Is an ear to chop off, probably. (Preferably someone else's.) Would someone please tell my nephew that he's going to hell posthaste? Please? I'd really appreciate it. I promise to repay the favor later. You know, after I die. And become a saint.
Oh, and while you're at it- maybe you could pray to St. What's-his-face for my sanctification. I'm obviously not quite there yet.
Where's my upside down cross? Where are my wife and family? What if I die here? Don't wanna end up a cartoon in a cartoon graveyard.
*Ahem!* And, etc.
A good article on this by Jimmy Akin:http://www.cin.org/users/james/files/praying.htmwodamark Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 5:55 am #
Dawn, congrats for discovering the wonders of our brothers and sisters in Christ in heaven. The saints are a gift to us here on earth from God. You've gained a wonderful understanding of the saints, one of which will sure develop even further over time. More importantly, you've been given the gift of words from God to articulate your understanding much better than most.Thank you very much for sharing.cathy Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 6:09 am #
...I believed the dead had better things to do than pray for the living...On that note I thought of St. Thereses, who said before she died that she "would spend her heaven doing good on Earth"She has been true to her word."Think of it as though you were asking a friend to pray for you."I never think of this as pre-programmed. Just last week I used similar words in response to a Jewish friend who told me that "Catholics worship saints."It has always seemed the easiest way to explain the process of asking for intercession.Mpav Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 7:29 am #
Dawn, There is a man who appears on EWTN periodically- his name is Bob Fishman, and he is a Jewish convert to the Catholic faith. Happened to catch him one day explaining that praying to the saints has its roots in a Jewish tradition where on a holy day (I'm sorry that I don't remember which one), the Jewish people ask their dead loved ones to pray for them. Is this familiar to you, or is it a tradition that is no longer practiced? I had not heard that before, but it made sense, considering the roots of Christianity.Faith Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 8:58 am #
In RCIA, when we got to this part of the proceedings, I thought that my low-Methodist mind was going to do a computer shutdown. It was very hard for me to open my mind and really listen to what was being said. I'm so glad I did.Emily Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 9:46 am #
excellent...[tents fingers mischievously]Angus Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 10:00 am #
In all seriousness, you might want to consider seeing the new Danny Boyle film "Millions", which is a good (although a little irreverent) narrative explanation of the inner workings of the Communion of Saints.Angus Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 10:03 am #
Thank you Dawn for that amazing post.Ben Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 10:45 am #
As someone else (Mark Shea?) once said, "The saints are more alive than you and me." If you believe in life after death, especially life with Jesus, the argument that "the saints are dead" doesn't hold any water at all.Michelle K. Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 11:06 am #
Beautiful post. Good writin', too. I think people are amazed when they spend some time with a good resource about saints, that there is ALWAYS one whose story will jump out at them. That's the one they should take a good look at, and, if they're uncomfortable, start by thanking God for that saint's inspiration. The conversation usually follows from there.Therese Z Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 12:04 pm #
Dead to this world but alive in Christ. I am happy for you Dawn. Your writing and stand for righteousness make you very much a living saint. Then again I have been priviledged to meet many living saints with a breathing faith that shines forth in a very dark world. Those who love God shine brighter than anything on the planet.Alnot Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 12:18 pm #
I'm approaching this from a different angle.I've been in many situations in my life where I've had to say, "That's why God created [here list something that's not in the Book of Genesis]."In this case, you found out about St. Maximillian through the Internet, and I can say, "That's why God created HTML and hyperlinking."And you're going to say, "Well what about Tim Berners-Lee and CERN and the W3C and all that?" And I'll tell 'em -- "Hey, they wouldn't have been here without the Prime Mover, so He's the one in charge."Patrick McGrath Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 12:27 pm #
Hi Dawn,I enjoy your blog a lot, but I am a little confused. Are you a convert to Catholicism? I know you are a Christian, but wasn't sure if you had crossed the Tiber. I am kind of a johnny-come-lately to this board, so I just wanted to know the background. *g*Leslie Fain Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 12:30 pm #
Hey Dawn,My curiosity has been piqued. : )This particular divergence between the Christian (read: protestant) and Catholic faiths has always intrigued me. Why would we be "more comfortable" talking to dead humans than talking to God (who, coincidently took a stint as a dead human)? Is God scary? Or is he too busy? If he feels more distant than dead humans then he's not really much of a "personal God." And how does it foster a sense of "personal God"ness if you aren't even talking to him?Hebrews says something about it:Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16Last question (I swear): Didn't Christ say, "There is no way to the Father but by me" and how does that gel with getting through to God via his saints living or dead?If I had my choice in any situation to ask a saint to hop on over to God and whisper in his ear or just talking to God directly, I would choose the latter. Skip the middle man.k_sra Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 12:38 pm #
Leslie, I'm swimming.Dawn Eden Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 12:38 pm #
Some Catholics may not agree, but I will throw this out as a little "Saint fodder":When asked by someone considering becoming Catholic why they would pray to a saint instead of God himself, our dear Priest (an Irish immigrant and perhaps the kindest man I have ever met) said this:"Ya know when you're at work and a job has come open that you'd really like? Well, perhaps you have a very good friend who works right up there in the top office with the big boss. You might ask that friend to help you out, to put in a good word. After all, they work right up there, just under the big boss. So they're your friend and want to help you, so they go talk to the boss at the copy machine about this friend of theirs who works down below. About how they know how good this friend would be for the position. Saints, they're like that. They're closer to the top and a friend who will help you."Jo Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 12:54 pm #
Dawn, (and everyone else)I concur wholeheartedly with k_sra. I don't know for sure whether it is right or wrong to talk to saints. Personally I believe that those who have gone on to heaven aren't in the business of talking to us, but are probably more busy worshipping and communing with Jesus. I've always believed that God is not to small or too busy to hear all of our prayers, as that is His desire, to communicate with us. How can we grow closer to God if we feel that we don't have access to Him? If the Bible does forbid praying to the saints, it is found in 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, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. Praying directly to the Father is not only acceptable, it's our right and our privelege, and His desire.Steve Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 12:57 pm #
Faith, I don't pretend to be the last word on what all Jews do, but I am a Jew of Conservative-Orthodox tradition, and I was blessed with a great Jewish education. (I am also a believer in Yeshua.) I feel qualified to respond to your question about Jews praying to the dead. I think Bob Fishman was speaking of "Yizkor", a special prayer service in memory of the dead, which is prayed on the second day of each of the three festivals and also on Yom Kippur. These prayers in no way communicate with the dead, but are meant to praise God in all circumstances and also comfort the living.RRR Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 1:18 pm #
Catholics do pray directly to God. I think many people forget that. We do all the time. We pray for things, we pray for people, we pray for stregnth, we pray to praise him.But the saints - oh the saints - we ask to pray with us and for us. Back to that friend analogy again - but it is true.The saints are not God. All miracles worked through their intercession are from God - not from the saints themselves.God gives us a lot of things. One of them is an eternal family. You may or may not have any family members here on earth, but we are never alone because of our brothers and sisters alive in Christ.Think of it this way, we always can and should pray to God. It is pretty inconceivable to pray and ask a saint for an intercession unless you're praying to God for the same thing. They are not mutually exclusive.In a family, the head of the family can control the fate of the children. Do the children always go to the father? Can't some insight be learned from the older brothers and sisters that came before you?The saints are a gift from God. God is a gift from God. We like to work both sides of the fence --- pray from earth and ask are brothers and sisters to pray for us in heaven.From the bible via biblegateway.com :Revelation 5:8 (New American Standard Bible)New American Standard Bible (NASB)"8When He had taken the book, the (A)four living creatures and the (B)twenty-four elders (C)fell down before the (D)Lamb, each one holding a (E)harp and (F)golden bowls full of incense, which are the (G)prayers of the saints. "Revelation 8:2-4 (New American Standard Bible) 2And I saw (A)the seven angels who stand before God, and seven (B)trumpets were given to them. 3(C)Another angel came and stood at the (D)altar, holding a (E)golden censer; and much (F)incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the (G)prayers of all the saints on the (H)golden altar which was before the throne. 4And (I)the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel's hand. We don't make this stuff up. I recommend Scott Hahn's study of the book of Revelations - can't remember the name of it though. When he was in the process of further studying his faith as a Protestant, we was intensly studying the Book of Revelations. Then he attended an average ordinary daily mass at Marquette University. As he was sitting there during mass, the Book of Revelations opened up before him. It pretty well shook him. Get his books and tapes, he can explain things much better than I can from memory. Besides, I'm not much for words.Cathy Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 1:29 pm #
