I recently had an interaction with a commenter on this blog who brought up the common Protestant objection that, since there is one (sole) mediator between God and Man, Jesus, asking the saints to pray for us is useless, wrong and maybe even sinful. Yes it is quite a common objection, more so today that I remember twenty or thirty years ago.
Thus, to the suggestion by another comment that one might ask help from Our Lady, the commenter, (Gerry), objected as such:
JESUS IS THE MEDIATOR , Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, and Comforter. MARY IS THE SYMBOL OF THE CHURCH.
- 1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and there is ONE MEDIATOR between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all.
- Hebrews 12:24 to JESUS THE MEDIATOR of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
- Hebrews 9:15 For this reason CHRIST IS THE MEDIATOR of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
- 1 John 2:1 My little children, I write these things to you so that you may not sin. If anyone sins, we have a Counselor [Greek Parakleton: Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, and Comforter.] with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous.
- John 14:16-17 I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, [Greek Parakleton: Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, and Comforter.] that he may be with you forever,- the Spirit of truth, whom the world can’t receive; for it doesn’t see him, neither knows him. You know him, for he lives with you, and will be in you.
- John 14:26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and will remind you of all that I said to you.
- John 15:26 When the Counselor [Greek Parakletos: Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, and Comforter.] has come, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will testify about me.
- John 16:13 However when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth, for he will not speak from himself; but whatever he hears, he will speak. He will declare to you things that are coming.
- Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us[a] with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
Learn to live from Mary! She asked you to obey and listen to her son Jesus! Focus on Jesus, not Mary
My own response to Gerry was as such:
Well, we do not speak of or teach a substitutional mediation in invoking the saints, as if we were trying to go to the Father apart from Jesus’ Mediation.
Rather we speak of a subordinate mediation when we seek the prayers of the saints, or of one another. For indeed we could have no communion with them or each other if it be not for Jesus Christ, who as the head of the Body the Church, unites all his members and facilitates our communion with each other.
You seem to speak of there being one mediator in an absolute sense, excluding any other possible interaction or any subordinate mediation. But Consider, that if there is only one mediator in the absolute sense you say, then you ought never again to ask ANYONE to pray for you. Neither should you attend any church, read any book, listen to any sermon or even read the Bible (since the Bible mediates Jesus words to you).
Now, a “mediator” is someone or something that acts as a kind of go-between, as something which acts to facilitate our relationship with Jesus. And though Jesus mediates our relationship to the Father, he also asked Apostles, preachers and teachers to mediate, to facilitate his relationship with us.
Thus Jesus sent apostles out to draw others to him. And St. Paul says, How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. (Rom 10:14-15, 17) And thus Jesus has his relationship with us mediated through his Word, and through the apostles and others who announce that Word and draw us to him.
But since you say there is absolutely only ONE mediator, and no subordinate or deputed mediators, there is therefore no need to ask ANYONE or ANYTHING to mediate. So burn your Bible, stop asking anyone to pray for you, seek no advice, NO ONE can mediate a single thing to you Gerry. No one can do this because there is, as you say in an unqualified sense, absolutely only ONE mediator. ONE!
Further, it also seems to follow you must also cease and desist from trying mediate anything. For if no one can mediate anything of Jesus to you, than neither can you mediate anything to them, since as you say there is absolutely only ONE mediator. No you cannot speak Jesus’ words or his will to others, because you are trying to mediate, you are acting as a kind of go-between, as someone who speaks God’s will to another. But Gerry, according to you there is only ONE mediator! Thus, How dare you try and get between Jesus and anyone else, there is ONE, absolutely only ONE mediator. Jesus doesn’t need you and you are violating the ONE mediator rule.
But as for me, I will go one praying for you and others because I see that there is a subordinated mediatorship in service of Christ’s supreme mediatorship. And just like the Bible can mediate his presence and will, or like a preacher can mediate his word, so too the prayers of others, including the Saints, can also convey my prayers to Him, and Jesus can mediate my prayers to the Father.
