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FAQ on Saints

A Saint is someone who has died that the Catholic Church declares is now in heaven. This is what we might call a Saint with a capital “S”. Those of us in the grace of God here on earth might be called saints with a small “s”. This is because the word “saint” can be used in different ways. St. Paul frequently refers to those he writes his letters to as “saints”. This is merely someone who lives in the grace of God.

With that being said, the Catholic Church holds up, as examples of holy lives, certain men and women as Saints. Can they hear us? How do they become Saints? Why do we pray for them? All this and more found below.

This is all very relevant, because this Sunday the Church will declare John XXIII and John Paul II as Saints!

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Why Pray To Saints? Can They Hear Us?

I would like to first point out that the Saints are not God. So, Catholics do not worship or adore the Saints. We worship God alone. To pray to a Saint is to ask them to intercede on our behalf, just as we would a friend on earth. 

The book of James says this:
The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.” – James 5:16

Now, who is more righteous than those perfected in heaven? Thus, we ask the Saints to pray for us, because the Bible tells us they have powerful prayers.

There are several reasons that Catholics believe that the Saints in heaven can hear our requests for their intercession. First, let us start with the Biblical evidence.

“And concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, `I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” --Matthew 22:31-32

—-Note that Jesus is telling us that those in heaven are alive. But, they now have a new and higher way of living. They have been glorified in Christ once they enter into heaven. In fact, it could be said that they are much more alive than those of us still on earth.

“And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” Matthew 17:3-5

—-Here, during the Transfiguration, Jesus talks to Moses and Elijah, who are very aware of what has been happening on earth. So, from this we can come to the conclusion that death does not separate those in heaven from those on earth.

Remember Paul teaches that we are all members of Christ’s body, the Church.
The Book of Hebrews echoes this when it teaches that those who have gone before us into heaven still witness what happens on earth.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us” Hebrews 12:1

What I believe is the most amazing evidence from the Bible of the Saints in heaven hearing our prayers is from the book of Revelation.

“When he took it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each of the elders held a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the holy ones.” –Revelations 5:8

—-We see that the elders and four living creatures (who represent the Saints and Angels in heaven) are offering the prayers of those on earth before Jesus. I don’t think it could get much clearer. In Revelation 8 there is another incident of heavenly intercession.

“Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a gold censer. He was given a great quantity of incense to offer, along with the prayers of all the holy ones, on the gold altar that was before the throne. The smoke of the incense along with the prayers of the holy ones went up before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with burning coals from the altar, and hurled it down to the earth. There were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.” –Revelation 8:3-5

Lastly, we have evidence from Christ himself.

“I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance. “Or what woman having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it? And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, `Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’ In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:7-10

—-Those in heaven could not rejoice over a sinner repenting on earth unless they knew about it.

One more reference of Christ talking about this subject is found in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16. Those who have suffered bodily death, still are asking for help for those on earth (intercession) with knowledge of what is happening.

Getting to the question outside the Biblical evidence, we can support the fact that those in heaven can hear our prayers because it fits with what we know about God and human beings. Just as no person can achieve heaven on their own power, so a Saint in heaven cannot hear prayers of those on earth from their own power. But, being glorified in Christ they now are partakers of the divine nature. This means they participate in the grace of God to a greater degree than we can even imagine. While God is the only one who by nature is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent – the Saints in heaven can in some way share in these traits. The number of prayers offered is finite, so to be able to “hear” all prayers wouldn’t take the gift of omniscience, but rather just raising our nature to a higher level.

We must also remember that the heavenly existence is no longer bound by time. There is no time but eternity in heaven. Therefore, we must not try and answer a question of this nature by using our own limited understanding of how things work in this life.

Based on the overwhelming evidence from Scripture, the constant Tradition of the Church as well as the fact that it is theologically acceptable, we can be assured that the Saints in heaven can hear our prayers and are praying for us.

This is why we pray to Saints.

The Church also know we need examples of holy men and women to look up to and to try to imitate. This is why we declare some of them Saints.

John XXIII and John Paul II pray for us!

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What is the Process for Declaring Someone a Saint?

This video answers that question:

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Other links of interest:

Easter Vigil 2014

The most glorious of all the Church’s liturgies has to be the Easter Vigil Mass. The symbolism is magnificent and the power of the Holy Spirit is palpable. Here are a few picks from this year’s Mass:Fr. David Konderla lights the Easter fire.The Easter …

The Resurrection – A BIG Deal

The Easter Season has just begun and our celebration of Jesus’ Resurrection lasts 50 days, because we celebrate more than we prepared (40 days of Lent). The Resurrection is the most important of all events for us. As St. Paul says,”If Christ has not be…

Easter Reflection

April 20, 2014
EASTER SUNDAY

Acts 10:34A, 37-43 * Colossians 3:1-4 or 1 Corinthians 5:6B-8 * John 20:1-9

What is real? Daisies, chocolate, lions, and beaches. As is the man Jesus, who walked and wept, cooked, and healed. He is real.

