A common Evangelical protest against the Catholic practice of praying and interacting with the saints is that they “can’t hear us.” Those who disbelieve our practice often quote 1 Kings 8:39 which says, for you alone (O Lord) know the hearts of all men. Hence, according to this quote Saints, who are not God, cannot know our thoughts unless we speak them aloud.

This means, we must therefore speak them aloud. And this in turn ridiculed, or at least dismissed, by many Evangelicals who consider it absurd to think a saint way up in heaven would have adequate hearing to perceive us, way down here on earth talking to them. Further, even if they could hear us, how could they distinguish thousands or millions of people talking to them all at once? And so on, with these sorts of objections. To be fair, not every Evangelical shares all these objections nor do they always attempt to ridicule our practice. But objections and attitudes like this  are common enough to merit response.

The straight answer to the objections that saints cannot know our prayers due to lack of hearing, or inability to mind read, is set aside by Scripture itself which does speak of them as interacting with our prayers. More of this in a moment.

But some attention should also be paid to the highly naturalistic notions held by our critics, of the saints in heaven. To simply presume they “hear” in same way we do here on earth, or that their minds are operative in same way that ours are, or that they even experience time in the same serial way we do, are all highly questionable premises.

To begin with, the saints, through their more perfect union with Christ, ought not be presumed to experience their human faculties in exactly the same way as here on earth. Obviously their bodies have not yet risen, and hence they do not “hear” in the same manner as we do who still have bodies. Neither are their minds mediated through the physical brain as our is. Even when the trumpet shall sound and the bodies of the saints be restored to them, we need to understand that their humanity, body and soul, will be a glorified humanity. While we do not know all the aspects of a glorified humanity we will surely not have the forgetful and slow minds we have now. Neither ought we presume that our hearing will be limited as it is now.

So, to be clear, we ought not merely presume that the saints in heaven, even now, experience all the limits we do. They are caught up in Christ, and bound to Him more intimately and perfectly.

Secondly, the saints do not likely experience time like we do. Heaven is called, among other things in Scripture “eternity” or “eternal life.” Now eternity does not refer merely to the length of time or life, but also to the fulness of it. The fulness of time includes past, present and future, as one thing, in one moment. While we cannot be sure if the saints experience the “comprehensive now” as God does, we ought not presume that they experience time merely as we do either. Heaven is quite surely outside our earthly experience of time.

Hence, our understanding of heaven ought to include a mystical dimension and it is wrong to simply project our currently broken and fallen human condition on to the Saints in heaven or to presume them inside time exactly as we are.

Jesus rebukes the minimalists of his day – Regarding this tendency to make heavenly realities look either silly or untenable by projecting earthly categories there, Jesus had to rebuke the Sadducees of his day. They attempted to make heaven (which they rejected as a reality) look silly by projecting an earthly marriage scenario there of a woman who had seven husbands. Jesus said to them “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven (Mk 12:24-25). Thus, heaven is not like earth, and should not be reduced to it.  Nor are the souls in heaven presumed to be exactly the same as they are now.

Hence, to presume that Saints can hear us is not outlandish, for they are in Christ, and they are perfectly in communion with him in heaven. It is obviously Christ himself, then, who fosters our union with the Saints and their ability to remain in communion with us. For there is only one Body of Christ, and all the members are untied by the Head, who is Christ.

Now that the Saints do interact with us and present our prayers to God is stated in the Book of Revelation:

[T]he twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. (Rev 5:8)

Later we also see that the angels also collect the prayers of the saints:

Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne (Rev 8:3).

“Saints” here is used in the common first Century biblical sense as meaning those on earth who have accepted Christ (cf Eph 1:1; Phil 1:1; 2 Cor 9:1; Phil 1:5; Rom 16:2 and many,many more), not merely in the modern Catholic sense as only the canonized saints in heaven.

And thus, the image and teaching here is that the Holy Ones in heaven collect the prayers of the saints on earth and present them to God, like incense.

That these prayers have dramatic effects is illustrated in the verses that follow in Rev 8:

The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake. (Rev 8:4-5)

There follow seven trumpet blasts with confer God’s judgment and justice.

So the saints in heaven do hear us, they do collect our prayers and present them God and their intercession has powerful effects, the text from 1 Kings above, not withstanding.

Those who merely deny this based on some human notion of implausibility I would argue come under the Lord’s judgement: Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? (Mk 12:24). For though it may seem implausible to human minds, our God is able.  And he reveals in Scripture that he not only able to empower the heavenly saints and angels in this regard, he is also most willing.

Here is a very good and brief video on this by Tim Staples

58 Responses

  1. Leisa says:

    THANK YOU for writing this… thank you thank you thank you! THIS – i can understand.

  2. Dismas says:

    If I speak, the only reason I can speak is because God created me and gave me the gift or power to speak. If I speak and someone else hears me, the only reason they can hear me is because God created them and gave them the gift or power to hear.