Consider the analogy of the Body, since the Church is Christ’s body. Jesus has one body and all the parts are connected through the Head, who is Jesus. Consider your own body. All the members of your body have communion and unity through your head, your mind. There are different ways to have interaction with others. Perhaps some one will reach you through your ears, by speaking, or by taping you on your shoulder, or visually by waving. And thus, various members of your body facilitate (mediate) interaction with others in different ways, but it is all facilitated through the head of your body, your mind. So too do I confidently expect to reach Jesus in different ways, whether directly, or through one of his members, realizing that He himself facilitates it.
Regarding your thoughts on Mary: Since Jesus’ body is the Church, this makes Mary Mother of the Church, not just a symbol of it, as you call her. Since she is the Mother of Jesus and he is the head of the Body, the Church. It would be freakish to consider a mother giving birth to only the head of her child, but not the rest of his Body. So Mary is Mother of the Church. If she gave birth to the Head, she gave birth to the Body. Therefore Mary is Mother of the Church, which is the Body of Christ.
Further your instruction to follow Mary’s instruction to obey Jesus is a reference to her final recorded words: “Do whatever he tells you.” (Jn 2:5). I am not sure if you recall the context of this verse, but in saying this she had been interceding with Jesus on behalf of a couple at wedding where the wine ran short! She was acting as a mediator by communicating to Jesus their needs! And, When Jesus resists her request to make wine at first, she uses her motherly charm to overcome his resistance to such an extent that he is making gallons of wine!
Isn’t it ironic that you would pick a verse from Scripture to dismiss intercessory prayer which is actually a powerful example of that very practice?
But as for you Gerry, the consequence of your interpretation of absolutely and only ONE mediator, is that you must say nothing, hear nothing, interact with no one, depend on no one, and live in a closed “me and Jesus” circle. You must shut absolutely everyone and everything else out, including the Bible, for there is ONE MEDIATOR – no one, and nothing can mediate Jesus to you. There can be no go-betweens.
Well of course my answer to Gerry can use some improvements. You will add them. Also Catholic Answers has many wonderful resources. But the point here is that the Catholic practice of asking prayers of saints is attested not only Scripture, but also by common sense and the long practice of the faith.
62 Replies to “Answering those who say there is only one Mediator”
I recently read that 1TIM refers to salvation only. CHRIST is our mediator before GOD in Heaven. However, prayer and asking others to pray as well as SAINTS is much different than context of 1 TIM.
Don’t you know anything? HERE IS AN EXAMPLE OF A PROTESTANT WHO DON’T READ THE BIBLE:
” And the smoke of the incense of the PRAYERS OF THE SAINTS ascended up before God from the hand of the angel.” – Revelation 8:4
And who were the saints praying for Gerry? For themselves? Oh no, and St. John who wrote the Book of Revelation should NOT intercede for us by writing the WHOLE BOOK OF REVELATION to help us.
St. John was a mediator and he got the visions — Duh!!!!
“Saying: What thou seest, write in a book, and send to the seven churches which are in Asia, to Ephesus, and to Smyrna, and to Pergamus, and to Thyatira, and to Sardis, and to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.” – Revelation 1:11
Oh my Protestant’s brain is not using logic!
I would not venture an improvement to your response to Gerry, Monsignor. You said it just fine.
It’s also bit ironic that his first example is preceeded by exhortation to intercession/ mediation; “First of all, then, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity.” (1 Tim 2; 1,2)
But what joy it is to pray and speak with God’s Holy Ones.
Well said Msgr. this is very logical and inspiring.
This is a wonderful piece, Monsignor. Whenever anyone says to me, “I don’t need to pray to Mary; I go straight to Jesus”, I ask them, “Then why do you ask ME to pray for you? Why do you ask ANYONE to pray for you?”
I also try to point out to them that if our prayers are heard by God, how much more are Mary’s since she is truly holy and sees God face-to-face. Our prayers are sometimes hindered by sin, doubt, and neglect.
A big objection I always hear is, “But…Mary’s dead.” This drives me crazy!!