Last January, I arose at four in the morning and made my way, silent and alone, like Mary Magdalene, to the very same place she went that Easter morning. It was early, still dark and the streets of Jerusalem were deserted. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is hard to find unless you are looking for it, hidden as it is in a small side street lined with Muslim street vendors selling Christian religious articles. As I walked into the church, I found Calvary on my right, just up a flight of stairs. The distance between the Cross and the Resurrection is barely a hundred yards.

I was blessed to be able to be one of four people at a Mass celebrated in Italian by a Polish priest inside the most of holy of tombs; the altar being a piece of marble placed over where Jesus was laid for three days. The one overwhelming conviction in my heart during the entire Mass: He is real, the Resurrection is real. In that sacred place, it is impossible to believe otherwise. And since he is real, that changes everything.

  • Looking back on my life up until now, are there times where I can see that God has tried to penetrate my heart, or have I given him permission to enter?
  • Reflect on the fact that Christ IS real. In what ways have I “proclaimed” this message to those around me today?

Sister Debbie Li
Sister Debbie Li is an Apostle of the Interior Life Sister and campus minister at St. Mary’s Catholic Center.

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St. Mary’s Catholic Center will post a daily reflection from a student, former student, or staff member every day of Lent. We have compiled these reflections into a handout, given to our students on Ash Wednesday.

Alleluia! He is Risen!

Happy Easter!!!


“On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we don’t know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture
that he had to rise from the dead.”
John 20:1-9

Holy Saturday / Easter Vigil Reflection

April 19, 2014
HOLY SATURDAY EASTER VIGIL

Matthew 28:1-10

“Do not be afraid.” These are the angel’s words to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary as he greets them at the tomb of Christ. Did you catch what happened just prior to this greeting? “There was a great earthquake” as the angel descended, his appearance was “like lightening,” and “the guards were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men.” And of course, the Lord is missing from the tomb. Do not be afraid? Those circumstances certainly seem to warrant fear.

“Do not be afraid.” These are also the Lord’s words to the women just moments later as he greets them along the road. Important enough words that Christ comes to speak them directly. Not empty words, but words rooted in a deep truth—rooted in the Truth. They proclaim the victory over sin and death that we have in Christ. He has risen. He has won. We need not be afraid.

Sometimes our circumstances seem to warrant fear. It can well up within us in the face of uncertainty, illness, danger, or hurt. Like an earthquake, fear shakes us up and disorients us. But the Lord meets each one of us on the way and speaks truth. He says to us, “Do not be afraid.”

  • What circumstances in your own life seem to stir up fear? Take some time today to bring your concerns before the Lord.
  • Hear him speak to you, “Do not be afraid.” How can you receive these words this Easter season? Let the truth of Christ’s victory sink in. We need not be afraid.

Sarah Hayes
Sarah Hayes is a campus ministry at St. Mary’s Catholic Center.

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St. Mary’s Catholic Center will post a daily reflection from a student, former student, or staff member every day of Lent. We have compiled these reflections into a handout, given to our students on Ash Wednesday.

Good Friday Reflection

April 18, 2014
GOOD FRIDAY

Isaiah 52:13-53:12 * Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9 * John 18:1-19:42

As a college student, leaving all that was familiar had a way of not fitting into my plans. On Good Friday, I recall the moment of my calling. After months of trying not to hear God’s relentless voice, I could take it no longer. Kneeling in a Eucharistic chapel, I pleaded aloud: “Lord, what do you want me to do?”

Desperate for an answer, I opened my prayer book and flipped it open to a page at random. Time for some vocation roulette! “Why don’t you give yourself to God once and for all… really… now!” Oops! I fumbled frantically for a second opinion. “‘Go, preach the Gospel. I will be with you.’ Jesus has said this, and he has said it to you.” Houston, I thought, we have a problem. On to random page number three: “If you see your way clearly, follow it. Why don’t you shake off the cowardice that holds you back?” Strike three and you’re out!

I looked immediately at the crucifix, just like we each look at the cross this Good Friday. I remember hoping against hope that I could find just one muscle on Christ’s body that was not tense in pain out of love for me. If I could just find one, I naively thought, then I would not have to give everything. For it felt like what God was asking of me was pretty much everything.