A wonderful piece, Dawn. I can only say the thing that got me interested first in Catholicism was reading The Oxford Lives of the Saints. At the time I was a big ancient and medievel history buff and wanted to find out more about the people of the period. But some of the lives - like that of Francis and Clare, Justin Martyr and Polycarp, Perpetua and Felicity and many more just overwhelmed me in their beauty and steadfastness that I was determined to explore the faith they lived for more thoroughly. And I still love the Saints - I aspire to be one myself (as should we all).JB3 Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 1:40 pm #
First, a reply to Dawn's "Leslie, I'm swimming.:That's awesome, Dawn! You might be interested in reading Scott Hahn's Rome Sweet Home—a good read for Catholics and non-Catholics alike.Second, a reply to Cathy's "I recommend Scott Hahn's study of the book of Revelations - can't remember the name of it though.:The book is entitled The Lamb's Supper—a good read for anyone.Basically, I recommend anyone; Catholic or not, to read any Scott Hahn book, the Catholic Catechism (it has answers for almost any problem, but is more of a philosophical book), and anthing from Peter Kreeft or James Akin (from Catholic Answers).Jeff Geerling Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 1:50 pm #
of course i pray to God directly, in all of the Trinitarian forms ... and i reflect on the scripture passages where i am encouraged to keep knocking of the door, or to keep hounding the judge, or to persist in my prayer ... so i figure it can't hurt to get a few of my friends to knock and hound and pray with / for me, too ...uncle jim Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 1:54 pm #
Steve, k_sra, please give Dawn some space.For my part, I find heaven even more "real" and more glorious with the supposition that we are to have useful work to do once there; if aiding others in reaching God is the best work anyone can do here on earth, why would it be against His will in heaven?As to why one would find a saint more amenable to approach than God Himself, holy things and holy people are intrinsically awe-ful. There's a reason that the angels are always telling people "be not afraid" -- in the biblical accounts, most recipients of divine encounters were about to soil themselves. We instinctively know it's wrong to see God and launch into a hearty howzit-going-Jesus-put-er-there. This is not a bad thing: "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."Of course Jesus was very God and very man, but he was also tempted and did not sin; it's probably easier for some to strike up a dialogue with one who was "only" human and who struggled with sin before being sanctified. Just because we can go directly to God and should become close enough to Him to do so does not mean that God fails to appreciate the gulf between His holiness and those who find Him unapproachable. Be glad that He is merciful and continues to give us saints to model holiness in ways our limited perception can grasp. No Christian asks a saint to intercede for them without understanding that the true end of both the saint's devotion and their own is the same one God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.craig Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 2:08 pm #
Be cautious, Dawn. In some ways, you have been isolated. I'll just have to trust our loving Father to guide you, and I know you do the same.kdip Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 2:11 pm #
Isolated from whom?Dawn has discovered a central aspect of the great Western spiritual tradition. Ther saints are not dead, they are more alive than you or I. And they love us more than you or I can imagine because they are fully united with the beatific vision. The true isolation would be to remain cut off from the Great Western Mystical Tradition which is our heritage.True isolation is to deny (or water down) communion of the saints.Tex Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 2:27 pm #
"Any friend of God's is a friend of mine." Didn't GK Chesterton say something once about not disenfranchising our fellow Christians just because they happened to be dead? I don't remember if he was talking about tradition or the communion of saints, but that concept has stuck in my brain ever since.alicia Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 3:26 pm #
Am listening to Father Leo Clifford on EWTN right now- he is talking about God's plan for us- and he mentioned that God can see us now, and also in the future, with Him, singing and giving glory to Christ along with the angels and saints.Just wanted to share my happy, anticipatory goosebumps.Faith Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 3:38 pm #
Could it be that all believers in Jesus are saints? That is what my Bible teaches. It uses the word "saints" synonymously with "the church." Nowhere does it teach anything about beatification or canonization of individuals. Nor is there precedent in the Bible about the need to have anybody communicate with God on your behalf, except for the priesthood in the Old Testament, which was done away with when the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom as Jesus was on the cross, allowing us all to have direct access to God. My own father in is heaven right now, among all the saints. Exactly what he is doing at the moment, I don't know. And as much as I miss him and wish I could speak directly to him, when I have a God-sized need, I need nobody else, on earth or in heaven, to talk to God on my behalf.If someone can show me chapter and verse where it is accpectable to talk to those who have gone on, I would like to know. As for the "communion of the saints," the Bible is talking about the fellowship of believers, a la Hebrews 10:24,25 "and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.I don't wish to be confrontational with anyone, and have no hostility toward anyone in regards to their theology. I'm a sinner saved by grace as are the rest of the family of believers, and fortunately, we don't have to pass an exam when we die to make sure we all have our theology straight, but we do all need to examine what the Bible says about such things, not just what some well-meaning people have taught us.Steve Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 4:02 pm #
Well said Steve and the Bible as the Word of God is always the best authority. The Holy Spirit is the life of the Word and I have never seen the two conflict. (unless there is add ons or poor translation) The truth in love to my fellow believers who are indeed called saints.Alnot Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 4:24 pm #
Steve, when the one lost sinner is found/saved, who contributes to the "more rejoicing in heaven than on earth?" Read up earlier; who are the elders gathered round the throne with the golden bowls of incense, which are the prayers of the saints (there's the use of the word saints to mean us earthly people)? Read up earlier: who is no longer dead, but alive in Christ?Early Christians scratched images and words on the catacombs: "Jesus fish," doves, and "pray for us" and the person's name. Christians understood this as early as Nero's persecution of them. You've sore need to read a little Church history. Read the times around 80-120 AD: it would help you get an image of a sacramental, hierarchical church who felt a communion with the dead. At that time, the Bible wasn't compiled yet; heck, the ink wasn't dry on John's gospel! They operated on their lived experience and the direct testimony of the Apostles to them.Therese Z Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 4:35 pm #
Steve, Thank you for expressing the Reform view. Yes, it is hard to understand the Catholic tradition of "praying to" saints, but it is helpful to learn as much as we can about outstanding saints, those who suffered for Christ and ran the good race. I can understand how it must be wonderful to meditate on the lives of a particular saint and to identify strongly with him or her. Perhaps we can have an inner dialogue with that saint, think of how he or she would respond to us and our plight. What would he or she say to encourage us? In the past, as a beleaguered single mother, sometimes feeling that there was no one with whom I could share my pain, I have imagined the Blessed Mother as a comforting Jewish mother, bidding me to sit down in her kitchen, giving me a hug and hot soup.Nevertheless, I can't help but think that I will be so busy worshipping the Lamb in heaven that I will not be looking down at all...that is, unless the Lord tells me to...RRR Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 4:38 pm #
Other implicit Scripture references: Every knee above the earth and under the earth shall bow at the name of the Lord. And He is the one from whom every family in Heaven and on earth takes its name. Heaven is clearly populated by sentient beings. I think non-Catholics worry that Catholics are neglecting Jesus. On the contrary; we're being shown even more aspects of His Mercy and Grace by His saints!Therese Z Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 4:42 pm #
Dawn, you said:"Kolbe became, for me, what I believe the saints are for other believers as well—God with skin on. Because I believed that the saint understood completely what I was going through—including persecution, fear, self-doubt, and guilt—I believed that God understood them too."You have just described the role of Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ alone. "For there is one God and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ." (1 Tim 2.5) And look at Luke 16.19-31. There isn't cross-talk between Heaven and earth that way. There is no biblical foundation for assuming that a single Polish man, or a single Palatinian Jewish woman for that matter, now in Heaven have the ability to understand all the languages of the earth and hear and respond to the prayers of thousands or millions of people on earth. We become joined with God as heirs in Christ, we don't become omniscient like God when we get to heaven. I know this is one of the major sticky places between Christians and Catholics, though many on both sides don't make good arguments for or against. The analogies fail, though. If I had a friend who could "talk to the boss" for me, but I had a private entrance to the boss' office anytime day or night and the boss understod me perfectly and completely and loved me purely, what do I care about the friend who knows the boss? This is the use of idols as intermediaries and it detracts from the relationship with God at best and is more likely just sinful. Imagining Mary comforting you is turning to a false comfort. That is the role of God alone. Can anyone find me a clear biblical description of prayer to someone other than God that wasn't rewarded with judgment?There is so much more that I could say but I'll hold my tongue here.DJO Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 5:02 pm #