I hear the same thing. But Mary, Joseph (insert name of saint here) are all dead. It makes me crazy too.
But they are not dead. Jesus says to the Sadducees who held your view “for to Him, the Father all are alive” They are not dead
…to which a Protestant may be thinking, “Well, yes, to God they are alive, but that doesn’t mean that we should try to interact with them.” He or she may have in mind the prohibition against spiritism/mediums/etc.
Yes I cant answer every question here. But clearly there are passages that speak of the saints interceding for us, eg in relation. Jeremiah is said to pray for us in the OT . More here: http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/any-friend-of-god-is-a-friend-of-mine.
Excellent reference, thank you, Msgr.! Bookmarking and will read at length.
From a convert here… I don’t have a problem for asking intercession from saints, but many Protestants do. The analogy of “You ask your friends and relatives to ask you to pray for you don’t you? Same thing!” does not work for them. You can suggest that, but if your Protestant friend balks at it, then you have a different problem, which is that (at least talking from my experience), Protestants don’t have much of a theology at all of what happens after you die. Look at the many different views of the Rapture, the Second Coming, etc. etc. So if you say, “…it’s the same thing as having a living friend pray for you…” your Protestant friend is thinking, “We really have no idea what happens when we die except that in some way we encounter Jesus, so, no, we don’t know if the deceased can really hear us or intercede for us, and since we don’t know, it’s probably superstitious to try.”
Very good point!
I’m a “revert” – spent 15 years in a Baptist church and we never spoke of what happened to Mary, Joseph, and all the saints… Yet we did talk about the crowns we will receive in heaven and the mansions we will live in (because it’s in the Bible). We had no problem believing that we will reign with Christ, yet for some reason we never thought of Mary reigning with Christ. We did, however, scoff at the idea of Mary being the Queen of Heaven. It sounded so ridiculous, so idolatrous. Yet, that is where this belief ends. Mary, the mother of the King of Kings, is therefore the Queen. She too, reigns with Christ and received her well-deserved crown.
Unfortunately, these discussions don’t take place and few bother to think about where certain beliefs (like reigning with Christ) lead us to.
A perfect example of “proof texting”. Lifting verses out of context and stacking them together like Lego blocks. I was a Southern Baptist for 18 years and used to do this. Reach your conclusion first, stack up the most Bible quotes containing key words or phrases you picked, “win” debate. 123.
Yes, manipulating sacred scriptures to justify staying out of the Catholic Church!
Thank you for this post. It’s good to see people actually upset about heresy instead of just letting it slide and then saying, “Pray for your Protestant Brothers and Sisters.” Although, yes, we continue to pray for them, I have this feeling that we’ve lost a sense of what heresy is, and Protestantism is heresy. They may have a portion of the Truth, and this may be a preparation for full communion with The Church of God at some point, but where have the St. Nicolases, St. Athanasiuses, St. Augustines, St. Ambroses gone when we used to detest heresy and fight it sometimes literally with fists? If we truly love Our Lord, we would harbor a healthy anger against heresy, and anything that goes against the Truth of the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Faith.
Thank God for His mother Mary and the “Communion of Saints”. Well done Monsignor!
Yet, another example of Catholic theological malpractice. I left the Catholic Church because her theology is based on her ability to skirt the plain teachings of Scripture. Most of her theology rests on the inventions and clever deceptions of ancient men, who mixed paganism, Greek philosophy, with a faulty understanding of Scripture. Such people are in for a rude awakening at the Final Judgment.
You havent really anything I said. You just say nay and sit in a judgement seat that doesn’t belong to you.
You do understand that Hellenistic Judaism (and thus early Christianity) adopted the notion of an immortal soul and Final Judgment from the Greek philosophy you so conveniently disparage, don’t you?
For if you look through the Hebrew Scriptures, especially those that deal with the question of God’s justice and its implementation in rewarding the righteous and punishing the wicked (e.g. the Book of Job), you will see that they did not have a conception of an afterlife or a final judgment at which the righteous would be vindicated. That’s what makes Job such a frustrating book: even as his friends repeat platitudes about the rewards of righteousness and the punishments of wickedness, he looks around and all he sees are the righteous (like himself) being oppressed and punished because the wicked lord it over them.
