, and Ana's about seemingly superstitious or strange practices with the saints. There is a lot of superstitions floating out there. And one big mistake is thinking that our praying to certain saints or devotions is like a gumball machine: I enter the right amount of prayers and devotions, and out comes my answer just the way I want it. It doesn't work that way.

The Communion of Saints is part of our Faith, and yet some is a mystery. Over the years the Church has seen overzealousness for devotions that sometimes did hide or deter devotion to Christ. I recommend highly taking the time to read Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, in particular the Veneration of the Saints.

I found the introduction in this document extreme enlightening, in showing the ebb and flow of devotions, how the Church had to pull in the reins several times. It also explains how to sift through yourself, being able to recognize if it doesn't point towards the Church and Liturgy of the Mass, it's not a good devotion.

About the saints having special patronages (Elizabeth of Hungary for bakers, Lucy for eyesight, Nicholas for children, Agatha for breast problems), this is merely from viewing their lives and what obstacles or miracles happened during their life that helped them become saints. Part of Lucy's martyrdom the Romans removed her eyes, and they were restored miraculously; St. Agatha's martyrdom her breasts were cut off and they are now incorrupt.

It doesn't mean that there are specialty offices in heaven. All those in heaven are saints and they are united in giving glory to God. The Church just sees that we are human and need the human connection. Some saints have special patronages assigned by the Church, others have patronages just from popularity over time.

Do I have to ask St. Elizabeth when I'm baking bread to help it rise? No. Should I? Not necessarily...the ideal is learning about St. Elizabeth's life, asking her to help you become a saint, and it's her life and example that should unite you to Christ. She's just a helper on the journey, giving example and interceding to God for grace.

But along life's journey sometimes we need some extra help from our friends on earth, and in heaven...so crying over the failed rising of our bread dough, I can just cry on her "shoulders" and for a little kitchen help. We can meditate on bread in Christ's life, how Elizabeth did her Corporal Works of Mercy providing bread to the poor and ask her for a little help the next time aroung.

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Posted: Dec 14 2006 at 2:27pm | IP Logged Quote cathhomeschool

AnaB wrote:
I too, don't understand this. Coming from a Catholic Cuban home where, at least in my home, there was so much superstition entwined with religion (reminds me of the Jews living in Canaan and mixing the worship of the surrounding areas with the worship of God), there is to me, very little difference. It makes me sad that all these other "people" get prayed to and get the glory more than Christ.


Ana, the other ladies here are doing a much better job than I could addressing your questions, so I'm going to leave that in their able hands! I want to comment on your background. I am a Catholic Cuban too, but did not grow up with any superstition at all. However, many Cubans practice Santeria, which is a mix of Catholicism and superstition. I was never exposed to this growing up, but in Miami, where my parents currently live, there are many, many Santeros. Some incorporate more superstition than others. Some are so superstitious that I can see no Catholicism remaining at all (and those don't call themselves Catholic either).

When I lived in Dallas, I met an elderly lady (Hispanic but not Cuban) at our parish. She went to daily Mass, prayed the rosary, and was very reverent and respectful of the Eucharist. She gave me a booklet with "recipes" for attaining favors from saints. They all involved prayers and devotions, but spoke as if the saint was "required" to grant your request if you followed the recipe. This is one example of Santeria. Such a situation sends a very mixed (and inaccurate) message, and I can easily see how saints are giving equal footing with God when superstition is involved.

We are personally very devoted to Padre Pio. Through his intercession, several health related miracles have been worked in my father's life. I think of Padre Pio as a good friend in heaven. Because he is a good friend, he prays for us. So we ask for his prayers, always acknowledging that it is God alone who answers prayers. It pleases God to work through men -- both those still on earth and those with Him in heaven, but saints are not magicians and cannot grant favors of their own power. When a prayer is answered, I thank God first for His answer, then I thank the saint for his prayers. (I guess I put my two small cents in after all!    ) I hope it helped and didn't offend in any way!

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Posted: Dec 14 2006 at 2:58pm | IP Logged Quote aussieannie

AnaB wrote:
It makes me sad that all these other "people" get prayed to and get the glory more than Christ.


I know it can seem that way ...but when it is looked at again in the full context of our Catholic theology it goes a bit like this....

Remember the whole argument about are we saved by faith or are we saved by good works? Well it was never a correct picture of what we believe or what they believed....WE ARE SAVED BY GOD'S GRACE ALONE....when we do good works we can do them only through the grace God has freely given us. Yes, we must do good works because Jesus commanded it, good works is also proof of the sincerity of our faith but they are all acheived through the free gift of grace. We can't even think, "I'll do a good deed today" without first been given a freely given gift of grace to think it! Our gift of faith is a free gift of grace as well, which I am sure other denominations acknowledge, we didn't come to the realization that Jesus is God through our own merits or thoughts, it was a grace. This ultimate acknowlegement of this truth is so liberating from pride taking hold, or having a false understanding of our salvation.

