Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Can Mary & the Saints Hear Our Prayers?

The question of whether Mary and the saints can hear our prayers is one that spans centuries of theological discourse and touches upon the beliefs and practices of various Christian denominations. The concept of intercession by saints, particularly by Mary, the mother of Jesus, is deeply rooted in the traditions of the Catholic Church and other Christian communities.

From a theological standpoint, the Catholic Church teaches that the saints in heaven, being close to God, can indeed hear the prayers of the faithful on Earth. This belief is supported by several scriptural passages and the writings of theologians like St. Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas argued that the saints are not saddened by the knowledge of our sufferings because they are filled with heavenly joy and understand that God allows evils to happen to bring about a greater good.

Furthermore, the New Testament speaks of a "great cloud of witnesses" (Hebrews 12:1) that surrounds us, implying that the saints are aware of our struggles and intercede for us. The Book of Revelation also describes the prayers of the saints as incense rising before God (Revelation 5:8; 8:3-4), suggesting that the saints participate in the prayer life of the Church.

On the other hand, some Christian denominations, particularly within Protestantism, argue that the Bible does not explicitly state that Mary or the saints can hear our prayers. They emphasize the omniscience of God as the one who hears and answers prayers, and they view the intercession of saints as unnecessary or even unbiblical. They often cite verses describing the dead as not being able to hear or do anything. 

The debate over this issue often reflects broader theological differences regarding the nature of the communion of saints, the role of Mary, and the interpretation of Scripture. While the Catholic Church and some other traditions uphold the practice of seeking the intercession of Mary and the saints, other Christian groups focus solely on direct prayer to God. So how can Catholics defend this practice?

We read in Revelation 5:8 where the saints present to the Lamb (Jesus Christ) the prayers of the people. These are DEAD people. Not physically present either. They are in heaven. How did they collect or even hear these prayers if Scripture says the dead cannot hear or do not know anything (Ecclesiastes 9:5)? The reality is that they do. When we are baptized, we become part of the body of Christ and nothing can separate us from this body, not even death. Romans 8:31-39 makes this clear. Claims that the saints are dead and disconnected and cannot pray for us or are even still a part of Christ's body contradict Sacred Scripture. So just because a saint is dead does not cut him or her from the body of Christ, the Church. We are still connected and can pray for each other just like cells in a body communicate with each other. We also see this in Luke 16:23-31 where the rich man prays to Abraham from Hades. Some traditions hold that our guardian angels deliver our prayers to the saints as well so they can present them to Christ. 

In conclusion, the belief in the intercessory role of Mary and the saints is a matter of faith and doctrine that varies among Christian communities. It is a topic that continues to be explored and discussed in theological circles, reflecting the rich diversity of Christian thought and practice. Whether one believes that Mary and the saints can hear our prayers is ultimately linked to one's understanding of the nature of the afterlife, the communion of saints, and the relationship between heaven and earth. Regardless of one's stance, the question encourages a deeper reflection on the meaning of prayer and the connections that bind the faithful across time and space.  Therein lies the understanding. Are we to accept what Scripture says in regards to Romans 8:31-39 and Revelation 5:8? They clearly show that "dead saints" do hear our prayers and intercede for us to Jesus the Lord.  

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