Why the intercession of saints?
On the Feast of the Assumption, Steve asked, "Why ask Mary (or any Saint, for that matter) to intercede on our behalf, when we have a personal relationship with Jesus (God) himself?... Desi (his wife) used the analogy of a child going through his/her mother as a way of ultimately approaching dad. Here was my reaction. God is not like my dad (or like me!). He doesn't need to be "softened up" by Mary, or doesn't look more favorably on our needs when we go through Mary. His love and grace are perfect and not conditioned on Mary's (or anyone else's) involvement...So I guess my question is actually a very narrow one. Why would a devotion to Mary (or to any Saint) include asking them to intercede on my behalf before Jesus (God)?"
Steve, thanks very much for this important and direct question about the intercession of saints. My starting point in talking about intercession, especially the Blessed Mother, seems to always be the Incarnation. God could have come to us as a man in any way He wanted. He could have just appeared as a baby, young man, or adult. The fact that, in his Divine Plan, he chose to use a human instrument tells us a lot not only about the significance of intercession, but also about the human instrument herself.
Mary is the perfect vessel through whom God entered the world. The whole reason for her existence was to be the Mother of the Savior. God preserved her from all traces of Original Sin from the moment of her conception (SHE is the Immaculate Conception) so that she would be a perfect vessel for Christ to enter the world. She is now our perfect vessel to go to Him. Everything about Mary leads to Christ; our prayers never end with her. We don't worship Mary, and we don't pray to Mary only. We pray to Jesus through Mary.
Now, about the intercession of saints in general, there are countless examples of intercession in Sacred Scripture. In the Old Testament, God could have freed his people, the Israelites, from the Egyptians on his own, but he chose to use Moses and Aaron as his instruments. Really, all the prophets and priests are intercessors on behalf of their fellow man to God. One example clearly shows this: the Book of Jonah, Chapter 3.
The people of the city of Nineveh repent of their evil ways at the urging of the prophet, Jonah. "When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out" (v.10). It is because of the intercession of the prophet Jonah that God changed his mind about the people of Nineveh. In many other places in Scripture, God is "softened up" by the intercession of saints.
Also, in our Christian Tradition, there are numerous examples of miracles that have come about through the intercession of saints. That is concrete evidence that the intercession of saints is part of God's Plan. In addition, think about the apparitions of the Blessed Mother that have been approved by the Church. In some of them, Mary has asked us, her children, to pray to Jesus through her Immaculate Heart. These are messages from Heaven to go to Mary as a powerful intercessor.
Throughout Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, then, God has revealed to us that his Divine Plan is for us to turn to our Mother, brothers, and sisters for help in living out our faith in Him, our Father.