    Why would this be any different for the Saints? These objections just strike me as silly. I guess this question sounds naive but I just can’t get my head around it.

  3. Ruth Ann says:

    Thanks for this post. It’s amazing how God gives me what I need when I need it. My cousin, no longer a Catholic, but now a Bible only Christian, recently brought up this subject of prayers to the “dead,” as she phrased it. I’m not trained to answer all the objections she has. I believe all the truths of the Catholic faith because they have been revealed to us by God. Trying to use only the Bible to support Catholic truths is not my forte. This helps a lot.

  4. Nguyen Thuong MInh says:

    Epistle 196
    My some ideas of “the homily” of Msgr. Charles Pope are here below:
    Firstly, the title of the homily means that “How can the Saints hear us? Because God is able to hear us!”.
    Here, essentially, Saints are people who have accepted Christ.
    Secondly, now permit me to discuss further some problems hereafter:
    First problem we need to discuss is that “Is God able to hear us?”
    There are two answers here:
    First, if God is not able to hear us, then why do we pray to God?
    When we pray to God, we believe that God is able to hear us.
    Second, in Matthew 1:23 written: “the virgin (Mary) shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.””
    Here, “God is with us”, that is, “Jesus is with us”. Thus, God is Jesus or Jesus also is God.
    However, in my opinion, “God is with us”, that is, “God lives in our heart”.
    Second problem we need to discuss is that “How can the Saints hear us?”
    Problem here is the word “how”. We use the word “how” to ask about the way in which something happens or is done.
    “God is with us” means “God is with Saints” or “God is with Catholics who have accepted Christ”. Therefore, the sentence “How can the Saints hear us?” is synonymous with “How can the God hear us?”
    In sum, how can the God hear us? My final answer is that God can hear us because God is with us or God is with the Church./.

  5. Akoni says:

    (Ecclesiastes 9:5) For the living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all, neither do they anymore have wages, because the remembrance of them has been forgotten.

    This is what my Evangelical Baptist Elder told me about praying for the dead & praying to the Saints. That’s why praying for the dead even what Catholics believed as already  Saints because they even question the Authority of the Church to make or declare somebody a Saint.

    And also Deuteronomy 18:10-11  - There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.

    Praying to the dead is necromancy.

    No matter what I say, he would not listen & it almost makes me cry bec he & his members were mostly ex-cath & I’m very very sure what the Catholic Church teach about these things.

    • Akoni says:

      sorry it is my friend an Evangelical Baptist Elder ….

    • Francine says:

      Your Elder needs to remember the creation of Man. “God breathed on him, and he became a living soul.”

      Your soul is the breath of God! As long as God is alive, your soul is alive.

      Your soul isn’t eternal, as God is eternal, since it had a beginning at some point in time, but when your heart stops beating, your soul leaves your body and returns to its Creator for judgement.

    • Well, the Baptist denomination is a relatively new phenomenon on the Christian scene. Some branches of it are less that 200 years old, and none are old than 500. The Catholic Church was seeking the intercession of the saints for 1500 years before any Protestant Church existed. Hence their dismissal of ancient tradition amounts to a novelty.

  6. Akoni says:

    Correction sorry: it is my friend an Evangelical Baptist Elder …. That’s why praying for the dead even what Catholics believed as already  Saints is against the God’s will & anti-Biblical because they even question the Authority of the Church to make or declare somebody a Saint.

  7. erica says:

    Wow! Thank you!

  8. BHG says:

    “Saints” here is used in the common first Century biblical sense as meaning those on earth who have accepted Christ (cf Eph 1:1; Phil 1:1; 2 Cor 9:1; Phil 1:5; Rom 16:2 and many,many more), not merely in the modern Catholic sense as only the canonized saints in heaven.

    This confused me a bit–it seems to imply only canonized Saints are currently in heaven. I have always understood that there are others in heaven, who are, of course, Saints by definition, but that we just happen to know the names of the canonized ones–they are the ones we are sure of. And that our goal, of course, is to join them, going from saints to Saints…Not a large point but want to be sure I am not wrong. Great post. I’m filing this one away for future use….

  9. teo matteo says:

    “A common Evangelical protest …”
    Msgr. Pope, thanks for the above essay. I’m just wondering, on a different note, if it is politically correct to refer to those Christians outside the Church as ‘Evangelicals’ and not Protestants? I know what a Protestant is, i’m really not sure what an Evangelical is.

    • Sarah says:

      An Evangelical is a certain kind of Protestant. So all Evangelicals are Protestant, but not all Protestants are Evangelical. Someone else will have to define what makes someone an Evangelical – the boundaries are kinda fuzzy.

      • Agreed. My point is that not all Protestants reject the appeal to saints. The Evangelicals, a branch of fundamentalists do however in toto.