When you understand that we can do nothing without it, when we show glory to a saint, we are in fact glorifying God more! It is a beautiful way (one of many) of showing more glory to God because we know that saint could not have shown a single ounce of goodness without that free gift of grace.

I am a pastel portrait artist and I am glorified when someone will take my work and pay alot of money to frame it professionally, that will then compliment it beautifully. Then they don't choose the basment to display it, they choose pride of place in the lounge! When people look at it and say, "Oh, how lovely, look at it's fine and delicate brushwork." I don't feel like saying, "Hey, what about me?" because the admiring of the artwork is ultimately admiring my abilities (God given of course, so the glory goes to Him! )   

Now that is an inanimate object but lets look at our children - look at our pride in them how their goodness reflects back quite often to us if we have been good parents and that good parenting has obviously played a big part in their achievements, we share in their glory and we are only humans too - there is always an acknowledgement of someone else or something above us in society, it is good grace and a natural thing to do, so much so, that we are often replused when people do not. I think I can vaguely remember a Hollywood actress years ago, receiving her ocsar and crediting everything to herself, it was sickening to hear and I think she was heavily into New Age affirmation - 'I am God' thinking.

The same with the saints and angels and those that we admire and praise on earth who are of good will - our praise of them is only glorifing God more and more. If someone walked into my friend's lounge and looked up at the picture and walked on by, not missing a stride, I would be disappointed.. naturally.    So it is with God, when we admire and praise any of His creation, as long as we don't overstep the mark and worship the creation, we have continued to lift God higher and higher!! (pagan earth worship would be one example of praising the creation and raising it above the creator.)

Ok...three long postings is enough! So sorry ...I think I'd better see what housework I'm behind in! ......


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Posted: Dec 14 2006 at 4:21pm | IP Logged Quote AnaB


Remember the whole argument about are we saved by faith or are we saved by good works? Well it was never a correct picture of what we believe or what they believed....WE ARE SAVED BY GOD'S GRACE ALONE....when we do good works we can do them only through the grace God has freely given us. Yes, we must do good works because Jesus commanded it, good works is also proof of the sincerity of our faith but they are all acheived through the free gift of grace. We can't even think, "I'll do a good deed today" without first been given a freely given gift of grace to think it! Our gift of faith is a free gift of grace as well, which I am sure other denominations acknowledge, we didn't come to the realization that Jesus is God through our own merits or thoughts, it was a grace. This ultimate acknowlegement of this truth is so liberating from pride taking hold, or having a false understanding of our salvation.   


Amen!!!

Thank you so much for ALL the time many of you have taken. To better explain my background, my father went to La Salle in Cuba and in Miami (a Jesuit school) and was one of the founders of the Catholic campus ministry at UofM. Though he was incredibly devoted to the church, (yet was a very angry and at times abusive person), most of my family members only went to church on special occasions. They did alot in the name of God that wasn't good. There was superstition, some santeria tendencies, and religion all mixed in. They were not "versed" enough to answer even the simplest questions about the Bible. But God forbid should anyone call them anything but a Catholic. It was cultural more than anything.

So, I kinda threw all that out the window and would just read my Bible. My parents started attending a Protestant church. My dad read the Bible for himself for the first time. Back then, only the priest was allowed to read the Bible in the Catholic church that he attended down here, and that was in Latin. After 3 months of devouring that Bible from cover to cover, both of my parents were "saved". The transformation in the lives of my parents was really incredible. It made me also cherish my Bible and seek to become a student of It.

The Lord saved me at around 12 years old not only eternally but even physically. I had attempted suicide at that young age. I was so tired of the hypocrisy and of the manipulation of other people in the name of God. So, I stuck to my reading my Bible, journaling, going to church, and clinging to Christ. At times He was my only friend. Oh, so many things have happened to me that have shown me that I'm here today and able to conceive and bear children solely by the grace of God.

For me, I see that the Bible and preaching and the aid of the Holy Spirit and the fellowship of believers is all we need to live the Christian life. This is because I'm basing my perspective or source of truth on the Bible only, not that the writings of other great Godly people of ages past are not valuable and helpful (I especially love many of Augustine's writings), but I don't see them on the same standing as the Bible. I guess that's what's causing the trouble in my understanding. We're approaching a topic from two different places. But now I better understand your place. Thank you for not throwing tomatoes. I realize that this is a Catholic message board and I come here with that in mind and with that appreciation. I have never known Catholics like many of you are. It has been a blessing to get to know you. I do think God has His sheep in many different places and many of you have touched me and inspired me with your love for the LORD.