Steve: " I need nobody else, on earth or in heaven, to talk to God on my behalf."This is honest and truthful sentiment. It your deep faith and love of God.Does this faith and love of God mean that you would not ask others to pray for you? I would certainly hope not.We're not running this race alone. We've got a cheering section in heaven comprised of people who have run the race and won. This is not a solitary journy we are running. Salvation is a family affair. Yes, all salvation in through Christ. And I thank God we have the prayers and examples of the saints in heaven (including, I pray, your father!) to encourage us and lead us to that heavenly goal.Tex Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 5:09 pm #
You also might consider looking up the life of Saint Teresa Benedicta (Edith Stein). She was a Jewish convert from atheism who died in a concentration during WWII. She was a brilliant scholar who trained under phenomenology and converted after reading St. Teresa of Avila's biography. She later entered a comptemplative Carmelite convent where she was later taken by the Germans in reprisal for the Bishops speaking out against Nazi Germany.Jeff Miller Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 5:22 pm #
Catholics are Christians.Faith Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 5:24 pm #
Another way to think about it is that my prayers for myself and those I love (and my enemies) are imperfect, because I get distracted, I sin, I have to attend to daily tasks, etc. So it's not that the connection to God has problems on his end, since he loves me and is always listening; rather, it's on my end where the line breaks up sometimes. If I ask a saint--a fellow believer either on earth or in heaven--to pray for me, he or she can put in some prayers on my behalf at those moments when I'm too busy or thoughtless or angry to pray myself. Of course, I should also try to get better at praying to God Himself.s. Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 5:25 pm #
Would having a picture of a dear, departed grandmother or family member also be considered idolatry?Faith Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 5:26 pm #
"one who calls up the dead. " -- This passage refers to people who were actually calling up dead folks. If Maximillian Kolbe were to appear to me, I'm afraid I'd soil myself.1 Tim 2.5 -- If you’re to take this literalisticaly (new word: it means like a literalist), it means you cannot ask your friends or neighbors to pray for you. Every time you pray for someone, every time you witness, you are a mediator between God and people. Asking one person to pray for you in no way violates Christ’s mediatorship, as can be seen from considering the way in which Christ is a mediator. First, Christ is a unique mediator between man and God because he is the only person who is both God and man. He is the only bridge between the two, the only God-man. But that role as mediator is not compromised in the least by the fact that others intercede for us. Furthermore, Christ is a unique mediator between God and man because he is the Mediator of the New Covenant (Heb. 9:15, 12:24), just as Moses was the mediator (Greek mesitas) of the Old Covenant (Gal. 3:19–20). Christ clearly wants us to pray for eachother: "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and pleasing to God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:1–4).The Bible directs us to invoke those in heaven and ask them to pray with us. Thus in Psalms 103, we pray, "Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word! Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers that do his will!" (Ps. 103:20-21). And in Psalms 148 we pray, "Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his host!" (Ps. 148:1-2). Not only do they pray WITH us, they pray FOR us: "[An] angel came and stood at the altar [in heaven] with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne; and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God" (Rev. 8:3-4). And they seem to know, in heaven, what we pray for: "the twenty-four elders [the leaders of the people of God in heaven] fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints" (Rev. 5:8). Here the term "saints" refers to believers on earth if read in context.Yes, people who die in a state of grace, like a grandfather, and have no disordered affections are in heaven and are "saints". The Catholic church keeps a list of SOME of them (ones they know of). There's lots more, I'm sure. People who die in a state of grace and have disordered affecions spend time in a process known as purgation. "He will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire" (1 Cor 3:15). This has Jewish roots as well. Orthodox Jews today, who recite a prayer known as the Mourner’s Kaddish for eleven months after the death of a loved one so that the loved one may be purified. Lots more if you want to look for it!John J. Simmins Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 5:28 pm #
God had no problem sending angels as messengers- in the Old and New Testaments. Now, I'm sure he was capable of doing it Himself, but, as He has no hands but our hands...Faith Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 5:28 pm #
Wow! Don't take my word for it! Here's lots of stuff from Catholic.com:Hermas"[The Shepherd said:] ‘But those who are weak and slothful in prayer, hesitate to ask anything from the Lord; but the Lord is full of compassion, and gives without fail to all who ask him. But you, [Hermas,] having been strengthened by the holy angel [you saw], and having obtained from him such intercession, and not being slothful, why do not you ask of the Lord understanding, and receive it from him?’" (The Shepherd 3:5:4 [A.D. 80]). Clement of Alexandria"In this way is he [the true Christian] always pure for prayer. He also prays in the society of angels, as being already of angelic rank, and he is never out of their holy keeping; and though he pray alone, he has the choir of the saints standing with him [in prayer]" (Miscellanies 7:12 [A.D. 208]). Origen"But not the high priest [Christ] alone prays for those who pray sincerely, but also the angels . . . as also the souls of the saints who have already fallen asleep" (Prayer 11 [A.D. 233]). Cyprian of Carthage"Let us remember one another in concord and unanimity. Let us on both sides [of death] always pray for one another. Let us relieve burdens and afflictions by mutual love, that if one of us, by the swiftness of divine condescension, shall go hence first, our love may continue in the presence of the Lord, and our prayers for our brethren and sisters not cease in the presence of the Father’s mercy" (Letters 56:5 [A.D. 253]). Anonymous"Atticus, sleep in peace, secure in your safety, and pray anxiously for our sins" (funerary inscription near St. Sabina’s in Rome [A.D. 300]). "Pray for your parents, Matronata Matrona. She lived one year, fifty-two days" (ibid.). "Mother of God, [listen to] my petitions; do not disregard us in adversity, but rescue us from danger" (Rylands Papyrus 3 [A.D. 350]). Methodius"Hail to you for ever, Virgin Mother of God, our unceasing joy, for to you do I turn again. You are the beginning of our feast; you are its middle and end; the pearl of great price that belongs to the kingdom; the fat of every victim, the living altar of the Bread of Life [Jesus]. Hail, you treasure of the love of God. Hail, you fount of the Son’s love for man. . . . You gleamed, sweet gift-bestowing Mother, with the light of the sun; you gleamed with the insupportable fires of a most fervent charity, bringing forth in the end that which was conceived of you . . . making manifest the mystery hidden and unspeakable, the invisible Son of the Father—the Prince of Peace, who in a marvelous manner showed himself as less than all littleness" (Oration on Simeon and Anna 14 [A.D. 305]). "Therefore, we pray [ask] you, the most excellent among women, who glories in the confidence of your maternal honors, that you would unceasingly keep us in remembrance. O holy Mother of God, remember us, I say, who make our boast in you, and who in august hymns celebrate the memory, which will ever live, and never fade away" (ibid.). "And you also, O honored and venerable Simeon, you earliest host of our holy religion, and teacher of the resurrection of the faithful, do be our patron and advocate with that Savior God, whom you were deemed worthy to receive into your arms. We, together with you, sing our praises to Christ, who has the power of life and death, saying, ‘You are the true Light, proceeding from the true Light; the true God, begotten of the true God’" (ibid.). Cyril of Jerusalem"Then [during the Eucharistic prayer] we make mention also of those who have already fallen asleep: first, the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, that through their prayers and supplications God would receive our petition . . . " (Catechetical Lectures 23:9 [A.D. 350]). Hilary of Poitiers"To those who wish to stand [in God’s grace], neither the guardianship of saints nor the defenses of angels are wanting" (Commentary on the Psalms 124:5:6 [A.D. 365]). Ephraim the Syrian"You victorious martyrs who endured torments gladly for the sake of the God and Savior, you who have boldness of speech toward the Lord himself, you saints, intercede for us who are timid and sinful men, full of sloth, that the grace of Christ may come upon us, and enlighten the hearts of all of us so that we may love him" (Commentary on Mark [A.D. 370]). "Remember me, you heirs of God, you brethren of Christ; supplicate the Savior earnestly for me, that I may be freed through Christ from him that fights against me day by day" (The Fear at the End of Life [A.D. 370]). The Liturgy of St. Basil"By the command of your only-begotten Son we communicate with the memory of your saints . . . by whose prayers and supplications have mercy upon us all, and deliver us for the sake of your holy name" (Liturgy of St. Basil [A.D. 373]). Pectorius"Aschandius, my father, dearly beloved of my heart, with my sweet mother and my brethren, remember your Pectorius in the peace of the Fish [Christ]" (Epitaph of Pectorius [A.D. 375]). Gregory of Nazianz"May you [Cyprian] look down from above propitiously upon us, and guide our word and life; and shepherd this sacred flock . . . gladden the Holy Trinity, before which you stand" (Orations 17 [A.D. 380]). "Yes, I am well assured that [my father’s] intercession is of more avail now than was his instruction in former days, since he is closer to God, now that he has shaken off his bodily fetters, and freed his mind from the clay that obscured it, and holds conversation naked with the nakedness of the prime and purest mind . . . " (ibid., 18:4). Gregory of Nyssa"[Ephraim], you who are standing at the divine altar [in heaven] . . . bear us all in remembrance, petitioning for us the remission of sins, and the fruition of an everlasting kingdom" (Sermon on Ephraim the Syrian [A.D. 380]). John Chrysostom"He that wears the purple [i.e., a royal man] . . . stands begging of the saints to be his patrons with God, and he that wears a diadem begs the tentmaker [Paul] and the fisherman [Peter] as patrons, even though they be dead" (Homilies on Second Corinthians 26 [A.D. 392]). "When you perceive that God is chastening you, fly not to his enemies . . . but to his friends, the martyrs, the saints, and those who were pleasing to him, and who have great power [in God]" (Orations 8:6 [A.D. 396]). Ambrose of Milan"May Peter, who wept so efficaciously for himself, weep for us and turn towards us Christ’s benign countenance" (The Six Days Work 5:25:90 [A.D. 393]). Jerome"You say in your book that while we live we are able to pray for each other, but afterwards when we have died, the prayer of no person for another can be heard. . . . But if the apostles and martyrs while still in the body can pray for others, at a time when they ought still be solicitous about themselves, how much more will they do so after their crowns, victories, and triumphs?" (Against Vigilantius 6 [A.D. 406]). Augustine"A Christian people celebrates together in religious solemnity the memorials of the martyrs, both to encourage their being imitated and so that it can share in their merits and be aided by their prayers" (Against Faustus the Manichean [A.D. 400]). "There is an ecclesiastical discipline, as the faithful know, when the names of the martyrs are read aloud in that place at the altar of God, where prayer is not offered for them. Prayer, however, is offered for the dead who are remembered. For it is wrong to pray for a martyr, to whose prayers we ought ourselves be commended" (Sermons 159:1 [A.D. 411]). "At the Lord’s table we do not commemorate martyrs in the same way that we do others who rest in peace so as to pray for them, but rather that they may pray for us that we may follow in their footsteps" (Homilies on John 84 [A.D. 416]). "Neither are the souls of the pious dead separated from the Church which even now is the kingdom of Christ. Otherwise there would be no remembrance of them at the altar of God in the communication of the Body of Christ" (The City of God 20:9:2 [A.D. 419]).John J. Simmins Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 5:31 pm #