        • Fr Horton says:

          The taxonomy of Protestantism is more complex than that. One can find Evangelicals who are not fundamentalists in any meaningful sense of the word “fundamentalist.”

  10. Richard says:

    I have two responses….first as to “talking to the dead” as written in Deuteronomy: Those who abide in Christ and die are more alive in heaven than on earth. They are not dead people. Deuteronomy is referring to witchcraft, sooth-sayers, psychics, tarot cards etc. Think of the Gospel story of the “Transfiguration”, did Jesus bring ‘dead people’ with him.

    2nd Point as a follow up to Teo Matteo’s posts. I often wonder what is an Evangelical? We are all called to Evangelize. However, as I have pondered this and often debate a friend who attends a “non-denominational” church, It is really not accurate to label these types of churches as Protestant. Their philosophy and worship is really in protest to the first Protestants, Lutherans, Anglicans, etc. Maybe Evangelical is a term for the new American movement of mega churches and local churches that pop up.

  11. GABRIEL says:

    To be a Saint requires faith Monsignore.
    Your faith needs to be tested if you wish to be a Saint.

    And since you happened to post your application, here is the ultimate test of faith designed especially for you:

    You have just stated that God is capable. Would you consider Him (Male) capable of even the incredible task of using a computer to read your blog and post His answers right here at your blog?

    Or do you think that would proove too much for The Almighty?
    A public and simple Yes or No answer right here online will suffice.

    And spare me the body-and-genderless limitations cathesis has placed on God.
    If God cannot even type, then you do not believe He is all powerful.

    And if genderlessness was some kind of honor worthy of God, every priest would happily cut their manhood off. Yet strangely most priest prefer to keep their manhood intact.

    Thus you evidently know deep down that non-gender is both an abomination and a horror.
    If anyone really believed that the supreme state of being was genderlessness, they would proove it by having surgery.

    If it was good enough for God, it should be good enough for you.
    So put your money were your mouth is and either have the very thing that makes you a “Father” surgically removed.

    Or face up and admit that God would never be pathetic enough to be without manhood and still call himself “Father.”

    Or simply take the gut-feeling test.

    If I claimed that Charles Pope “is neither man nor woman”, that would not be a compliment now would it?
    Does transgender Pope sound like something you would like to be called?

    So, then, it is settled.

    If genderlessness was perfection, chop off your manhood and become genderless yourself.
    Or renounce this heresy and remain men yourself.

    Here is the test of Faith:
    Could God write an answer online if He wanted to, or is that outside the limits of His powers?
    Could God have a body if He wanted to?

    Yes or No.

    If you answer “No” then you do not believe He is allmighty.
    If you answer “Yes” then we are in business and have plenty to talk about privately by mail.

    The ultimate test of faith for you Monsignore.
    Could The Lord write an answer online if He wanted to?

    Or does He not even have the capability to do that.

    G.

  12. Michael says:

    I suppose another biblical quotation to use in this instance would be that from chapter 27 of Matthew:

    But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, and gave up his spirit.
    And behold, the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth quaked, rocks were split,
    tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised.
    And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection, they entered the holy city and appeared to many.

    The question, then, to ask would be that if the saints “appeared to many”, does that mean those saints couldn’t hear, see, touch those to whom they appeared? Then, if they appeared to many then, does that mean only for those few short minutes, hours, days after the Lord’s death were they able to hear, see, touch those to whom they appeared? No matter what the “saints can’t hear us” crowd may answer to both the questions, ask them where their answer lies in the Bible. It seems they tell us the saints definitely cannot hear us at any time whatsoever and use their version of interpreting the Bible to do so. However, they will be quite befuddled trying to answer what the saints were able to do and not do when they were released from the tombs after Jesus’ death.

  13. Lagniappe says:

    The NT usage of saints, as Msgr Pope defines, is partly correct. That is, all believers were [and are still] saints. The word in the NT depicts the identity of Christ’s called out people, whether alive or dead; but no one is ever pronounced as Saint Paul, or Saint X. 2 Thes 2:10 describe saints as those who are believers and Jude 14 describes these as “holy ones” [holy means set apart] coming back with Christ.

    Hebrews 4:14-16 make it clear that Christ is the Great High Priest to whom we who are saints may come boldly, with confidence, with our prayers. The Rev 5 and 8 references do not measure up to proper interpretation for the “prayers of the saints” cannot be those already in heaven [supposedly intervening for us] but the prayers of those who were alive then, suffering through some persecution, etc., and are part of the worship taking place before the Lamb.

    Now, the selection of certain people who supposedly lived “holy” lives, and had miracles done in their name, etc., is suspect because it is impossible for humans to make such a selection. Who can know the heart of any individual even if their outward life has virtue, love, and works beyond reproach. Many religions propagate these credentials but an ecclesiastical pronouncement is mere speculation, at best.