Where the Jewish tradition, as seen for example in the deutero-canonical work, “Wisdom of Solomon”, finally finds a solution to this conundrum is in adopting perspectives developed in Greek philosophy concerning the immortality of the soul and its judgment after the death of the body. (For example, you can read Plato’s dialogue “Phaedo” alongside “Wisdom of Solomon” to see the parallels.)
So by promising traditional Christians a rude awakening on Judgment Day, you are using a Greek philosophical concept to castigate the use of Greek philosophy.
So how far does this adopting (from the Greek philosophy) of an immortal soul go? In 1 Samuel 28 Samuel chastises for being brought up/disturbed.
Maybe even earlier references.
I wonder, do you consider St. Ignatius of Antioch a clever deceiver in the ancient world? He was taught by St John the apostle. He was being deported to Rome to be killed in Colosseum when he penned these words in 107 AD:
“See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either
by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.”
Did not St Paul say, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach (to you) a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed!” (Galations 1:8)? And if he did say that, doesn’t that mean we must adhere to the teachings of the Apostles in full? You may object, “But only scripture contains these teachings!” But St. Paul also said, “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.” (2 Thessalonians 2:15). Read Acts 15 and see how little scripture is required for Peter to come to a decision on whether the new Gentile Christians had to be circumcised first. And with what authority can any man say, “For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things”? (Acts 15:28).
Gerald, I made the same mistake as you. Having read scriptures and believing that I knew so much, I left the Catholic Church because it did not resemble the church I discovered in the New Testament pages. Another reason I left is because I decided to listen to and accept the teachings of those who were anti-Catholic. I never bothered to learn the history and the doctrines of the Church. I just left.
It took me 15 years to find my way back. History is on the side of the Catholic Church and scriptures – when understood in the light of Catholic doctrine – cease to be confusing and divisive.
I, too, suggest you study the Church Fathers, as Michael wrote. Should you read them, you will find that the Church of the first, second and third centuries is decidedly Catholic. I wish you all the best!
Here’s another example of a Protestant who don’t read the Bible:
” And the smoke of the incense of the PRAYERS OF THE SAINTS ascended up before God from the hand of the angel.” – Revelation 8:4
And what else is Mary’s motherhood of Jesus but the mediation, i.e. the medium, the means by which his divinity was clothed in human flesh? Thus, in her office of Mother of God, she is the Mediatrix of the Incarnation.
(And though it might not appeal to Protestants, St. Hildegard of Bingen’s musical compositions devoted to the Virgin do a fine job of exploring in poetry this feature of Mary’s motherhood.)
Angels. Certainly their primary purpose is the worship of God, but in their interactions with us they are mediating God’s will to us. Which is why we’ve known them as messengers.
Excellent, Monsignor. Thank you so much. You are reaching many I hope. I am sending this to my ex-Catholic cousin who is now a minister in his own acephalous Pentecostal store-front church. Good comments as well. For Donna, you may add what Jesus told the Saduccees: “God is not the God of the dead but of the living”
The judgment seat does belong to me. This is one of the classic errors of Catholicism. The Bible says, judgment begins in the house of God (1 Peter 4:17). It is my job to judge the Catholic church and that is why I left.
To judge right and wrong belongs to us, to consign people to hell belongs to Jesus. We may warn of danger, but not, as you do, say what will certainly happen. Stay on your lane.
You have still not addressed the points my article makes. You. Throw stones, you make unfounded accusations. But you do not address the points I raise. But this blog is not a forum for you to launder all your grievances and dubious theories, half truths etc, thus I edited that out and your thread must end. You are not interested in conversation but only seek a pulpit
We are all praying to the saints and Mary mother of God to intercede on your behalf so the Holy Spirit may enlighten you with the same unblinding epiphany that knocked the apostle Paul off his high horse.Perhapse he may become your patron saint to intercede always on your behalf. Join the family. It’s lonely being an only child.
