Meet Catherine of Siena, the Saint I Pray To.


st__catherine_of_siena_iconNote: this weekend, I wrote a post collecting all of my responses to people’s Protestant concerns with praying (or “talking”) to saints. Before you express your disagreement to this present post, I’d ask you at least read some of that.

Well, my previous post on praying to saints caused a lot of conversation on my social media. Slightly more than half of people disagreed with it (strongly), and the rest seemed to appreciate it. So before I begin today, I want to make something clear: this blog’s purpose is not to start flame wars or disagreements among friends. I genuinely want to be helpful to people–even when that means challenging and stretching them, and even when they strongly disagree with me. One need not be convinced of a position to be helped by reading about it.

With that being said, let me tell you my experience of finding a saint to pray (or “talk”) to, and then let me tell you a little bit about her.

Throughout history, there have been saints to whom God has given unique grace in certain areas of life. When the Church knew of and could recognize such saints, it declared them “patron saints” of those things they seemed to have special, almost unparalleled grace for.

In times of need in a specific aspect of life, much of the Church throughout history has felt comfortable praying to those earlier saints that seemed especially graced for those kinds of situations.

So…here’s my funny story.

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Some Protestant Saint-Praying Clarifications & Responses


Wow. Last week’s post about praying to saints really brought out more passion in people than I thought it would. Both here on the blog and on Facebook, here were some clarifying comments I left. By the way, this was the best comment on that post that challenged my thinking. I hope this helps.

First, here is my final, quick summary clarification of my position and why Evangelicals need not be freaked out about all this. If you read nothing else on this post, let it be this:

I really wish there was a different and better word than “prayer” for this. I agree that what most of us Protestants think of when we think of prayer really should only be directed at God.

Further, I’m simply advocating for this to be one more optional means of grace a Christian can participate in, depending on how they are wired. This shouldn’t take away from anyone’s participation in union with Christ or praying to him anymore than Bible memorization, fasting, listening to sacred music, or reading a devotional book does.

Everything critics have said they think should only be reserved for God, I absolutely agree with. I am certainly not suggesting we turn our affections, praise, adoration, or even our hearts towards those that have died. I just think we can talk to them, and they can intercede for us to God. I don’t think they talk back, that we experience their presence, or that they magically impart any more of God’s favor than asking a friend to pray with us would.

As Paul said, our outer selves are wasting away, while inwardly we’re being renewed day by day. Those that have died are, in a very real sense, just as “alive” as we are now, albeit absent from the body.

Therefore, all I think is (1) they can see and know what’s going on down here, and (2) they talk to God.

If those two things are true, then I don’t see the inherent evil, harm, or soul-destroying error it might be to simply “talk” to those that have gone before–not “commune with”, “worship”, or any of the other dimensions of “Godward prayer”. Just sending up some prayer requests to the part of the Body of Christ that is absent from the body, but present with the Lord.

What’s the harm in that?

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Catholics Aren’t Crazy: On Praying to Saints (Happy All Saints’ Day!)


This is a post in an on-going series called Catholic Aren’t Crazy exploring misconceptions Protestants have about Catholicism and lessons we can learn from them.

UPDATE: I responded to some critiques and gave some clarifications.

UPDATE II: Here’s the story of the Saint I pray to, Catherine of Siena.

Yesterday was Halloween. That makes today All Saints’ Day (read more about the history of these holidays in yesterday’s post).

All Saint’s Day has taken on different meanings for different groups of Christians. What seems to stay consistent, though, is that it is a celebration of the victory attained by those faithful Christians who have died. They are no longer pilgrims, as we are, but are the triumphant ones, having finished their race well and been brought into their peace with God. We celebrate Christ’s effectual victory over sin and death and that this has been granted to those that have gone before us.

The hope and encouragement in this holiday is not simply that we “remember” these saints, or meditate on their example. Instead (and this is important), there has been a long-held belief in the Christian Church that we still have a mystical communion and relationship with those saints that have already died. When Christians throughout Church history (and the Bible) have referred to “The Church”, they don’t simply mean those still around today, but all the saints who have ever lived (even in the Old Testament!). We are all the Church.

So we can truly celebrate those that have gone before us because we are truly still connected to them in a very real and vibrant way.
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