    Moreover, when I have talked with true believing Catholics, they worry about dying “in a state of grace.” Thus, how many Catholics go straight to the presence of God? Purgatory is the stopping point, for who but a few could ever have all their sins purified at death per RCC dogma?.

    No Biblical evidence that clearly reveals the RCC system of praying to anyone other than the Father through the Son and with the Holy Ghost (Romans 8:26), leaves Catholics holding on to potentially false hopes. Again, Msgr Pope is on track about our bodies being changed in heaven when time is non-existent and our desires are no longer as we knew when alive. The purpose of being Christ’s is to bring glory to the Father for the sacrifice of the Lamb that was slain. Rev 5 is worshiping the sole One who could open the scrolls and his true church does not have a name but the Bride of Christ. It is made up of all true believers from times past till the day the Father calls an end.

    The ghost of Dominican Tetzel still roams the earth teaching that the kingdom of God is for the rich and the poor. No money, then fast and pray for indulgences, but his mantra can faintly be heard:

    “AS SOON AS THE COIN IN THE COFFER RINGS,
    THE SOUL FROM PURGATORY SPRINGS.”

    Prayer to saints or indulgences to ease purgatorial time–it’s all the same. And my heart breaks for such deception. Peace.

    • Gil says:

      Better to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” than to lead a life of sin and have a false hope of salvation because you prayed a prayer or walked an aisle. There are multiple, very real warnings in Scripture about being careful that you don’t fall away from the faith. Either these warnings were presenting a real danger to the soul, or they were wasted words. God doesn’t waste words.

      As for your comments about not knowing the hearts of the saints, you yourself said that you have spoken to “true, believing Catholics.” How do you know they were true believers if you cannot see their hearts? How do you know any Christian you admire (perhaps John Calvin, Martin Luther, Charles Spurgeon, etc.) was truly a believer? After all, you cannot know their hearts. Yet you never question the validity of their faith. Canonization is not done on a whim. It is a careful and prayerful process.

      • Draz says:

        It is critically important to note that Paul said “work out your salvation,” and not “work FOR your salvation.” Paul wrote those words “to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi.” In other words, he was speaking to believers.

        “Work out” doesn’t indicate the need to walk a treadmill of good works and deeds to earn or maintain your salvation. It means to “perform; exibit; display.” He’s telling believers that they should be living according to their new position in Christ, and displaying Christ to a lost an unbelieving world.

    • anonymous says:

      Amen Lagniappe. Amen.

      Also, look at it like this: 1.) All RCC canonized saints after somewhere around 1000ad have gone through a process to sainthood that requires miracles for proof by a prayer offered to a saint for it to be authentic. Read Job 1&2. Satan can and does inflict sickness. So can’t he who inflicts also take away? Is not this a total example of “Satan’s so-called deep secrets”? 2.) Now if you were to offer up a prayer to someone you thought could be a saint that wasn’t in heaven, but was in hell, then you’re offering prayers to the dominion. Why put yourself in that position?

    • Lag’s understanding of indulgences is poor as well.

  14. Will says:

    It is quite amazing how much the heretical churches have lost.

  15. Richard says:

    My shortened version reads like this: Who has the authority to bind and loosen in heaven and earth? AND…what did JESUS mean when he said told the disciples, “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into al the truth…” (from John 16).

    Now as a Catholic I know what I think and believe. I can only imagine how overwhelmingly things were to the Apostles up to that point. Yet JESUS clearly declares that the Holy Spirit will guide them in ALL truth. If it is not the Catholic Church, at what point did this verse become null and void? We know from Bible that there are many gifts of the Spirit but we also know that there can only be one truth. So many “believers” and “pastors” claim that the Holy Spirit spoke to them, but how does anyone know?

    My input.

    Many Monsignor can touch on these points more, time permitting.

    • Yes, time is short but I agree will all you have said here. An awful lot of stuff comes down to the authority to preach and teach in God’s name and I am not sure where any Protestant pastor (since they are outside any share in apostolic succession) get their authority.

      • Draz says:

        To answer your query, the books of 2 Timothy and Titus lay out the Biblical qualifications for pastors (bishops / elders) and deacons. The distinction between clergy and laity, or the implication that there is some kind of authority of one over the other, is not found in strictly Bible-based local churches. 2 Timothy 2:2 is a charge to all believers — members of the body of Christ. It says “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” You don’t need to be an ordained pastor (bishop / elder… the terms are interchangeable, Biblically) to do this.

        A pastor is responsible for teaching and preaching God’s Word to a local assembly, and maintaining Biblical standards for worship services, gatherings & fellowships, and for the day to day operations of the church (after all, the local church still operates within the confines of society). However, no special “authority” from God is conferred upon a pastor, other than the responsibility to lead his church according to the Bible. He’s just a guy with a burden to share God’s Word.

