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Pope Benedict XVI and the Saints

November 5, 2010

I am already behind in reading my November Magnificat, but God is beyond time so all is good. The quote below is the meditation for All Saints by Pope Benedict. He is profound as always and I wanted to share this excerpt here for those of you who don’t subscribe to the Magnificat.

Praying for those who have gone before us drew our thinking to the communion of saints and the spiritual exchange of gifts. Then you will ask: What will this mean, then? Is that not a nonsensical religious commercialism? The question became sharper, as I remember, because one spoke in fact  of the treasury of the Church, which consisted of the good deeds of the saints. What is that supposed to mean? Must not every man be responsible for himself? What use should the possible good works of another be for me? So we ask because we still live in the narrow individualism of modern times, despite all socialist ideas. In fact, however, no man is closed in on himself. We all live interdependently, not only materially, but also spiritually, and morally. First let us make that clear negatively. There are men who not only destroy themselves but also corrupt others with them and leave behind powers of destruction that drive whole generations into nihilism. If we think of the great seducers of our century, we know how real this is. The negation of the one becomes a contagious disease that carries others away. But, God be praised, this is not only true in the negative. There are people who leave behind, so to speak, a surplus of love, of perseverance in suffering, of honor and truth that captures others and sustains them. In the innermost recesses of existence, there really is such a thing as taking another’s place. The entire mystery of Christ rests on this… In the spiritual realm everything belongs to everyone. There is no private property. The good of another becomes mine, and mine becomes his. Everything comes from Christ, but because we belong to him, what is ours becomes his and attains healing power. That is what is meant by talk of the treasury of the Church: the good deeds of the saints. To pray for an indulgence means to enter into this spiritual communion of gifts and to put oneself at its disposal.

From Images of Hope: Meditations on Major Feasts, John Rock and Graham Harrison, Trs. (c) 2006, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, CA. www.ignatius.com

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Russ permalink
    November 5, 2010 10:57 am

    Of all of the prayers in the Bible and all of the instruction on the subject of prayer in the Bible, not one verse addresses this subject that I know of. We are never instructed to pray to or for the dead.

    Moses could have prayed to Abraham, David could have prayed to Moses, Daniel could have prayed for David, etc, but not in all of scripture do we have an example of such a prayer and there is a lot of prayer in the Bible.

    The Bible tells us to pray to God for the living, not the dead. I don’t point this out to be argumentative but at some point the believer must determine who has authority to teach spiritual truths. Does the church, which is made of fallible men, have authority over the infallible word or does the word of Christ have authority over men?

    • catholicwideweb permalink*
      November 5, 2010 12:40 pm

      hi Russ, i will be creating a post later to address this in detail, but don’t forget that the Bible was written by men, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and in turn the Church is run by men inspired by the same Holy Spirit. do they make mistakes? sure. but in matters of faith and morals the Spirit is with them.

    • Russ Barone permalink
      November 7, 2010 10:16 pm

      Words can have different meanings, let alone composits of words such as sentances, paragraphs, chapters and volumes; but the Author of those words wrote them with the purpose of getting across a specific meaning to the persons they were addressed to. In this case, the addressees are the whole human race, and not everyone gets the same meaning out of the word, left to their own capacities –so how can the Author be sure the meaning he intended got across? Remembering that these words are written so that the meaning of the Author becomes preserved thru the passage of time and changes in the individual audiences, and that the true meaning is the ONE that the Author had in mind, questions as to the truth can only be deinitively resolved when and if the Author SPEAKS His Mind — as you pointed out, the Holy Spirit is on both sides of this equation. He guides the men who wrote and He empowers the Church to speak for Him when questions about the meaning of the writing, in His estimation, need to be answered.

  2. Russ permalink
    November 5, 2010 3:46 pm

    If the Bible was inspired by the Holy Spirit and the teachings of your church are inspired by the same Spirit, why do they teach different things?

    Jesus taught His followers to pray to the Father. You teach your followers to pray to saints. How is it that you know more about prayer than Jesus?

    • catholicwideweb permalink*
      November 5, 2010 8:02 pm

      the Catholic Church only prays to God. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. we ask the saints to intercede for us, just like you would ask your mother or friend to pray for you on a certain matter. we do not pray to saints, just like we don’t pray to our mother or our friend. unfortunately many times the language gets twisted, but only God is God, and only he can answer our prayers.

      do you believe in the after life, Russ? here on earth we humans are body and soul (our spirit). when our body dies our soul lives on. it is not dead. our saints are souls that have made it to heaven, by proven miracles we know that they are close to God, much closer than we are. hence, we ask these very alive souls to send prayers to God on our behalf. why not just pray directly to God? because we can and do pray for each other.

      here’s a great quote, please take it to heart –

      “There are not over a hundred people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions, however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church….As a matter of fact, if we Catholics believed all of the untruths and lies which were said against the Church, we probably would hate the Church a thousand times more than they do.” ARCHBISHOP FULTON J. SHEEN — preface to RADIO REPLIES

  3. Russ permalink
    November 8, 2010 4:57 pm

    All children have access to the Father. No believer or saint has more access than another – for all are His children and God does not play favorites. Even earthly families know the danger of elevating one child above another. If earthly families know the evil of playing favorites, should not the judge of all the earth know even more? You are either His child or you are not. If you are born into His family then you are His child and He hears you even as a father hears his son.

    If you have access to the Father through Jesus Christ, why ask another to go to in your place? The only reason to ask another to go in your place is if you believe that your Father is angry with you. If you know that He loves you and receives you and forgives you then you can have confidence that He also hears your request. If He is angry with you then all of your attempts to rally others to your side are a waste of time and energy.

    Jesus responded to nearly every request that He received while on earth. The blind requested to see and the lame requested to walk. All of these requests Jesus granted. One request that He refused to grant was from the mother of James and John – for she wanted her sons elevated above the other disciples. God does not have favorite children.

    Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

    • catholicwideweb permalink*
      November 8, 2010 10:00 pm

      russ, no one is saying that you have to ask the saints to pray for you. it is a beautiful option that we have in the Catholic Church. yes, we all have access to the Father thru his Son, Jesus Christ. we don’t need anyone else to help us, but there is the option if we choose.

      does God “play favorites”? he certainly could!! we all have different gifts at our disposal here in this world. so that right there says that God treats his children differently. but its only here on earth, in the midst of the evil one, that jealousy is a problem.

      as for God being angry at you, and no prayers will help you. i disagree. God is ALWAYS ready to forgive us. ALWAYS!! the only time we will not be forgiven is if we turn our backs on God. he doesn’t force us to come to him.

      catholic answers has created many tracts on many subjects, and i’ll post a link here rather than repeat what they have already said.
      http://www.catholic.com/library/Praying_to_the_Saints.asp

  4. Russ permalink
    November 10, 2010 11:41 am

    Not true and not true. All Catholics must pray to angels, to the saints and specifically to Mary when they attend mass…

    and I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin,
    all the angels and saints,
    and you, my brothers and sisters,
    to pray for me to the Lord our God.

    A true Catholic cannot pick and choose which parts of the mass to participate in.

    Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.

    • catholicwideweb permalink*
      November 10, 2010 10:32 pm

      russ, you need to go back and read your last post

      we ask blessed Mary, all the angels and saints and you my brothers and sisters to pray FOR US (ME).
      how does that equate to praying TO THEM???

      i’m sorry to see that you have such a negative concept of the Catholic Church.
      it is the Church that Jesus founded and sadly its teachings have been severely distorted by many.

      may the Holy Spirit direct your understanding to the fullness of truth
      peace.

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