Most of the objections I've encountered from reform circles spting from the belief that prayer is the same as worship. If one understands prayer to be synonymous with worship it makes sense that prayer to a saint would, in fact be a form of idolatry.For Catholics prayer is an element of worship, but it is most certainly not worship itself. For Catholics, worship involves sacrifice.It is worth noting that this understanding of worship is not new. It is common to all apostolic churches (75% of Christians today). Hence the objection that praying to saints is a form of idolatry is a red herring because it is based on a minsunderstanding of Catholic worship.Tex Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 5:51 pm #
Steve, k_sra, and others, you might be interested in my first experience in praying to saints. I was a good Baptist, at the time and of course knew nothing about praying to saints. I was also very frustrated with my life as a single, and had been praying to God for an answer. Finally, out sheer desperation, I cried out "Bunny, you are up there. Can you get me an answer." (Bunny being the nickname of my late grandmother, and whom I knew had been a godly woman.) While I didn't get an answer right , I did feel better. At that time, I was still getting the answer, "Not yet." (and that was the only answer for me at that time, because I was not ready for the final one.)At least for some of us, it comes almost naturally.Anna Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 6:55 pm #
Swimming the Tiber? Wouldn't Horatio let you across the bridge?Michael Bates Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 7:04 pm #
Alright, Dawn! I am excited for you. I am convert, too.Leslie Fain Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 7:53 pm #
As they say, non-Catholic Christians get to study the menu, Catholics get to enjoy the whole meal! (I think I read that in Scott Hahn's "Rome Sweet Rome" :-)Here are the words of Evelyn Waugh (in regard to his favorite book, "Helena," which is about Constantine's mother St. Helena and her search for the true Cross): "Saints are simply souls in heaven. Some people are so sensationally holy in life that we know they went straight to heaven and so put them in the [litugical] calendar. We all have to become saints before we get to heaven. That is what purgatory is for. And each individual has his own form of sanctity which he must achieve or perish. It is no good my saying, 'I wish I was like Joan of Arc or St. John of the Cross.' I can only be St. Evelyn Waugh--after God knows what experiences in purgatory."I liked Helena's sanctity because it is in contrast to all that moderns think of as sanctity. She wasn't thrown to the lions, she wasn't a contemplative, she didn't look like an El Greco. She just discovered what it was God had chosen for her to do and did it. And she snubbed Aldous Huxley, with his perennial fog, by going straight to the essential physical historial fact of the redemption." Good luck and God bless you Dawn! The prayers of your friends (including the saints) seem to be paying off for you, big time :-)Cheryl Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 8:32 pm #
I suppose I ought to begin by noting that I don't think anyone ever has or ever will be lost because they chose to pray through ("to" might be an entirely different matter, but that does not seem to be the question being debated)those canonized by the Roman church. I am concerned only with whether the practice can be reasonably deemed correct and with how you've chosen to begin. The whole thing might properly be deemed none of my business, and upon your request that I leave you alone, I'll leave you alone. Now to business:Firstly, in having decided to try this practice, you seem to have abandoned the relentlessly logical methodology that allows you to discern the truth about Planned Parenthood and its ilk. Repeatedly, your reasons for trying this and continuing in it come down to how you feel or felt. You say, "But there are no atheists in foxholes. I had a strong *feeling*..." and "Several things about Kolbe's life touched me deeply..."; next, "...as I prayed I immediately began to feel a sense of peace." Next, "*Through becoming emotionally intimate* with a saint—or, as a skeptic would say, with my image of who a saint was...". Then, we have, "...Jesus, despite His humanity, still seems much larger than life." Then, "Yet I felt more comfort...". The theme continues throughout the post with sufficient vivacity to make it clear: this was an emotionally-based decision. Nothing wrong with the emotions God gave us, of course, but has the way you *feel* now become your test of whether or not something is true? If a Mormon testified to you of his "burning in the bosom," would you not be among the first advising him that feelings are not always a good guide to what is real? If your good feelings about this practice are now your standard of truth, how will you respond to the Buddhist, the Mormon, the New Ager, or even the atheist when he says that his belief is verified by how he feels? Secondly, DJO's point about the omnipresence of the saints--though not phrased the way I would have--is actually quite good. The fact is that barring the possibility of the saints having picked up the tricks of omnipresence and glossolalia, there is not one good reason for supposing that the esteemed Mr. Kolbe ever heard a word you spoke. He may have been listening to someone else, engaged in worship, or possibly any number of things, but it is--forgive me for bluntness--a leap of fantastic dimensions to suppose that he was able to hear and pay attention to your prayer. The point has often been made in this discussion that asking a departed saint to pray for you is no different than asking one of your friends to pray for you. All right, then, try it: ask me to pray for you, if it is no different than asking one of the saints to do it. But without picking up the phone or e-mailing me, it is an absurd thought, is it not? It is absurd because I am not there and I cannot hear you. Omnipresence is an attribute of God and God alone. To pray to a departed saint is to assume omnipresence on his part, to ascribe an attribute of deity to him. Is it easier to see from that how so many Protestants equate this practice with idolatry? How have you thought about what it means to be omnipresent? It means that God is not less present in one place than He is in every other place. He is fully present with you and with me at the same time. It is perfectly true to say that I have God's undivided attention, and that Dawn Eden has God's undivided attention. It is not possible to divide the infinite. Think about that, Dawn: you have the undivided attention of the creator of the universe at this very moment. He is closer to you than your next heartbeat. He died specifically to remove the barrier between the two of you, so that you could draw closer to Him. And now this friend, this one who "personifies love" is "too large" to draw close to? Thirdly, is this how Jesus taught you to pray? Or did you receive the same instruction the disciples did? If praying through deceased saints is the preferred method, the Lord's Prayer (given, it must be noted, in direct response to the disciples' request for prayer instruction) contains an odd omission!There are other things that I can't help but wonder about. You seem to attribute your answered prayers to intercession from Mr. Kolbe, novenas by Dimitri, and the prayers of Maureen. No one else seems to enter into your thinking. Dawn, you are growing ever more widely read, and there are no doubt hundreds of people praying for you, for all these things. I've done it myself. How is it that it seems more rational to attribute the answered prayers to Kolbe than to the collective prayers of all those people here on earth who care so deeply about you?Does it not seem amazing to you that the very same people who insisted so staunchly that *no one* apart from God could know whether or not someone made it into Heaven seem to *know* that Rome's canonized saints are in Heaven, listening to you? By their own words, they *cannot* know--and *you* cannot know--whether Mr. Kolbe is even there! To maintain the one position, they must give up the other.Regarding Mr. Geerling's point that, "We are in no way detracting from God's glory when we ask saints or Mary for help—for they are part of God's creation...", I must reply that asking parts of God's creation to do what they are neither designed to do nor tasked to do, assuming attributes of deity on their part, is indeed to detract from God's Glory.As far as the verses in Revelation depicting the prayers of the saints as incense rising before God, it must first be pointed out that the "saints" in question are quite certainly not just those canonized by Rome, but the whole community of those who believe in God. The Greek word is hagios, or hagion in the plural. This usage, consistent throughout the New Testament, is made more clear in Colossians 1:2, where "saints" and "brothers and sisters in Christ" are explicitly equated: "...to the saints, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ...". Therefore, attempts to use these verses to demonstrate that the incense originates with those canonized by Rome are weak at best. Of course, there are some who will say that I've missed the point--that Rome's saints fulfill the role that the angels and elders play here, that of holding or carrying the incense, or prayers. But that doesn't help, since the incense itself is specifically defined as *being* the prayers of the saints. This leads to the absurd idea that Rome's saints carry the prayers of Rome's saints (!). Nowhere in the text are we given the idea that *any* of the prayers of the saints--Rome's or anyone else's--were addressed to God through the medium of either the angels or the elders. This is a man-made idea foreign to the text.Regarding the voluminous citations of earlier Christians (which had the perhaps unexpected effect of encouraging me to write this overlong comment), I can't help but note that even Rome hasn't recognized these writings as having canonical authority, so why bother bringing them up? If it is to prove that early Christians sometimes prayed through departed believers, I reply that early Christians made a lot of other errors, too--quite a lot of the New Testament was written to *correct* their errors--so their belief, if not supported by Scripture, is not worth a plugged nickel more than *my* opinion.Dawn, when looking into these things, have you looked any more deeply into the Reformed position than is evident from these blog comments? Do you genuinely think at this point that you have explored both points of view thoroughly and fairly? Have you contrasted the canons of the Council of Trent with the Westminster Confession? And examined both of those to see how they square with Scripture? wouldn't it be wise to take the time to do so? Isn't it time to be a Berean instead of relying on your feelings?I hope I haven't hurt your feelings. I'm told that I have all the sensitivity of a brick through a plate-glass window. But nothing could have been further from my mind than hurting your feelings.Dan Paden Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 10:48 pm #