        “Protestant” is a hugely broad term, but I hope this helps you understand the role of a pastor in the strictly Biblical sense.

        ~Draz

  16. Richard says:

    -edit- from previous post. Last sentence should read: Maybe Monsignor…instead of many.

  17. esiul says:

    Dear Msgr. Pope,
    Love the painting of the altar and the priest saying Mass. There are the saints surrounding. That picture is a very good explanation of the fact of what we believe.
    I’ve known this as long as I can remember that our dearly departed come down to join us during Mass.
    Good job Msgr., you are a great teacher.

  18. Barry says:

    Nice article and good responses, but may I echo a couple of them? If someone asks “How can they hear our prayers?” A simple answer is “God allows it, do you doubt God can do this?” If we have faith, we don’t need to know the mechanics of it. God allows it.

  19. Draz says:

    I hope and pray that you consider this…

    The Word of God makes it clear that Christ Himself is our one and only mediator:

    “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 2:5

    Christ alone intercedes on our behalf, before God the Father:

    “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” Romans 8:34

    “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25

    Furthermore, Christ sent the Holy Spirit to make intercession for us:

    “And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:27

    While this is a well-written article, the focus is on upholding a tradition that falls short of the glorious promises given to us by God in His own Word. Why put so much time and effort into defending the practice of praying to saints to intercede for us, when we have been given the incredible privilege of having Jesus Christ as our intercessor? There is no need to ask a saint to pray for you, when you have been given access to God Himself through the shed blood of Christ.

    “According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.” Ephesians 3:11-12

    “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.” Hebrews 10:19

    These are not my words, they are the Word of God. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, these words were “written under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, they have God for their author.” It is not Evangelical ridicule, it is divinely inspired truth. Whether you dismiss me as a “Bible-only Christian” or a “Fundamental Evangelical,” the fact is that in order to reject the truth of what I am saying in favor of the tradition of praying to saints, you need to reject the Word of God, and reject Catholic doctrine which defines it as “infallible truth.”

    “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.” Psalm 12:6

    I imagine these comments are moderated, but I sincerely hope that this post receives a response.

    In Christ,
    Draz

    • Then I guess I shouldn’t ask you to pray for me Draz?

      • Draz says:

        My goodness, why not? I don’t understand why you would say that, based on my post. The point is, by authority of the blood of Christ, and with the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit, I can pray with boldness directly to God the Father. I don’t need to pray to a saint to intercede on my behalf, or yours.

        • I don’t need to pray to a saint either, any more than I need you to pray for me in any absolute sense. But your post indicates, according to me, that asking others to pray for us is pointless since we can go straight to God. Why bother asking anyone to pray for us, let alone a saint in heaven? That seems the conclusion of your point.

          But the fact is, we are told in scripture to pray for one another. Paul et al., ask prayers and promise prayers. Why? If, according to you, the direct line is open, why call a flunkie? In the end we do have an instinct to ask others to pray.

          Perhaps the solution is not your either/or scenario, but my both/and scenario. I do have a direct line to God, but I also know to ask others, including the saints, to pray for me. So I talk to God and I ask others to do so as well. Our practice of asking others including the saints to pray for us does not deny the direct line and you ought not presume that we are that stupid. Rather, it is a normal Christian instinct to invoke the help of others prayers.

  20. Draz says:

    I made no implication that I presume anyone to be stupid.

    The verses you cite in Revelation… honestly, I’d have to dig out studies and research that I did more than a decade ago to get the full context of who the “twenty four elders” are. But, in any event, those verses specifically state that it is the twenty four elders who are holding the golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

    Monsignor, how does the fact that twenty four (a very specific number) elders collect the prayers of the saints during one specific point in prophecy imply that all of the hundreds — if not thousands — of canonized saints in heaven are hearing and collecting our prayers? It is fair to say that prophecy is simply the history of the future. I believe that taking a one-time historical event and building a doctrinal system around it can lead to serious confusion and error. You, yourself stated to a poster named Michael, in regards to his comments and questions about Matthew 27, that “since it is a one-time occurrence, it may be had to get a good conversation started.”

    Please allow me to illustrate. It is a historical fact that God smote the first child born of David and Bathsheba, and despite David’s fervent prayers, the baby died. From that one-time historical event, should we presume that it is an all-encompassing doctrinal truth that God will kill any baby born from an adulterous relationship? No, of course not. Nor, in my estimation, should we form a doctrine of praying to the myriad saints of heaven because Revelation mentions twenty four elders presenting prayers to God like incense… most especially when the Scripture in question is a direct reference to the fulfillment of God’s prophetic program for the earthly nation of Israel, and has nothing whatsoever to do with grace age saints, the body of Christ.

