Wednesday, August 30, 2006

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.

23 Comments:

At 6:30 AM, Blogger Searching For Holiness said...

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At 1:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Searching for Holiness:

I really admire that despite all that you have gone through, you can go to Mass each week. If you could help me and tell me how you do that each week?

 
At 3:10 PM, Blogger Searching For Holiness said...

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At 3:51 PM, Blogger Searching For Holiness said...

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At 6:32 PM, Blogger Pete said...

I've been saying the rosary daily since you said that Mary actually requested its daily recitation.

I get a good feeling about going to her as my protector and a channel to Jesus and the Father, who I also have a harder time talking to.

 
At 8:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Searching for Holiness,

Thank you for writing back to me it has helped me. Taking baby steps is the key. I am doing a lot of things behind the scenes helping in various organizations and that helps because I am near the church. But I totally understand what you mean by freaking out and it isn't something you can control. It sure is frustrating because you want to go to Mass.

Its good to know that someone else has gone through a similar thing I have and has gone back to the church. A lot of people left the church completely.

Again thanks for sharing.

Anony

 
At 9:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yea one more thing. I spoke to a wonderful priest who has helped many people and it was great talking to him because he was so compassionate and kind and knew exactly where I was coming from because although he is now retired he has dedicated his life (and even before he retired) to survivors. Isn't that awesome!!!!!!!!!!

 
At 9:19 PM, Blogger Searching For Holiness said...

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At 12:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Father Greg, I know you did not mean it in this way, but I need to share the following comment. I do not appreciate the fact that you referred to Mary as a human instrument. The word "instrument" has a very negative connotation especially when speaking about women. No offense Father, but this word it takes away the Mary's humanity and her identity and turns her into a thing. My understanding is that God asked Mary's permission and she said "Yes", therefore, God did not use her as an instrument. I know you did not mean it in this way, but as a woman, it hurts when men in general use the word "instrument" to describe another woman or the mother of them all, Mary. I think God loves us way to much to use us as instruments. I think He always waits for our consent--Do not you think?

Despite this, I want to thank you for your post.

 
At 6:01 AM, Blogger Searching For Holiness said...

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At 6:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Holy rubber band: I like that! Stretching to try to follow all that god has said.

 
At 10:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Baby steps is right. Some people recount dramatic moments of finding Christ or feeling grace, but I am moving at a snail's pace -feeling overwhelmed with the possibilities and the enormity of it all. It's like not being able to look straight at the sun. You have to look at it with peripheral vision and even then you experience its brilliance. I'm jealous (probably a sinful state) of people who can do it.

 
At 10:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you "SEARCHING FOR HOLINESS," for your excellent explanation of Mary as God's willing instrument. I was about to respond and read your comments. I have gathered that you are just coming back to the church - maybe? Well, I will pray for you because the church needs you. Committed to praying for your healing. It sounds like you are on your way.

 
At 1:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Searching for Holiness,

Thank you for your comments. However, I still do not think "instrument" is the right word that we should use. If you read my comments carefully, I do not think we should use the word for males or females. This is simply because God does not use us as his instruments. When you use an instrument, you use it regardless of whether it wants to be used or not. It has no feelings, opinions etc. God does not do that, otherwise, we would not have free will. He did not use Mary as an instrument. Everthing He did, He did not do it through Mary but with Mary. Otherwise, we would just be puppets on a string. And, that is not the God we know.

You said, "All of human creation is an instrument of God's grace in the world if we let him use us in that way." This is exactly what I mean, you are not an instrument the moment you tell God that "Yes, I want to serve you". You are not an instrument, you are his loving creation serving willingly the One you love the most.

I still do not think instrument is the right the word. But, I respect your opinion.

As for the feminist movement, I have never belonged to it really. I find it started well but, it has gone astray. However that does not mean that injustice and abuse against women do not exist. They are very real in our society and in other socities. There is plenty to keep fighting for. I am going to assume you have never been in the work place before and that you have never been in contact with women who are still being abused and used here in the "developed" world. Even within our own Church women are abused every day. There have been plenty of accounts of nuns being sexually abused by priests. This does not say anything about God or our faith. It points to the faults of some of the priests in our Church who obviously followed their vocation for the wrong reasons.

I am glad you have decided to listen to the one who loves you the most and come back to Him.

 
At 2:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

SFH,

I think you have a fan club here with all the posts to you! Here is one more. I was very happy to read that you have Fr. Greg to talk to, someone you can trust. That is so important. I too have someone and that makes all the difference in the world because they can show the different angles and dimensions of the teachings and of the church that you may not have even thought of.

We are both on our way back-yahoo!

 
At 2:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I meant was to correct us when we have the wrong idea or concept.

 
At 3:01 PM, Blogger Searching For Holiness said...

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At 4:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What are some penance we can do to get us closer to God?

 
At 8:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

instrument (n)

1: a device that requires skill for proper use
2: the means whereby some act is accomplished;
3: a person used by another to gain an end

(Source: WordNet (r) 1.7 - http://dict.die.net/instrument/)

 
At 9:58 PM, Blogger Searching For Holiness said...

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At 12:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Giggle, cute post.

 
At 6:54 PM, Anonymous whot gets to become a saint? said...

how does the church determine who is a saint? I heard it takes a long time after a saint's passing. Also I hear people say we should strive to be saints. Does that mean try to be perfect? Or what else-what kinds of things help a person to strive to be like saints. know the obvious.....sacraments, service and prayer.

 
At 8:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is going on?

 

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