Where is a horse mentioned? I think it’s in the same place as the apple.
In a protestant Bible study meeting once, I brought up one of your same points — another person mediating the gospel to someone. The room went silent. Kind of comical.
It seems that so many feel like its an obligation to attack,demean and try to undermine us billion or so catholics, so sad that they dont use all that time and energy to learn about our awesome faith they would be so shocked and hopefully edified to discover that our faith is bible based. We have everything. The WORD, sacred tradition , the sacraments and two thousand years of church history and lets not forget, JESUS S promise thats ” the gates of hell shall not prevail, against HIS church” amen alleluia amen
Sometimes Mary is called Co-Mediatrix. I understand that this remains a subordinated mediation as you describe, but the term is rather intimidating because it sounds rather exalted and, when misunderstood, makes it seem like Our Lady is equal and not subordinate as a mediator. One way to understand thistitle is that she mediated the Mediator to the world, and without her mediation the Mediator would not have been given us. No other person in history holds that role. The wedding at Cana demonstrates that her mediation did not stop at biological motherhood.
Yes the Church has resisted giving the title to her officially since it is so easily misunderstood
As Monsignor points out, the bible, especially the Gospels, are chalk full of subordinate mediation (apt phrase): Moses almost constantly interceding for the Israelites before God, the centurion “beseeching” help from Jesus for his servant, Jairus saying to Jesus, “Lord, my daughter is even now dead; but come, lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live,”–and Jesus helps Jairus–and that is just a quick up to chapter 9 in the Gospel of Matthew.
There are two concrete examples, at least, of subordinate mediation by both angels men in heaven, in the Book of Revelation:
Revelation 5:7-8 “7 He now came, and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne, 8 and when he disclosed it, the four living figures and the twenty-four elders fell down in the Lamb’s presence. Each bore a harp, and they had golden bowls full of incense, the prayers of the saints.”
Revelation 8:3-4 ” 3 There was another angel that came and took his stand at the altar, with a censer of gold; and incense was given him in plenty, so that he could make an offering on the golden altar before the throne, out of the prayers said by all the saints. 4 So, from the angel’s hand, the smoke of the incense went up in God’s presence, kindled by the saints’ prayer.”
Msgr., I am married to a Protestant who doesn’t have a problem with the mediation issue per se… only with mediation from the saints in heaven. His comment… “Mary is not omniscient. There is no way she can hear all the prayers being asked of her.”
Yes, and that is why I am clear the article that Christ must facilitate the communion of saints both on earth and in heaven. This is why mediation the Saints, or the sacred magisterium here on earth which is a capacity of the church to speak for Christ, must all be facilitated by Jesus himself who is the head of the body, the church. This to a mediation, absolutely requires Christ, the head. Any mediation apart from Christ, is no mediation at all.
As for those who say there is no scripture saying the Saints can hear us, neither is there any scripture proving they cannot hear us. Those who want to disprove this ancient Christian practice going back to the very earliest years of the church also have some burden of proof in demonstrating the scriptures prohibits the practice and or denying its efficacy. Lacking this, the church can only present that this is an ancient practice which has shown great fruitfulness down through two millennia. Those who forbid the practice, seem to be those who want to spy on the freedom we enjoy in Christ, and engage in a modern thinking, a novelty that was unknown to the ancient church namely that the church and Heaven is utterly isolated from the church on earth, this is not taught by Scripture, and seems contrary to the order of grace, and the many descriptions in Scripture, especially in Revelation of the church on earth being related to the church Heaven
The rebuttal is very simple. There is NO evidence that any person is in heaven other than Christ.
But once again, you are not answering any of the points I raised in the article. I did not discuss, nor did the original commenter raise the point about if the saints can hear us. Or who is or is not in heaven. That is a separate question and while I do speak to Some aspects of it the audibility question in this thread, it is not the point here which is to question if an absolute and univocal understanding of “One mediator” stands the test of reason. I argue it does not.
