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!
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.
“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.
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!
This video answers that question:
Other links of interest:
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