You all have given me much to think about. I thank you for dealing with me in such a gentle, loving, and eloquent way. I will keep these matters in prayer.



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Posted: Dec 14 2006 at 5:20pm | IP Logged Quote aussieannie

AnaB wrote:
Thank you so much for ALL the time many of you have taken. To better explain my background, my father went to La Salle in Cuba and in Miami (a Jesuit school) and was one of the founders of the Catholic campus ministry at UofM. Though he was incredibly devoted to the church, (yet was a very angry and at times abusive person), most of my family members only went to church on special occasions. They did alot in the name of God that wasn't good. There was superstition, some santeria tendencies, and religion all mixed in. They were not "versed" enough to answer even the simplest questions about the Bible. But God forbid should anyone call them anything but a Catholic. It was cultural more than anything.

So, I kinda threw all that out the window and would just read my Bible. My parents started attending a Protestant church. My dad read the Bible for himself for the first time. Back then, only the priest was allowed to read the Bible in the Catholic church that he attended down here, and that was in Latin. After 3 months of devouring that Bible from cover to cover, both of my parents were "saved". The transformation in the lives of my parents was really incredible. It made me also cherish my Bible and seek to become a student of It.

The Lord saved me at around 12 years old not only eternally but even physically. I had attempted suicide at that young age. I was so tired of the hypocrisy and of the manipulation of other people in the name of God. So, I stuck to my reading my Bible, journaling, going to church, and clinging to Christ. At times He was my only friend. Oh, so many things have happened to me that have shown me that I'm here today and able to conceive and bear children solely by the grace of God.


Oh AnaB you have been through so much! - and sadly too, you have been greatly scandalized. I am so sorry to hear what you have been through, except to say that the hand of God has gently guided you through it all. (From great evil, can come great good!)

I hope and pray that this place can be a source of healing from the past and that the beauty and true knowledge of the Catholic Church, that shines through the these women and their writings, that I am often in awe of, will be a beacon for you too in the future.

Also I am sure you have a lot to share with us that will enrich our lives as well!



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Posted: Dec 14 2006 at 7:24pm | IP Logged Quote alicegunther

AnaB wrote:
I too, don't understand this. Coming from a Catholic Cuban home where, at least in my home, there was so much superstition entwined with religion (reminds me of the Jews living in Canaan and mixing the worship of the surrounding areas with the worship of God), there is to me, very little difference. It makes me sad that all these other "people" get prayed to and get the glory more than Christ. I just don't see where He asked us to pray to anyone else.


Ana, I have very little to add to the many responses here, but I think, if I wanted to understand more about Catholic devotion to saints as intercessors, I might start as a little child.

When I was a young girl, the stories of saints captured my imagination. I read and re-read every book I could find on the lives of the saints, filling my mind with the stories of these inspiring heroes of the faith. St. Agnes, St. Agatha, St. Cecilia and so many others became a part of my heart, and I felt so inspired trying to be like them--trying in some small way to imitate their goodness, rarely succeeding, but always remembering their stories and sacrifices and trying again.

From this budding knowledge of the saints, it was not a far stretch to look upon them as friends in heaven, thinking about them in times of trouble and asking them to intercede for me in little needs. Knowing from their lives how much they loved Jesus, it seemed only natural that they would help me to be closer to Him, never leading me away from the Source of Goodness and Truth.

So, I guess what I would say is that you might want to start small.   As you are praying to Our dear Lord, tell Him you wish to know His friends and ask for the gift of finding them. Read an accessible autobiography, such as The Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux, or perhaps delve into the Love Letters of St. Gianna Molla.

Little by little, as you get to know these men and women through their lives and words, you may begin to understand devotion to the saints and the reason we ask for their help in times of need. You might even find yourself beginning a special friendship with one of them.

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Posted: Dec 14 2006 at 11:22pm | IP Logged Quote Helen

AnaB wrote:

For me, I see that the Bible and preaching and the aid of the Holy Spirit and the fellowship of believers is all we need to live the Christian life. This is because I'm basing my perspective or source of truth on the Bible only, not that the writings of other great Godly people of ages past are not valuable and helpful (I especially love many of Augustine's writings), but I don't see them on the same standing as the Bible. I guess that's what's causing the trouble in my understanding. We're approaching a topic from two different places.


Many of these questions and answers would probably do better if we were able to sit down together and have a little chat. I’ll try to do that here, although it just isn’t as easy. I think more research is needed to really understand all of this and I truly hope that I am not giving you too much to think about.

The Church teaches that there is one source of Revelation – God.

In other words, God is the speaker. God tells His secrets. God reveals.
I think every one agrees here.

God has to speak to us so that we may know that salvation is from His Son.
Everyone agrees.

How does He do this?

He has two ways in which He speaks to us.