As an Orthodox Christian, I take offense at the "Christians and Catholics" statement. Christians were first called "Christians" in Antioch. The Great Schism of 1054 hadn't happened yet, so Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics were the Church.Lillian Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 11:46 pm #
First, I would like to point out that Catholics are Christians, just as members of the Orthodox Church are Christians, just as members of Protestant denominations are Christians. As a Protestant, I am not familiar enough with Catholic thinking in regards to those who have been canonized to make any comment about Dawn's post. But what are we to make of Hebrews 12? "So great a cloud of witnesses (martyrs)surrounding us..." Martyrs, by definition, have died in the faith. If you simply attend to the word witnesses, those in living flesh would not make up a "cloud". It is reasonable to read this as a reference to those saints (believers) who have died. This cloud of witnesses is mentioned as an encouragement to us as we "fix our eyes upon Jesus". Praying to the saints? Praying through the saints? I don't know. I love to read the Bible. But I do know that, for me, learning about the lives and works of those who have lived bravely and boldly for Christ draws me closer to Him. It also gives me brothers and sisters who encourage me from an eternal perspective. Renee PHebrews 12:1-31 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.Renee Poudrier Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 11:48 pm #
The angel said "Hail, Mary."Mary said, "Nations shall call me blessed.Many of the postings spoke of saints, not just Saints. Jesus said the greatest gift is laying down one's life for a friend. Kolbe did that for a stranger.Yeah, he's a Saint.Faith Email Homepage 04.11.05 - 11:49 pm #
His ways are as far from us as East is from West. Omnipotent, Omniscient and non-chronological. I AM is the God that we Christians worship from our Jewish heritage. (name said with respect)Could it be that those blessed with the Beatific Vision are also outside of time? If so, that sets the concept of "why would they have time for you" on its ear. Listen not to the arguments of "The Most Subtle" but to the still quiet voice within. You remain within my prayers.John Huntley Email Homepage 04.12.05 - 12:11 am #
haha, give Dawn and everyone else a space. There's nothing wrong with God - He is still Almighty God with all the goodness, it is something to do with us, we are all sinners and to think of it, who are we to talk to Him? (well, yea He did say come to me and stuffs, but put yourself in the perspective of a child who, maybe steal a chance to drive your father's car and crash it until it became unidentifiable ^o) )And - what's the difference anyway, to whom we ask to pray for us - its just a matter of - well physical beingness (at least in this world). I agree with some of the previous comments - saints are not dead, they are more alive and closer to God. If we are to speak to Him directly, then why bother to pray for our neighbors? What if - we CANT pray, like the case of Terri? or say the unborn babies? victims of abortions? do you include those little humans into your perspective? hmm? tough? well bible don't say a thing about these things, maybe because there werent any of these problems before, I guess. So, let's trust the Holy Spirit to guide us to the new and more challenging problems that we ought to face in our daily life.denny Email Homepage 04.12.05 - 12:53 am #
"As far as the verses in Revelation depicting the prayers of the saints as incense rising before God, it must first be pointed out that the "saints" in question are quite certainly not just those canonized by Rome,"Of course not. What Rome has is a list of people they are definitively sure are in Heaven, thus can be safely called "saints". There are countless others, to be sure. But those whose intercessions to God have led to miracles are the only ones that can be definitively placed and identified."The theme continues throughout the post with sufficient vivacity to make it clear: this was an emotionally-based decision."I think that this is rather unfair, considering that the act was precluded by skepticism. The emotions in this case do not come out and influence a decision, but rather, come out to reinforce a decision already made. Emotion is not so much the basis as it is a joyful by-product."I must reply that asking parts of God's creation to do what they are neither designed to do nor tasked to do, assuming attributes of deity on their part, is indeed to detract from God's Glory."And how do you know that souls in Heaven were not "designed" or "tasked" to hear the prayers of those still on Earth? And by this way of thinking, ought we refrain from asking anyone of prayers, as the granting of our desires from God is but God's job alone? After all, man was not designed to influence God. And for the souls in heaven, could it not be by God's power that they can hear requests for their prayers? After all, it is part of Christian tradition (before the compilation of the Bible) to believe that those in the afterlife do hear prayers. And what of that common invocation of the dying to "watch over" their loved ones? That's omnipresence! What devilry!JonathanR Email Homepage 04.12.05 - 2:34 am #
How 'bout them Dodgers?:)Fr Joseph Huneycutt Email Homepage 04.12.05 - 4:13 am #
I seem to have struck a nerve. In response, only one point seems to have been consistent: the majority of you seem to feel that the "what if" argument applies to whether departed saints acquire omnipresence."What if," you say, God allows them that ability? And surely Church tradition speaks louder than the Scripture anyway? Genties and ladlemen, when you are forced to resort to arguments like that, the day is going very badly indeed. As long as you are allowed to make up what you would like to believe on a "what if" basis, please do me a favor and believe that my income has doubled during the night! "What if" God has so arranged things?Dan Paden Email Homepage 04.12.05 - 7:38 am #
Gidday Dawn, the saints are a great part of the Catholic faith. Not just as a helping hand in prayer but also a guide of how to live our lives.Just getting of the subject a bit. You were discussing how you lost one job but found a better one. I think the old saying of "God works in mysterious ways" is very appropriate here.Peter - Australia Email Homepage 04.12.05 - 8:02 am #
Hmm, Ah b'leeve ah saw yer handiwerk on a story about Hillary....ah ain't sayin' where!!!Janjan Email Homepage 04.12.05 - 8:33 am #
Dan, I'd believe that your income would double overnight, more than your other arguments.Cathy Email Homepage 04.12.05 - 8:45 am #
No Catholic would say that praying to saints is the ONLY way to pray. By praying to saints, we ask their assistance in petitioning God on out behalf. There are several instances in the Bible where man has asked God to change His plans. Moses pleaded with God, several times, not to destroy Israel. Lot successfully bargained with God over the fate of Soddom.I know it’s tough for Protestants to understand this. The most compelling evidence on doctrine such as praying to saints or the use of sacraments is that IT WORKS. Unless you’ve had a situation where you’re desperately praying for an impossible outcome to Saint Rita and minutes later have the whole situation reverse itself, you don’t understand. I’ve seen incurable cancer disappear in minutes, failed marriages saved, addicts made whole, lives changed. Every Sunday, I witness a miracle. I watch a man, by the power of God, change bread and wine in to the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. I can then take Christ into my body and have my body joined with his and all the other Catholics (and Orthodox, etc.) all around the world and in heaven and we are ONE bread and ONE body. I have Christ’s blood flowing through my veins and I am there, at the foot of the cross, with all the saints.When I quote the early church fathers, it’s not because it is Canonical. It is because that is what ALL Christians believed until the 16th century. It is evidence that the Catholic interpretation of the Bible was universally accepted until the reformation. We were one, as Jesus pleaded in John 17 for us to be one. We were all there, once, at the foot of the cross instead of arguing whether you should be pre-trib or post-trib.Where in the Bible does it say you can start you own church? Wouldn’t you think such a basic principle should be in there? Maybe you DON’T have the right to start your own church, even if you are Luther or Wesley or Smith or Zwingly. Wouldn’t that be a hoot?John J. Simmins Email Homepage 04.12.05 - 10:33 am #
I happily call the saints my friends. I have good friends (and great family) here on earth, and I am grateful to God for them. I also have particular saints in Heaven that I feel a special closeness to, and for their friendship I am also grateful to God. Whether or not others feel the same closeness to my favorite saints is not essential, but it makes me happy to know many others also experience the merits of closeness with the saints.There are so few humans that we can model our lives after, and truly call "Heroes" in the Godly sense of the word. The lives of the saints give us an abundance of people, who like ourselves were only human, but aspired to greatness in virtue and holiness. What great examples for us! Jesus liked to teach in parables, and used examples of people who chose good/people who chose bad, to let us know which way we should choose.None of this diminishes my knowledge that God is THE ONLY GOD, and I WORSHIP only Him.Jesus created one Church, not many. It is we humans who have messed with His perfect and beautiful plan and created the divisions of His Church. I pray that we can always remember that we are ALL His, and forget about the divisions, differences of opinion, and divergent beliefs, and simply love each other as He loves us -- unconditionally.Dawn, thank you for sharing your spiritual growth process, and allowing this soul-searching to go on for all of us. I will keep you in my prayers.S. M. Geerling Email Homepage 04.12.05 - 11:56 am #