    Paul consistently hammers in the critical importance of prayer. He begs it for himself, and commands on behalf of Jesus Christ that we do it for one another. But, in every single instance, he is writing to local assemblies of believers living and breathing on earth in this present age of grace. Context and target audience is essential to the understanding of God’s Word. With respect, both the historical context and the target audience of Revelation 5 and 8 are out of place for the doctrine you’re attempting to draw from them.

    Regards,
    Draz

    • But your point that we have one mediator DOES exclude any notion of intercessory prayer, which was my point. You are now distinguishing that point as you should have originally and hence Paul’s point is not as absolutist as you first implied. You are free to doubt intercessory prayer with the saints, as you obviously do, But the Catholic and Orthodox Churches have had recourse to this form of prayer for 2000 years. It is only in recent centuries that certain Protestant denominations have doubted or denied it. All these Protestant communities are less than 500 years old, some far younger than that. I would prefer to accept the ancient Tradition than set it aside for modern and novel positions. I would also prefer to read the Scriptures in the light of the ancient tradition from which it emerged rather than by the merely, rationalistic, reductionist and post Cartesian lights of the modern West in which protestantism was birthed.

      • Nathan says:

        So, duration is evidence of truth. Sorry but that is incorrect. In fact I find the suggestion very interesting. Isn’t that essentially the response Jesus got from the Sanhedrin? We Jews have been living under the law for 2000 years and here comes this Jesus guy telling us it’s by faith and grace not by works and law? Their exact argument would be, and was, we’ve been doing this for 2000 years, we don’t need this new thing called Christianity.

        I’m not trying to get into the debate about do saints hear our prayers or not, but this is the second time I’ve seen the appeal to tradition and it’s a specious argument. It doesn’t lend weight to your position any more than it did for those that argued an earth centered universe because this “new idea” hasn’t stood the test of time.

        In a life long pursuit of God I’m not interested in what ideas are new or old, I’m interested in what is true and the length of time something has been believed is NOT evidence of the truth of a thing.

  21. Draz says:

    I can see that this has become a circular discussion, and I believe continuing it would only lead to contention and fruitless debate. Such an effort would only lead to mutual disrespect, and in fact would dishonor Christ’s wishes according to Titus 3:9 – “But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.”

    Therefore, with all respect due to your position, beliefs, and education, I leave you with this one final thought. By very definition, the word “Protestant” indicates a discord. There is a “protest” in effect. The Protestant denominations that you often refer to were birthed out of protest against the doctrines and practices of the Catholic Church, as you said, around 500 years ago. But, my belief and the words I am citing to support it are not based on any religious denomination created by men who were seeking something modern and novel in favor of Catholicism. My faith is not founded in Protestant protestation of Catholic beliefs… in fact, they are completely independent of them. My faith is grounded and rooted solely in the Word of God, and His promises to us all in light of the glorious sacrifice of our Savior, His Son, Jesus Christ. Your teachings have recourse to your form of prayer for 2000 years. But, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). I humbly submit that the basis for my faith predates yours.

    I do not read Scriptures in light of any Tradition, rather I simply take God at His Word, and have faith that He says what He means and means what He says. I read His Word, study it (as He commands us to do), and have faith in it. I do not depend upon any ancient interpretations of men.

    “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15

    “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 2 Peter 1:20-21

    Monsignor, you prefer to accept ancient Tradition-with-a-capital-T, and I am sadly confident that nothing I can say will be able to sway you from that. You are a man of faith and conviction, and words from a man like me, bringing everything you were taught into question, are easily dismissed and cast aside in favor of ancient religious Tradition. Therefore, if my words hold no weight, then I leave you with God’s Words:

    “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Colossians 2:8

    • You do read the Scriptures in the light of a tradition, everyone does. You read them according to your own lights, as a man of your time. You a cannot claim to simply read them at face value, for they must be interpreted. For you to claim independence from this is unrealistic.

      Protestantism is a movement of post-Cartesian, reductionism that claims to read the word only in the light of its plain meaning. But that is a reductionist interpretation, and though you claim independence from it, you articulate its claim exactly by stating (in a rather self congratulatory way) that you merely take God at his word. You do not, you interpret that word according to your own reductionist philosophy. The word of God is reduced to Draz’ understanding of it.

      But the Bible is a Church book. The word of God emerged from the Catholic and Orthodox churches in the early centuries of Christendom and cannot be understood or properly read apart from the faith Tradition that gave rise to it. You and all protestants claim an ability and right to read it apart from that, but THAT is a tradition of men, and a post Cartesian and reductionist human philosophy at that. You reduce the Word of God to ink spots on a page.

      But the Word of God is Jesus Christ alive in his Church, the Word of God is the Holy text proclaimed and preached within the Church and to the world in the light of the sacred Tradition which gave rise to it. It is clear truth that the early Christians, while sharing a sacred text with the Jews did not interpret it in the same way as the did the Jews. They saw the texts as pointing to Christ. Scripture is more than a text on a page, it is a living understanding of the Church who encountered Jesus Christ and saw and interpreted the Scriptures in the light of that experience of the risen Lord.