Tradition (with a capital T)
And
Scripture.

God uses two channels (not only one) to tell us about His secrets. This is the Catholic teaching.(I am paraphrasing Dei Verbum – the dogmatic constitution on Revelation.)

Scripture is much simpler to put your finger on than this concept of Sacred Tradition. But Sacred Tradition is essential to hearing the full message, everything that God wants to say(Reveal).

Here are two quotes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

This living transmission, accomplished in the Holy Spirit, is called Tradition, since it is distinct from Sacred Scripture, though closely connected to it. Through Tradition, "the Church, in her doctrine, life and worship, perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes." #78

"The sayings of the holy Fathers are a witness to the life-giving presence of this Tradition, showing how its riches are poured out in the practice and life of the Church, in her belief and her prayer."

http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/para/78.htm

and

The Tradition here in question comes from the apostles and hands on what they received from Jesus' teaching and example and what they learned from the Holy Spirit. The first generation of Christians did not yet have a written New Testament, and the New Testament itself demonstrates the process of living Tradition.
Tradition is to be distinguished from the various theological, disciplinary, liturgical or devotional traditions, born in the local churches over time. These are the particular forms, adapted to different places and times, in which the great Tradition is expressed. In the light of Tradition, these traditions can be retained, modified or even abandoned under the guidance of the Church's Magisterium." #83


http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/para/83.htm

Another way to begin thinking about Sacred Tradition is to remember the phrase from The Bible:
“If everything which Jesus said and did were written down, the whole world could not contain the books.”

So what happened to all that Jesus said and did?
It is preserved in the sacred repository of Church Tradition.

Here are several problems that I see if one forgets about Sacred Tradition.

First let’s return to the Scripture for a moment. Over and over again the very 12 the Lord had chosen, who witnessed first hand the miracles, saw Him face to face, failed to understand the Lord’s words. For example

“They returned to Capernaum and Jesus, once inside the house began to ask them, ‘What were you discussing on the way home?’ At this they fell silent, for on the way they had been arguing about who was the most important.”

In other words, Our Lord said, “I even know your conversations on the road and how you argued among yourselves."
Then He says, “O.K. boys, let’s go over this again from scratch.”

“Then he called the twelve and told them again.” (Mark 9:33?)

Problem One:
The failure of those who heard the Word of God to understand it correctly.

Second Problem
Does personal sanctification and holiness rely totally on book learning? Can we come to know and love God if we don’t know how to read? If God only speaks to us through the written word (like the non scriptural phrase – sola scriptura) then wouldn’t God have provide infused knowledge in order to read? The Bible wasn’t originally written in English. To fully understand the meaning of the words in the bible, wouldn’t we all have to have a knowledge of ancient Biblical Greek in order to read the Bible in its original language. Any scholar knows, you don’t rely on someone else’s translation. You read the original.

I think St. Paul would have mentioned that every one can thank God for the great gift of intellect in which all of human creation is endowed. Thank God for the infused knowledge we all possess in order to interpret the Bible. He doesn’t do this because it is obvious that not every human being is endowed with remarkable intelligence. But, God did give us a Church, a Mother, to interpret the legacy of Christ, the Tradition He left for us, so that we would not be left orphans and not become proud.

3rd Problem: Where does the Bible come from in the first place?
In fact it is Sacred Tradition which gives us Scripture. How did the Bible evolve into the set of Books that it is? Well, the Church gave it to us. In the early churches books that modern Christians do not consider biblical were read in the Churches.

If I remember correctly, in the first and second centuries, in the important Alexandrian school many thought there were 22 books in the New Testament. But the biblical scholar Origen said there were 33. The Church has said definitively there are 27. (I should get out my old book on the Formation of the New Testament Canon and check my numbers but it is getting late. It was a very engaging book I read many moons ago by Farmer and Farkasfalvy.) (Please feel free to correct me.)

Information on Origen
A chart showing the development of the NT Canon

WE have the church to thank for the Bible, She preserved it and taught it and it is the Church who interprets the meaning of Scripture for us. Does this mean Catholics shouldn’t read the Bible and they should just read from Church documents? Not at all. But, when forming our consciences we need to turn to the Church for guidance and allow her to inform our conscience.

For more information on this topic, please try reading Dei Verbum. It isn’t long and I think it is pretty easy to understand.
Dei Verbum

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Posted: Dec 15 2006 at 9:56am | IP Logged Quote JennGM

alicegunther wrote:
Ana, I have very little to add to the many responses here, but I think, if I wanted to understand more about Catholic devotion to saints as intercessors, I might start as a little child.


This is so beautiful, Alice. I was trying to figure out how to write about it being a "little" approach and couldn't come up wit the words, so didn't pursue it...and here you do it so eloquently!

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