For peas and corn, John J., it wasn't Lot, but Abraham who bargained unsuccessfully over the fate of Sodom. (Genisis 18:16-33)Joel Email Homepage 04.12.05 - 12:12 pm #
Dan Paden writes:"...has the way you *feel* now become your test of whether or not something is true?"Dan, your criticism of feelings applies doubly to the Baptist whose certainty of his interpretation of Scripture comes solely from how he feels, since he rejects the authority of Tradition."Thirdly, is this how Jesus taught you to pray? Or did you receive the same instruction the disciples did? ..."This is the converse of the "Jesus never said anything about homosexuality/arson/etc." argument. Proof-texting is a bad methodology that can be twisted for any purpose.Catholics believe that Scripture and Tradition do not contradict one another -- that Tradition is indeed the same instruction the disciples had, the parts that John said could not be contained in a book. As such, they reject that there is any burden of proof to find each and every doctrine in Scripture; that assumption is a Protestant invention unknown before 1500.And the idea that it detracts from God's glory to have saints do His work echoes Islamic ridicule of the Passion, or Naaman's incredulity at Elisha's asking him to wash in the Jordan instead of just healing him. Who are you to tell God how he is properly supposed to do things?craig Email Homepage 04.12.05 - 12:40 pm #
ACtually, Abraham got God down to the bare minimum, Abraham took a head count of his family, made a utilitarian assessment and walked out with the family. When I was a judge a certain lawyer used to similarly bargain with me. "Would you consider 6 months in jail?" OK six months. "Well, if you'd take six months, why not five" etc. I began calling him Abraham. (Remember the Buck Henry skit on SNL: the meeting of the Chamber of Commerce of Sodom trying to improve their image?)Robert N.G. Email Homepage 04.12.05 - 12:45 pm #
Yep. You're right. It was Abraham. I shouldn't be doing this at work anyway.John J. Simmins Email Homepage 04.12.05 - 1:45 pm #
Neither should I.Joel Email Homepage 04.12.05 - 2:16 pm #
(My apologies for essentially repeating something I posted on another thread, but Craig may not have seen it.)Craig, the Reformed view is that while not all parts of Scripture are equally plain, God has made plain what we need to know, believe, and observe for our salvation. (See Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter I) We don't believe interpreting the Bible is a matter of feeling or my personal opinion, but a matter of simply reading what the Holy Spirit spoke through the prophets and apostles. Where a passage is obscure, it's to be interpreted in light of passages where the meaning is clear. And there is a place for scholars and church leaders to meet to decide doctrinal controversies as a body (see Chapter 31 of the Westminster Confession), but their conclusions are always regarded as subsidiary to the Bible.The doctrine of sola Scriptura is not some Reformation novelty -- this FAQ on the topic includes a collection of quotes in support of the doctrine from the early church fathers to Aquinas. For example, Athanasius, a Doctor of the Church, wrote: "The Holy Scriptures, given by inspiration of God, are of themselves sufficient toward the discovery of truth." (Orat. adv. Gent., ad cap.) And here is what Athanasius wrote after enumerating the 27 books of the New Testament: "These are the springs of salvation, in order that he who is thirsty may fully refresh himself with the words contained in them. In them alone is the doctrine of piety proclaimed. Let no one add anything to them or take anything away from them." (39th Festal Letter)Michael Bates Email Homepage 04.12.05 - 2:28 pm #
Koble was a great person and it is sad that people use his memory to attack the Pope, and doubt the true nature of Catholics during the Holocaust.J. Mark English Email Homepage 04.12.05 - 2:31 pm #
This is wonderful news! I am so happy for you. To find a great job and love all at once. You hit the jackpot. God is very funny the way he works. Just when things seem the darkest, he comes to the rescue (I was going to make a comment about things being darkest before dawn, but restrained myself). I am very happy for you that your efforts to be so faithful have been rewarded so well! Even when things are dark, we have to keep the faith and trust.Patti Email Homepage 04.12.05 - 3:28 pm #
Michael:Given that:"The Lord is witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have broken faith though she is your companion, your betrothed wife....For I hate divorce, says the Lord, the God of Israel" (Mal. 2:14-16)."I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery" (Matt. 5:32-33)."Have you not read that...`a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together no human being must separate....I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery" (Matt. 19:4-6, 9)."Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery" (Mark 10:11-12)."Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and the one who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery" (Luke 16:18)."A married woman is bound by law to her living husband. Consequently, while her husband is alive she will be called an adulteress if she consorts with another man. But if her husband dies she is free from that law, and she is not an adulteress if she consorts with another man" (Rom. 7:2-3).Is it the reformed position that divorce and remarriage is out of the question?John J. Simmins Email Homepage 04.12.05 - 3:46 pm #
Dawn, I think it's awesome that you've found an advocate in Heaven. :-) **hugs**Jane Email Homepage 04.12.05 - 4:01 pm #
All I can say is that the Litany of Saints at the Holy Father's funeral was one of the most exhilirating experiences of my life. To be reminded that the giants of the faith have gone before us and are interceding for us, along with the One who lives to make intercession for us, is truly awesome.An E. Orthodox christian once told me that we venerate the saints because they perfectly incarnate one aspect of the image of Christ. In other words, they are living icons, windows to the Godhead. C.S. Lewis said that if we could see each other as we really are we'd be tempted to worship one another. Like others have said here, my devotion to the saints has been nothing but spiritually expansive. They have grown my love for Christ.mizznicole Email Homepage 04.12.05 - 4:27 pm #
It is a curious contradiction that Don P and Michael B posts here citethe Westminster Confession as a teaching authority and yet state Sola Scriptura is the only authority.It is though they need a "Magestrium" and still want to deny the need for one.Macon Georgia in the spring is beautiful.Wodamark Email Homepage 04.12.05 - 6:05 pm #
Michael Bates, thanks for the effort, but I went to Reformed grade school (not reform school, mind you!), grew up Baptist, and was baptized Episcopalian (and technically still am one, but hopefully not too much longer), so I've been very familiar with the various epistemologies of Protestant belief. I know from Protestant.I'm also familiar with how the force in these denominations is all centrifugal, due to the one-two punch of their stubborn insistence that "what the Bible says" is obvious despite not agreeing among themselves about it, combined with their required rejection of the Church's apostolic charism to teach definitively.As for sola Scriptura, it is an unusual argument at least, to use the words of (Saint and Patriarch of Alexandria) Athanasius on Scriptural sufficiency while casually assuming he would have countenanced that Scripture ever be interpreted apart from the Tradition of the Church. (And in a thread devoted to the intercession of saints, no less!)That's all I have to say on the subject; I hope I have not offended.craig Email Homepage 04.12.05 - 6:17 pm #
The story of Kolbe was touching, and reminded me of the words of Paul to the Phillipians: "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved–and that by God." (Phil 1:27-28, NIV)I have enjoyed reading the thoughts of Roman Catholics in this thread. These are some of the best explantions I've ever read regarding the subject of prayer addressed to Saints.I've also enjoyed watching both Protestants and Catholics try to poke holes in each other's theology without anyone coming out as a true winner. :) It took me a long time to finally realize that fundamentalist "Bible-believing Christians" (as I was raised) actually believe a lot of things that are never found in Scripture (try finding a direct reference to 'The Age of Accountability' in the Bible), as well as glossing over many things that are specifically found in the Scripture (John, your literalist point on divorce is well-taken). Of course the reason for this is - you guessed it - tradition. Many have a hard time facing it, but fundamentalists are just as steeped in their own unique traditions as Roman Catholics. In fact, for many Southern fundamentalists, the tradition of 'temperance' (total abstention from alcohol and other worldly evils) seems to be confused with with the Biblical concept of salvation. I've known far too many folks who led dismal lives of fear and one kind of addiction or another, and yet considered themselves to be top-shelf Christians because they went to church every Sunday and didn't smoke, drink, go to movies, swear, or listen to rock music. It took me a long time to overcome a deeply ingrained spiritual mistrust of Catholics and Catholicism. And although I don't share in many of the doctrines of my Roman Catholic friends (actually prayers directed at saints are something that I have never accepted) I have delighted in the spiritual lessons that I have learned from many of them.I think Jesus said it best: "How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." (Luke 6:42 NIV)Mike Email Homepage 04.12.05 - 6:43 pm #
"try finding a direct reference to 'The Age of Accountability' in the Bible"Try finding these other goodies directly referenced in the Bible:-- The word "Trinity"-- A direct prohibition of abortion-- A direct reference to sola scriptura -- The words "faith alone" used in relation to salvation (except where preceeded by the words "not by")You're definately on to something. We all interpret scripture through the lens of tradition. There is no "traditionless" perspective. The key is to find a tradition that is protected from error by the Holy Spirit. We know that such a tradition exists, because Jesus promised it.Great thread of comments.Tex Email Homepage 04.12.05 - 7:27 pm #