Please learn how to have a conversation Gerald. Speak to the issues raised and avoid going off on strange tangents. Again, this is not your pulpit to spout your anti-Catholic notions, and non Catholic notions. I am sorry you left the Church, but I have no wish to expose readers here to your incorrect notions. I have deleted your remarks about the Orthodox because they are inaccurate and impertinent to this discussion. It is certainly sad that you consider heaven empty.
What about the repentant thief on the cross next to Jesus? Surely he is in Heaven!
Can we assume that the rest of your proclamations are also poorly researched?
Gerald, please THINK! You are not the smartest person who ever lived. Why do you reject the teaching of this ancient Church over your own error-filled opinions? Do you really think you are smarter than Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, all the Popes, Peter Kreeft, Fr. Robert Spitzer??? Really? They are all 100% wrong, and YOU are the only one who knows the truth??? As if they’ve never read the Bible, but you know everything because you read it (except the part about the repentant thief… and maybe some other parts)?
Thank you. I downloaded your blog for future reference. This was too well developed to let it pass. Hopefully you won’t file charges against me.
We all need to pray for Gerald and others. It was quite clear that of the information allowed to be viewed by the Msgr, that somewhere in Gerald’s past something profound happened that has blinded him of truth and light. Pray that his bitterness mellows and someone touches his life so that he once again comes to love as Christ has taught.
I have spoken to people who give me this impression: getting an emotional response is winning the argument. The truth or falsehood of the premises or the conclusion is beside the point. If he can get an emotional response, especially anger, annoyance, or irritation, to his mind, he wins. Is Gerald one of those people? I don’t know. From Gerald’s last comment, he clearly isn’t familiar with the bible. Enoch and Elijah were taken up into heaven. Jesus speaks of people’s angels that are in heaven. The Book of Revelation, the present-tense part of it, is chock full of people and angels in heaven.
The teaching of the Catholic Church is stated in two Encyclicals of Pope Blessed John Paul II
THE REDEEMER OF MAN, Jesus Christ, is the centre of the universe and of history. To him go my thoughts and my heart in this solemn moment of the world that the Church and the whole family of present-day humanity are now living.
REDEMPTORIS MATER. On the Blessed Virgin Mary in the life of the Pilgrim Church
1. The Mother of the Redeemer has a precise place in the plan of salvation, for “when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!'” (Gal. 4:4-6)
With these words of the Apostle Paul, which the Second Vatican Council takes up at the beginning of its treatment of the Blessed Virgin Mary,1 I too wish to begin my reflection on the role of Mary in the mystery of Christ and on her active and exemplary presence in the life of the Church. For they are words which celebrate together the love of the Father, the mission of the Son, the gift of the Spirit, the role of the woman from whom the Redeemer was born, and our own divine filiation, in the mystery of the “fullness of time.”2
Both Encyclicals may be downloaded in pdf format from the Catholic Society.
I think the essence of Christianity can be encapsulated in the idea of “participation.” In other words, what Jesus is by nature is what we become by His grace! Jesus is the one Light of the world (cf. John 8.12), and yet we read in Matthew that we are the light of the world (5.14). How are we light if Jesus is the Light? By participation. We are light in the one Light.
Jesus is the only-begotten Son of God (John 1.14) and yet we become sons and daughters in the one Son of God (John 1.12).
Jesus wants to share with us all that He is. This is accomplished by His grace which gives us a participation in the very nature and the very inner life of God Himself (cf. 2 Peter 1.4). Our God is not a stingy god.
Similarly with the idea of mediatorship. Jesus is the one Mediator but He shares this with us.
Well-said – thank you!
Monsignor – you certainly have the patience of a saint in dealing with Gerald! Stay in your own lane, indeed! Thanks for such a cogent and well thought out reply. Very useful apologetics. God bless.