      For you, it would seem Scripture is just a text on a page for you to interpret at will. This is reductionist and reduces the text to the thing in itself, to ink spots on a page.

      Jesus never wrote a book, neither did he command the writing of a book. He founded a community of believers which he called his Church and sent them forth to proclaim. It is the Church that articulated the Lord’s words and deeds and ultimately committed them to writing, but a writing to be understood in the light of the Church’s communal understanding of those texts, not merely for Draz et al. to wander off with in different direction. The Bible is a Church book.

      The Colossians text you quote refers more rightly to you, for Jesus is the head of the body the Church, hence the Traditions of the ancient Catholic and Orthodox Churches are not traditions of men, but of Christ. It is you who follow the traditions of men. In a way you are even bolder than the Col. text rebukes, for you follow not even the tradition of men, but of a man, Draz. And this indeed, is a most vain and prideful deceit, far more bold than any one who submits to an ancient Tradition of a Church with Christ as head.

      You claim to merely read the Bible at face value. You do not and cannot. But what you are really putting faith in, is not the sacred text, but Draz’s interpretation of that text an interpretation which is neither time tested nor submitted to anyone other than Draz. It is Draz who becomes the Holy Spirit in his own estimation for it is Draz who claims that, merely because Draz says it, it is of the Holy Spirit.

      • Lionel says:

        Your response to Draz is a eye opener. Yes i agree Scripture has to be interpreted. Yes, jews did not view (even now) Jesus as Missah (Christ) even when they had the same scripture as that of the early church.
        Only when Jesus reminded his disciples on the road to Galilee (after resurrection) they understood. Same is the case with the Eunuch who got baptised in the Acts. And i now realise that the early chruch just had only Old Testament and the traditions..

  22. Richard says:

    for Draz, first Timothy, chap 3 states that the Church of the living God is bulwark of authority. Before that, we know Peter was given the Keys to the Kingdom. And if it wasn’t for the Catholic Church, it is possible that a Bible would have never existed. On what tradition or whose authority do non-Catholics even create a church? and on whose authority and or what tradition (besides Luther) do non-Catholics decide that there is a Bible and what books go into it? Please help, because I can never get a direct answer to that one and I can’t find it in Scripture.

    Peace to all

    • Draz says:

      Sorry, I wasn’t ignoring you. I didn’t see this until now. To answer your question directly, with the understanding that this is not in line with Catholic beliefs, we believe in the autonomy of the local church.

      Jesus Christ is the Head of this church and we as believers are His body. The word “church” here, in context, speaks of the global fellowship of believers, the body of Christ, not a denomination or religious affiliation. Ephesians 1:20-23

      This local church is free from external control. It makes its own decisions concerning buildings, property, senior pastor, etc., as led by our Head, Jesus Christ. Colossians 2:4-7, 9-10, 18-19; Ephesians 3:16-21, 4:15-16

  23. Ryan M. says:

    A couple of verses that have always helped me on the matter: (CAPITAL LETTERS are not shouting, but points of emphasis)

    1. Lk. 16:19-31- “Lazarus and the Rich Man”. Assuming that everyone can read the story for themselves, I would like to (briefly) point out some important events.

    - (v. 23-24) When Lazarus and the rich man die, they are “far off” from each other. We cannot say with certainty the distance between Abraham’s Bosom and the “Netherworld,” but the verse does remark that the distance is great.

    -(v.24) The rich man asks for the aid of “Father Abraham”. So, he refers to Abraham as his father, and asks for his assistance. Why not just ask God? And, if you were to answer that “he could see Abraham- that is why he asked him” you must then admit that the rich man could see Abraham, even from a great distance, so what makes it so unlikely that he could not hear him and his petitions as well?

    -(v.25) Abraham, in fact, DOES hear this man, and even responds to him! So, this man Abraham, who died and was buried at Machpelah facing Mamre, is now able to hear the prayers of a man “far off” from his own position. And, if you were to say “Well, Abraham’s Bosom, according to Jewish Tradition, is not in Heaven; this is why he was heard” then you would then be saying that it was more likely that Abraham heard the man OUTSIDE of Heaven but would have more trouble hearing him IN Heaven?

    2. Matthew 22:32- The quote (remarked as “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.”

    In brief: all three of the men mentioned (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob) were buried in that cave at Machpelah facing Mamre, and, by all human definitions, are dead. But God here remarks that he is a “God of the LIVING.” Logically, it would follow that all three men are alive, at least in heaven, in the spirit. It would do us well to remember the words of Jn. 11:25-26-”I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me WILL NEVER DIE”.