At that moment, I recall being ashamed to look at the cross.

Raised anew by his strength alone, this Good Friday, “Let us run by patience to the fight proposed to us: looking on Jesus, the author and finisher of faith, who having joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame.” -Hebrews 12:1-2

Father Michael Sullivan, LC
Fr Michael Sullivan is the Legion’s vocation director, chaplain of Pope John XXIII High School, and a Fightin’ Texas Aggie Wannabe.

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St. Mary’s Catholic Center will post a daily reflection from a student, former student, or staff member every day of Lent. We have compiled these reflections into a handout, given to our students on Ash Wednesday.

Holy Thursday Reflection

April 17, 2014
HOLY THURSDAY

Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14 * 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 * John 13:1-15

The majestic opening words of the Gospel for the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper have always been awe-inspiring to me: “Jesus knew that his hour had come….” He was “fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God.”

Jesus’ power as the Eternal Word is set side-by-side with the humility of his actions on this evening: precisely because he was aware that he was returning to God, “he rose from supper and took off his outer garments…. Then he… began to wash the disciples’ feet.”

The message is clear: this is who our God is. His power and majesty are revealed in his ability to set both aside and perform the task of a slave. Jesus reveals to us the true nature of love: “He loved his own in the world, and he loved them to the end.” All of them, by the way: Judas was still there, and Jesus knows that he will betray him.

  • Jesus continues to show us this love as he gives himself to us in the Eucharist, and he commands us to imitate him. Can I allow him to teach it to me?

Father Jonathan Raia
Father Jonathan began as associate pastor of St. Mary’s in July 2013. He was ordained a priest in 2009.

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St. Mary’s Catholic Center will post a daily reflection from a student, former student, or staff member every day of Lent. We have compiled these reflections into a handout, given to our students on Ash Wednesday.

Lenten Reflection for Wednesday of Holy Week

April 16, 2014
WEDNESDAY OF HOLY WEEK

Isaiah 50:4-9A * Matthew 26:14-25

Jesus faces the betrayal of a friend, which sends him into the hands of his enemies. When Judas offers to betray Christ, he asks the chief priests, “What will you give me?” It is often easy to focus on what others can give to us, and lose sight of their inherent value. This type of selfishness objectifies others and places their worth in what they can do for us.

Judas sold Christ for thirty pieces of silver. Christ became nothing more than an object traded for money to Judas. When we approach Christ with an attitude of demanding something for ourselves, we will turn away from him as soon as following him becomes difficult. We will be easily swayed by offers of affection, comfort, or financial gain, as Judas was. Christ has already given himself to us through his incarnation, suffering and death on the cross, and in the Eucharist. He should be approached not with demands, but with gratitude and love.

  • Have I betrayed Christ in any way? What was I seeking instead of Christ?
  • Do I approach Jesus with a thankful heart? How has Jesus given himself to me?

Annette Denton
Class of 2014
Master of Public Service and Administration

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St. Mary’s Catholic Center will post a daily reflection from a student, former student, or staff member every day of Lent. We have compiled these reflections into a handout, given to our students on Ash Wednesday.

Lenten Reflection for Tuesday, April 15

April 15, 2014
TUESDAY OF HOLY WEEK

Isaiah 49:1-6 * John 13:21-33, 36-38

“Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”

As we continue through Holy Week, we get this scene of the Last Supper, and we hear these heavy words from Jesus. The disciples are confused by Jesus’ statement, and they simply look at each other, wondering about whom Jesus is referring to; surely none of them will turn against him. In reading this Gospel, my mind kept going to the passage in Genesis when the Lord asks Cain where his brother is, to which he replies, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Surely we are each other’s keepers. As members of the Mystical Body of Christ, we rely on one another to continue growing in faith, especially in our darkest moments. You never know where you will find the doubtful or the weak.

We need to always be alert and see how the devil is not only trying to tempt us, but also trying to tempt our brothers and sisters. Even those with the strongest of faith experience doubts. Simon Peter ends up denying Jesus three times, as it is foreshadowed at the end of the reading.

Amidst all the darkness, Jesus fills us with hope by saying that we “will follow later.” This is the promise that we will be reunited with him in his glory. So let us await his glorious resurrection.

  • What are some ways Satan might be trying to tempt you?
  • What is keeping you from truly giving your heart to God?
  • What is holding you back to following Christ?

Anonymous

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St. Mary’s Catholic Center will post a daily reflection from a student, former student, or staff member every day of Lent. We have compiled these reflections into a handout, given to our students on Ash Wednesday.

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