Gerald says he left the Catholic Church. He doesn’t say where he went to but it sounds like he went to some form of Protestantism. So I am puzzled by his statement that there is no evidence that anybody apart from Jesus is in Heaven. This seems to clash with whatever I have heard from Fundamentalist/Evangelical Protestants who all claim that they are guaranteed to be going to Heaven because they have ‘faith’. Indeed, don’t such Protestants commonly ask Catholics, “Are you saved?” ?” I thought it was the ‘knowledge’ that they are going to Heaven that gives them their fervour.
Thank you for this. I am a convert from Protestantism and also had the same struggle with this question. This type of argument (and you bring out all the faults and points that I had also wrestled with) brought me to two conclusions at the time: I had misconceptions of what Catholics believed and the Catholics had pretty good grounds to believe what they believe. In my conversion I recognized my prejudices for what they were, my misconceptions for what they were, my possibly “off” beliefs for what they were. Then I began to accept the Catholic message as relevant for Catholics, but not for me (This was my departure from the type of apologetics like your post). This was not a comfortable place as I was not much into religious relativism. One was either right and the other wrong. There could not be two contradictory objective truths “valid” under two apparently opposing subjective beliefs – logically impossible. Those truths held to be truths would not really be objectively independent of the person believing them to be true. They wouldn’t be objectively real. I didn’t believe in that “type” of truth.
In reality, there was fear. Fear that somehow accepting a belief like the intercession of the saints and of Mary would lead to sin and ruin my relationship with God. People in fear don’t always listen to logic. I had to have my fears addressed first. Was the intercession of the saints and of Mary a masked form of idolatry? The devil does masquerade as an angel of light. My fears where addressed first through subjective experience. I took a bold step and asked Mary to pray for me – my prayer was answered, instantly. Without details the essence of the prayer was to draw close to Jesus – I had never felt so close to Jesus since the day of my conversion to Christianity.
The next step was distancing myself from apologetics (not devaluing apologetics only pointing out it serves a limited purpose though useful if done correctly) and delving into actual Church teaching on the subject and to my surprise I was blown away by the simple and sublime truth found in Catholic doctrine. The heart of Christ’s unique and sole mediatorship is the incarnation. Fully God, fully man – One Person. No one unites these two natures in one Person, except Christ. Everything He did as a man He also did as God, therefore everything He did has infinite value. If Christ’s work has infinite value what implications does that have for those who participate in His work?
Most Protestants cannot deny that others share in the ministry of Christ which includes mediatorship and intercession. The real argument is not does anyone participate in Christ’s work, but to what extent do they participate in Christ’s work? And why do they ask, why did I ask? Because they are afraid – afraid that to the extent that Catholics claim the saints and especially Mary share in that ministry somehow diminishes the role of Christ – not objectively (Christ being God wouldn’t be God if something could diminish Him), but subjectively in the eyes of those who believe this (i.e. Catholics). They ultimately believe that this doctrine diminishes the role of Christ for those who believe it, therefore the conclusion is that those who believe this doctrine do not fulfill the justice demanded of a right relationship with God – they are not rendering proper worship to Christ.
But that is exactly why they shouldn’t be afraid – because Catholics do believe in and recognize the infinite value of Christ’s work – especially His mediation. If Christ’s work and therefore His merit are of infinite value He can share with whomever He wants – without ever making a dent! INFINITE = Nothing can diminish. Neither can anything compare.
The question then becomes: Does He actually share His work? A few Bible verses will suffice (1 Peter 4:13, 2 Corinthians 1:5, Romans 8:17, etc). More importantly this needs to be demonstrated. I simple, “is there anything I can pray for you about” goes a long way.
All Catholics must strive to establish this as not only what they believe, but what they practice. The belief in the infinite value of Christ’s work and the adoration due Him must be emphasized first and foremost in the conversation and the personal interaction with all Protestants. Rightfully, in the hierarchy of Catholic truth this takes precedence by asking the question: How does the intercession of the saints and of Mary draw you closer to Christ? Is Christ the center of your every desire, the beginning of your every thought, the end of your every action? Does Christ define who you are?
These are challenging questions.