    Those who are counted among the saints on earth will be counted among the saints in heaven, and it is clear that they pray for us; distance and human limitations are not of account, because we are not talking any longer about fleshly creatures but spirits, and Catholic Church has authoritatively taught for 2,000 years that these spirits can pray for us, as they are part of the same Body of Christ as any living believer- this is what we call the “Communion of Saints.”

    God bless all of you, and may the prayers of all the saints assist us in gaining eternal life.

  24. Jason Bangayan says:

    While it is true that saints can hear us, we are to be reminded that we are only to pray to the Lord and no one else. Why pray for intercession from souls that went to Heaven instead of praying directing to the Lord? These “saints” are people who dedicated their lives for the Lord, and lived exemplary Christian lives. Man gave them titles as “saints”. While they are honorable, they are just souls that live in Heaven. They don’t have God’s power to forgive or influence God’s mind. God doesn’t need messengers to tell Him what to do, nor do they have powers that influence God’s decisions. Saints are not messengers for us to God. They are just like us but lived holy lives. When souls go to Heaven, they don’t turn into angels either, for angels are entirely different from us, and made for a different purpose.

    Nor are saints angels. Angels are messengers of God and can only communicate to us what God wants to tell us. Angels are not for us to use as messengers to God either.

    The only being that we should communicate with is the Lord.

    I have an aunt who speaks to her guardian angel, David, and David clarified all my frustrations about this.

    People may say that Jesus listened to Mary when He was told by His mother to turn water into wine at the wedding in Cana. While Jesus listened, He also corrected His mother saying that it is not yet His time to do such things. It’s a respectful way of saying, “Do not tell me what to do for the Father knows what He’s doing.” The reason why Jesus listened to his mother in this instance is because Mary is his mother on earth, and therefore He must follow her advice to fulfill His role as a human son, set as an example to us. Even Mary took His words to heart. However, when life on earth is done, things are different. Life in Heaven is different. We are not bounded by any human relationships in Heaven. The only relationship that we would have is with God.

    Read through related articles based on His messages and you’ll be clarified:

    http://jasonbee98.wordpress.com/2011/06/03/mesages-about-religion-and-faith-that-the-lord-wants-us-to-share/

    http://jasonbee98.wordpress.com/2011/06/08/be-shepherds-of-god-to-one-another/

    http://jasonbee98.wordpress.com/2011/05/26/clarifications-from-the-lord-through-an-angel-and-a-human-messenger/

  25. Ryan M. says:

    “Why pray for intercession from souls that went to Heaven instead of praying directing to the Lord?”

    Why ask anyone on earth to pray for you when you can bring all your petitions to the Lord yourself? If anything, the saints are MORE alive than we are, and they share a more intimate bond with God, since they are all spirit and no longer tormented by the desires of the flesh. With them, there’s no earthly distraction, and their entire selves are devoted to prayer.

    If you will not ask them to pray for you, then do not ask your friends on earth, either. Doing so would be inconsistent.

    I am also befuddled by this attitude of “all that matters is my personal relationship with Jesus” since:

    -The “Our Father”, the prayer of the Church, is not a personal prayer. If it were, it would be called the “My Father.” And, by the way, when you are praying it alone, who is praying with you?

    -The letters of the NT are (almost exclusively) addressed to Churches; they were letters with lessons to be acted on by the community at large. The “personal relationship” attitude often leads to a “Church of Me” situation; I have seen it happen plenty of times, and you probably have as well.

    -While God could have done everything in relation to salvation by himself without human interaction, the plan did not unfold that way. Who were the Patriarchs, but men and women, Jew and Gentile, who, no matter how flawed, were the instruments of God? The examples of this in scripture are innumerable, but I will point out a couple in Exodus:

    Ex. 6:13- ” Still, the LORD, to bring the Israelites out of Egypt, spoke to Moses and Aaron and gave them his orders regarding both the Israelites and Pharaoh, king of Egypt.” In spite of Moses’ protests and fear of speaking, God is determined to carry out his plan through Moses. He didn’t say “Well, this guy’s useless, I will just do it all myself” but was patient with him and made him as God to Pharaoh-”See! I have made you as God to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother shall act as your prophet.” (Ex. 7:1)

    God carried out his plan through the likes of David, Rahab and others who had serious flaws. This does not change in the NT, as two of the most flawed disciples of Christ (Peter and Judas Iscariot) are part of the plan of salvation (though the latter was to his own detriment). The apostles that survived Judas founded the Church as we know it, and even appointed successors within the pages of scripture (i.e.- Paul appointing Timothy as the authority over Ephesus, which we have no reason to believe that this process would somehow cease at the conclusion of Revelation).

    Of course, accepting the appropriate human authority whittles down the Protestant communities awfully fast, hence, the trepidation. I would ask you to pray on the matter of: “Is there a God ordained human authority that I need to follow?”

  26. Basil Emeokoro says:

    God is good all the time.

Leave a Reply