Much to my surprise, I seem to have provided quite a number of people something with which to while away the day. I've only got time to respond to two thoughts right now ( I am in the middle of buying a house!); this is the first:"...your criticism of feelings applies doubly to the Baptist whose certainty of his interpretation of Scripture comes solely from how he feels, since he rejects the authority of Tradition."I chose this one, out of all the others, as possibly the most glaring non-sequitur of the bunch. Rejecting the authority of Roman tradition means that certainty comes from feelings? There are no other options? Do I really need to elaborate on this?The second is the repeated retreat to Roman tradition, whilst simultaneously begging the questions of whether the Roman church is in fact the "true" church and whether tradition in fact has the authority you claim. I know perfectly well that you have all read the quote, but I repeat the substance of Luther's comment at the Diet of Worms as it still nicely condenses most Reformed thought on the subject: we place no confidence in Popes and councils, since they have often contradicted one another. Now, theological differences aside, I take no offense at anything said, and any of you will be welcome to spend a night at our house should you ever chance to come to Tulsa. Seriously.Dan Paden Email Homepage 04.12.05 - 8:36 pm #
mizznicole, I have to agree, the Litany of the Saints was so moving at the Pope's funeral. That very day, I had a non-Catholic,non religious woman say that she thought "that sort-of, 'roll call' of the Saints" was really impressive"!;-)And During the Easter Vigil, I thought it as one of the most moving parts of the Mass. The "Great Cloud of Witnesses" and all.....Janjan Email Homepage 04.12.05 - 9:15 pm #
Mr. Paden, Visited your homepage but am not going to register- so a question from a Roman Catholic who "feels" your annoyance- LOL- please forgive- as I also sense your honest confusion. Are you aware that the Catholic Church has daily mass, where the sacrament of the Eucharist is offered every single day- as in, "Give us this day, our DAILY bread."? This is all Biblical, instructions from Jesus Himself... "Do this in memory of Me." The readings in the mass are all from the Bible- the Old and New Testaments. I am truly confused as to why other Christians think Catholics don't know the Bible. My question is- what is it that Protestants believe Jesus meant when He told Peter he was the rock on which He would build His Church- and the Vatican sits on the site where Peter rests? Also, why were the apostles told who they forgive, He would forgive- who they hold bound to their sins, He would hold bound? What do Protestants say these statements and commands mean? I have further questions- and thank Dawn for the space to pose the ones posted here.Faith Email Homepage 04.12.05 - 9:43 pm #
"Mr. Paden, Visited your homepage..."And you're still talking to me? I *am* impressed. However, regarding "...I also sense your honest confusion. Are you aware that the Catholic Church has daily mass..."Oh, I'm very much aware. I've worked with Catholics, prayed with Catholics, discussed the issues with Catholics, had two Catholic best friends (out of four best friends, actually) in high school (one later became a priest, the other a nun of the Benedictine order. The priest, interestingly, admitted to me that he thought much of Rome's doctrine unbiblical, but said that he felt like he could help reform the church from within. I still keep in touch, from time to time, with Sr. Elizabeth. I've always thought of her as one of the dearest, sweetest people I know. She resides here in Tulsa and teaches at one of the Catholic schools. The priest was eventually drummed out of the diocese on suspicion of pedophilia. Enough said about him!)read diatribes, apologetics, and historical assessments from both sides of this divide for longer than I care to remember. There are Catholic authors whose work I deeply appreciate, especially Peter Kreeft, whose logic is exceptionally tight. One of the best books I've ever read was his A REFUTATION OF MORAL RELATIVISM. I appreciate the piety that so many Catholics show. I deeply value what conservative Catholics bring to the culture war raging in our country. If I haven't made it clear that I'm more than cursorily familiar with Roman history and doctrine, especially what I see as its touchstone: its view of the Word of God as consisting of one stream made up of the written scriptures and unwritten Tradition (said to be the oral teaching of the apostles), etc., it's because I'm more interested in arguing the particular question at hand than in discussing Romanism in general. More general (and admittedly more vehement) comments are on *my* blog, as you have no doubt found. I'm not *confused* about Romanist doctrine and practices, though I'm occasionally flabbergasted at the means they're arrived at.Where I *am* confused is on where *you* are. I'm not sure whether you're teasing me or not. Are you seriously asking me these questions, which have been debated, discussed, refuted and confuted so long that it is hard for me to believe that you haven't seen some of the discussion? Or are you joking with me? Or are you testing me? For example, your question regarding where Protestants stand on the Peter and the Rock passage is one of the most famously debated in history! It would knock me out of my chair if I found so much as one participant in this discussion who was genuinely unaware of at least the cursory elements of the arguments on both sides. Are you fooling with me, or are you legitimately unaware?Dan Paden Email Homepage 04.12.05 - 10:57 pm #
So many questions to answer! Regarding the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF), it is a summary of what the PCA believes to be the teaching of Scripture, the common confession of its congregations and ministers. The Bible remains the final authority -- creeds, confessions, and catechisms are useful means of summarizing doctrine and setting a standard, but they are not inerrant. I have cited the WCF in part to refute claims of the form, "All Protestants believe X." Regarding divorce, the PCA holds that the only Biblical grounds are adultery (Mt 19:9) and desertion (I Corinthians 7:15). If someone walks out on his spouse, our congregation's elders seek to persuade him to repent and return, but if he refuses, he will be excommunicated. There was one such case in our congregation within the last month. There is still a place for repentance and restoration for someone who has unjustly divorced his spouse -- divorce is not the unpardonable sin, but the PCA takes it very seriously.Craig, in the Sola Scriptura FAQ I mentioned (http://geneva.rutgers.edu/src/faq/sola- scriptura.txt), you'll find a discussion of how the understanding of the role tradition changed from patristic times to the Middle Ages -- tradition as a commonly accepted way of understanding the Scriptures (which remain the only source of divine Revelation) versus tradition as a parallel source of revelation beyond what is contained in the Scriptures. The magisterial Reformers (e.g. Calvin, Luther) accepted the value of tradition in the former sense; the radical Reformers (Anabaptists) rejected both kinds of tradition. If you'll look at Athanasius' writings, which you can find online, you'll find that he uses Scripture to defend the deity of Christ against the Arians; he never says anything like "the Church says it, that settles it." In many ways, Athanasius suffered like the later Reformers -- he faced strong support for Arianism from the emperor and within the Church and was banished five times from Alexandria. His side prevailed only after his death. Mike is correct that there are traditions among fundamentalists which can't be justified from Scripture, like abstaining from wine. I don't make any excuses -- every doctrine and practice should be tested against the standard of Scripture. And hypocrisy, brokenness, and sin can be found in any church of any doctrine. For all our vigorous debate here, I think we have all refrained from impugning one another's Christian character. The issue is not, "You practice or believe X, so you're rotten," but is rather "Is X something that Christians ought to practice or believe?" And I agree with Mike that despite our doctrinal divisions, we can learn spiritual lessons from each other and from the examples of our brothers and sisters in Christ down through the centuries. Regarding Tex's comment, it's not necessary to use only the words found in the Scriptures in order to describe what the Scriptures teach. The word "Trinity" is not found in the Scriptures, but the doctrine signified by the word most certainly is! Abortion is not expressly forbidden, but the unavoidable inference from the Bible's teaching about when life begins and its teaching on murder is that killing a child in the womb is murder. It's valid to draw careful, logically sound inferences from Scripture in order to apply God's Word to those situations not expressly dealt with in Scripture.I have appreciated the irenic and constructive tone of this discussion, and I thank our gracious hostess for allowing it to occur under her roof. Now I've got to get some work done!Michael Bates Email Homepage 04.12.05 - 11:27 pm #
Mr. Paden, Thank you for responding. And thank you for your willingness to discuss. No, I don't know or understand Protestant rationale. For example, is it safe to say that Protestants do not believe the Pope acts with authority bestowed by the Holy Spirit? And if so, by whose authority did Luther act? Or (forgive me), Hal Lindsey? Did I mention LaHaye and Brown? Why is so much credence given to these men's interpretations of the Bible?Also, why are Catholics not considered Christians? Christ is the center of our universe, as is proven every day during the Sacrament of the Eucharist as per His instructions. And yet, we're not considered saved by our Protestant brethren? No, I do not understand, and I will not argue- but I do appreciate your time and consideration. God Bless.Faith Email Homepage 04.13.05 - 12:39 am #
"Genties and ladlemen, when you are forced to resort to arguments like that, the day is going very badly indeed. As long as you are allowed to make up what you would like to believe on a "what if" basis, please do me a favor and believe that my income has doubled during the night! "What if" God has so arranged things?"Not really. We're only doing the "what if" thing for the benefit of those who do not subscribe to the oral Tradition that explicitly says so. The day cannot get better really. Besides, you say it is not so, and offer little proof other than what can be inferred in some passage of Scripture.JonathanR Email Homepage 04.13.05 - 3:31 am #
Dawn, I'd like to say again how happy I am for you, your new job and your new relationship and your coming to Catholicism. I wish you the best on all three. Thanks for introducing St Max Kolbe.Hannah Email Homepage 04.13.05 - 4:28 pm #
Dan/Mike-I don't know why you view the practice of the intercession of the Saints as "Romanism"- What about the Eastern Orthodox? And not just on the Saints but many other key teachings and practices - Apostolic Succession, Sacred Tradition, Real Presence, Theosis...ToddTodd Email Homepage 04.13.05 - 5:39 pm #
"Also, why are Catholics not considered Christians? Christ is the center of our universe, as is proven every day during the Sacrament of the Eucharist as per His instructions. And yet, we're not considered saved by our Protestant brethren? No, I do not understand..."