Sorry to post again – but wouldn’t the story of the centurion in Matthew 8:5-13 be a good Biblical example of what you described as subordinate mediation? If so it would be a powerful one, considering Jesus’ comment, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith” (Mt. 8:10, NIV).
Thank you again Father. I love your posts. Usually I leave them for last, to savor.
A parish in my past had one of the longest main aisles in the diocese. The cantor usually had time to sing many verses to the Litany of the Saints. I loved it. Made me weep. As a convert I have found it useful to keep a Rosary close enough to my bed that in the dark watches of the night I can find comfort in the Crucifix and praying to God, to Jesus, and to our Blessed Mother. I take great comfort in saying a Hail Mary.
In addition to your great responsess stands the teachings of st. thomas aquinas wherein in summs theol 2:72 art2 says;(Job 5:1): “Call … if there be any that will answer thee, and turn to some of the saints.” Now, as Gregory says (Moralia v, 30) on this passage, “we call upon God when we beseech Him in humble prayer.” Therefore when we wish to pray God, we should turn to the saints, that they may pray God for us. also refer to an article in the catechism of thomas aquinaswhere he explains the prayer of the hail mary especially when he explains the phrase;the lord is with thee, he quotes st. bernard who coined the phrase Mary; mediatrix of all graces.
Enoch and Elijah were not taken up to heaven, at least not the heaven where God lives. There are three different heavens mentioned in the Bible. A person who knows Scripture would know this. So in typical fashion Catholics conflate all three heavens down to one. Bad Bible scholarship is exactly why I left the Catholic church. I would love to debate any Catholic in an open forum.
I think it has more to do with arrogance that you left. You merely equate your view with scholarship. The levels of heaven are complex and debated among scholars. You simplify and hold other outright errors. You are not an opponent to be taken seriously for these reasons.
“Levels of heaven are complex and debated among scholars.” True. My simple mind sees it this way regarding heaven. In heaven we will be like various sized glasses filled to the brim. Each person there will be perfectly happy, but some will be happier than others. The mystery is that God gives the increase. We cannot earn it.
Personally I pray that God will open my heart to receive His every grace.
Even if we take your definition of Heaven to exclude the place where Enoch and Elijah went, what about the repentant thief on the cross next to Jesus?
Hey, Gerald I perceive you look study your Bible with sun-glasses on, yes sun-glasses of pride, and as with one who looks at a bright source of light with sun-glasses on, yes, he sees the light but only a very dim one, not as bright as should be, are you scared? don’t worry the Light of God’s Grace does not have a blinding effect, take off your sun-glasses and look once more, just as a suggestion (I pray you get to read this),
read through Hebrews 11 (may seem irrelevant at the start), and afterwards consider what Hebrew 12:1 says “As for us we have this large crowd of witnesses round us…”, yes, the words “we have” is a present tense, but the
“large crowd of witnesses” the author of the Hebrews talks about are the Patriachs of old, they are dead, yet they constitute the “large crowd of witnesses round us”, now please ponder upon what Hebrews 12:22-24 has to tell you.
You made a claim here, that there is no proof that there is anyone in Heaven but Christ, but I think that passage falsifies your claims, for it says
“…you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” — that should be clearly understood to be the Heaven where God Almighty resides (no claims here for any other heavens but the Heaven where God resides is stated clearly); it goes on to say
“with its thousand of angels” — this is not needed, but it proves that the angels are there too (of course you should know this!); now it doesn’t end there, it goes on to say
“you have come to the joyful gathering of God’s firstborn, whose names are written in heaven” (now note, the heaven here should be the one where God resides, but the gathering I suppose should mean the Christians of that time), well, the passage still says
“you have come to God, who is judge of all people, and to the SPIRITS OF GOOD PEOPLE MADE PERFECT” — now I ask you who are these “good people made perfect”?, well, since they are with God that means they are in Heaven with Him too, Proof?
I pray this helps whoever is in need of it, but if it doesn’t, then what more should be expected from someone as stupid as I.
Pax et Caritas Christi.
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