Faith, indeed you do not. In actual point of fact, protestants do consider catholics to be christians. It is Catholics who believe that a protestant taking communion in a catholic church is committing some kind of awful sin against God. To which I say piffle. I'm in the mood to film myself (protestant) taking communion in 95 different catholic churches- is it performance art? is it tempting God to strike me down with a contemporary plague? is it just that I'm completely tired of overly religious ding-dongs trying to speak for a God who is already "a friend who is closer than a brother", who was always more of a bridegroom than a boss to us, and who called his people to be a kingdom of priests? A God, mind you, who tore apart the veil so that we could commune DIRECTLY with our God and His Son and our Comforter, the Holy Spirit. And who tore apart that veil so that they could commune directly with us.
Who the hell do you think stands and whispers, "This is the way, walk ye in it?" Saints? Your Monsignieur, father, mother, superiorinferior? No, God Himself does. To those of you who think you need someone else to suck up to God for you- well, I am not implying, I am out right saying that you don't understand how you are loved.
Plus, "Saints"- yes, we're encompassed by so great a cloud of witnesses. Those are good groceries. They really are. But everybody poops. Nobody living or dead is nearly as beautific as they've been made out to be. God loves us as flawed creatures. Here, now. As well as in Heaven. He's not holding back and waiting for some higher up human to advise Him on our worthiness to be heard in prayer, our worthiness to be met in this life daily. Oh, and good luck on the trifecta. honest + popular Email Homepage 04.13.05 - 5:42 pm #
Oh, yes, and doesn't Jesus, Himself sit at the right hand of the Father INTERCEDING FOR US with groanings which cannot be uttered? I swear, God's already got the big guns out on this one, folks. Saints watch us, cheer us on, worship God, rest now that their work on earth is done, and wait... honest + popular Email Homepage 04.13.05 - 5:54 pm #
H&P - the Holy Spirit intercedes with groanings that cannot be uttered; being the precise Catholic fly that I am, I note that though they are the same God, they are not the same Person and ought to be kept distinct. =)
More seriously, I find great weakness in your understanding of salvation as a "me and God" proposition. God meant for us to be in community. Even contemplatives have monasteries and convents; even hermits have oversight and regular contact with others. It's not a matter of asking others to suck up to God for us, any more than worship itself is for us to suck up to Him. (Anyone with eyes can see the difference between a child loving his parents and a student brown-nosing his teachers.)
"I'm completely tired of overly religious ding-dongs trying to speak for a God who is already "a friend who is closer than a brother", who was always more of a bridegroom than a boss to us, and who called his people to be a kingdom of priests."I'm tired of irreligious folk who presume to do the same thing."
God loves us as flawed creatures. Here, now. As well as in Heaven."Good God forbid! Of course He loves us now, flawed as we are - but He loves us far too much to let that state of affairs stand. He is much more like Henry V - "I love France so much that I shall not part with a village of it, but shall have it all mine." He loves us far too much to give away large swaths of our souls to sin, error, and pain. He shall wipe away every tear. We shall be blameless in His sight. He's not settling for a Heaven of lovable bumblers (it would quickly cease to be a Heaven at all!); He wants us spotless and means to see it done.
The saints are worthy examples of what any one of us could become if we let God hold perfect sway over us. And speaking for nobody but myself, when I contemplate Him, I want to be a better man, whether or not He requires it. If you're strong enough to not need the example (or the help!), then praise God - but I'm going to take both. Maybe you're right and all the saints can do is cheer me on. Well, would you rather have 65,000 people cheering you as you head into the final mile, or jeering and booing? Which is more help?Nightfly Email Homepage 04.13.05 - 6:30 pm #
Dawn, if you have not been there already and get the opportunity, I recommend a visit to Auschwitz. I was there in 2003. It was so moving to be where sacrifices like Saint Maximilian's were a bright light through the incredible evil. It would be especially emotional for a person with your background.Thank you for being so open about your faith. And congratulations on the good things!Aunt Judie Email Homepage 04.13.05 - 7:08 pm #
My darling Nightfly, I wait in vain for you to make a cognisant point.
1.) Drat, you've stolen my thunder with the difference b/w Jesus and the Holy Spririt interceding for us. Tears on my pillow tonight, there will be fo' sho'. And here I thought I'd pointed out something pertinent about the character and acts of God. *sigh*
2.) My "understanding of salvation" was not at issue in my comments. I wrote regarding PRAYER to God. Prayer which I believe has been clearly demonstrated to need no intermediaries. What I believe about CHURCH and the communion of believers is another topic altogether. Try to focus.
3.) Um, you lost me completely with trying to say that worshiping God was sucking up. Whatever.
4.) "I am tired of irreligious folk who presume to do the same thing." I suppose there is no presumption in your assumption that I am irreligious, is there? You aren't fit to judge, babe. Mind your manners.
5.) I'm gonna shock the snot out of you, I just know it, by saying you're darn tootin' on the whole "not flawed in Heaven" thing. I was thinking "little lower than the angels"/ lesser beings but that doesn't mean flawed, now does it? Shoulda been more clear with my writing on that one.
6.) Your last paragraph is mind boggling. Huh? And What? Heroes are great. Inspiration is great. When I contemplate God I worship Him. (Honestly, my theory is that our individual response to contemplation of God probably has a lot to do with our personality type, but, hey...) Are you actually trying to use your response to God as a smackdown? Foo' whatchoo tryin' to do? And what the hoohaw is this "would you rather have this or that?" business? Seriously, what are you talking about? Jeering? Booing? Are you off your rocker? Did I ever represent the saints as doing either of those two things?
7.) And last, and maybe most importantly, this slashing and raging stuff is fun. I never met a confrontation I didn't want. However, as satisfying as handing your Catholic boohonkas to you may be, I recognize what kind of attitude I've got right now. So, I'll back up and say that every single person commenting on this blog is an infinitely valuable human being whose value has been placed on them and kept on them by God. Also, if my memory serves, there is absolutely no end to a pissy possessiveness where God and theology and even Dawns are concerned. This kind of tussling is what we idjits do. I'll admit I recognize that God doesn't do this. So, I'll back off now. And wish you all well.honest + popular Email Homepage 04.13.05 - 7:23 pm #