Hi, Dotty —
Thank you for your questions. I'll
do my best to answer them for you,
however, let me start by saying that
your questions seem to be based on
certain suppositions about Catholic
doctrine which are distorted. Having
said that let me take them one at
- If the Catholics
believe that the Saints and Mary
are face-to-face before God, and
they ask them to intercede for them
in prayer because they are more righteous
than others, what did they do to
become more righteous than any other
person who has lived or is now living?
St. Paul writes to Timothy that he
desires all believers everywhere
to lift their hands and pray. This
is in the same passage where he refers
to Jesus as the one mediator. So
if anyone can pray, it is because
of Christ's sacrifice and through
Christ that they pray. So all Christians
can approach the throne room of Grace
by virtue of being "in
Christ", that is, Jesus
being the Head, and the Church (the
rest of us) being the body.
- Now this begs the question, does
one cease to be in the Body when
one is face-to-face
I think that you would agree, that
Christians who are in Heaven, be
they Mary, St. Paul, or anyone else
for that matter, are still members
in good standing of the Body of Christ,
The book of Hebrews makes it clear
that the New Covenant has torn down
the dividing wall between the living
and Heaven. Read Hebrews 11; it goes
through a litany of Old Testament
saints. Then Hebrews 12:1, referring
back to these same Saints, says, "Therefore
since we are surrounded by
such a great cloud of witnesses ..." Later
in the Chapter, a comparison of worship
between the Old and New Covenant
continues, and we see the following:
you have come to Mount Zion and
to the city of the living God,
the heavenly Jerusalem, to an
innumerable company of angels, 23 to
the general assembly and church
of the firstborn who are registered
in heaven, to God the Judge of
all, to the spirits of just
men made perfect, 24 to
Jesus the Mediator of the new
covenant, and to the sprinkled
blood that speaks more graciously
than the blood of Abel.
So we see that when we worship and
pray, we do not do so in a vacuum,
but we do so as the Mystical Body
of Christ. That includes those who
are on Earth and those who are in
Heaven; both are alive in Christ.
Now, this verse also answers your
question about the righteousness
of those in the presence of God.
Look at verse 23, "the spirits
of just men made perfect."
Their righteousness, like ours, is
that of Christ. Christ makes us perfect
by Grace. Salvation, after all, is
a complete work of Christ's grace
from beginning to end, which requires
our free will response. So, all the
Saints in Heaven did was to receive
and respond to grace through
faith. Remember, Isaiah tells us
that our own righteousness is like
Let's clear something else up. Our
prayers to the Saints in Heaven are
in the form of requests that they
pray for us. We do this as we would
ask any living member of the Church
to pray for us.
Also, because they are in the presence
of God, not hindered by earthly desires,
and having been perfected by Grace,
they can truly pray according to
the Father's will. Thus, we believe
that their prayers are more effective.
After all, didn't James write that
of the righteousness avails much"?
Again, I cannot over-emphasize the
fact that their righteousness is
not of their own doing but comes
by the grace and virtue of being in
Christ. So we do not ask for
their intercession instead of Jesus,
we do so because they are part of
the Body which cannot be separated
from the Head, Christ Himself.
- Are these people
The elders of the Church would be
I think I've answered that. We ask
for their prayers because we are
told to pray for one another, and
yes, they are alive in Christ. Further,
Revelation speaks of the elders of
the Church being in Heaven as well.
Secondarily, when the Scriptures
refer to the elders, it is the Greek
word presbyter. This was later
abbreviated to the English word,
- Who does the
priest confess his sins to?
Any other priest, and that includes
the Pope, who also confesses his
sins to some other priest. However,
this requires me to explain a little
bit about the New Testament Priesthood.
The Old Testament Priest went before
God and represented the people. In
the New Testament, we, the believers,
are all priests, in a sense, and
we represent Christ to the world, and
united to Christ, we go before
the Father on their behalf. There
is also, however, a Ministerial Priesthood
which Christ instituted in which
the priest represents Christ to the
Church. This does not make these
priests holier than others. However,
by the power of the Sacrament of
Holy Orders, Christ works through
the priest to administer the forgiveness
of sins. We rely on the Grace and
Mercy of God with full confidence
in the Word of God which says in
1 John 1:9: if we confess our
sins, He is faithful to forgive us
and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Normally, that would take place through
the ministry of the Ordained Priesthood.
After all, Jesus was speaking only
to His twelve Apostles in John:
said to them again, "Peace
be with you. As the Father has
sent me, even so I send you." 22 And
when he had said this, he breathed
on them, and said to them, "Receive
the Holy Spirit. 23 If
you forgive the sins of any, they
are forgiven; if you retain the
sins of any, they are retained."
- Wasn't Jesus
the only one free of sin and didn't
He die for all sin?
Jesus is the only one sinless in
both His Divine and Human Nature(s),
Note: We do believe
that Mary was preserved
from sin, but this was not
of her own doing, but rather
a unique act of Grace based
on what Jesus would do later
on the Cross.
- Doesn't He want
us to turn to Him and have a relationship
Isn't He Our Heavenly Father?
Of course, but, none of that precludes
the function of members of His Body.
Christ established a Church, and
one cannot separate the Church from
Christ, or Christ from the Church.
None of what we believe or do is
an alternative to Jesus.
- Why do Catholics
have to confess their sin before
a human, yet they pray to a Saint
I believe I've answered that already.
If anyone is
going to confess their sin and ask
for forgiveness, Jesus would be the
first one to go to, to receive forgiveness
anytime and anyplace. Jesus is the
intercessor for us.
- So why aren't Catholics
allowed to pray directly to Jesus?
- What! Where
did you ever get the idea that
Catholics aren't allowed to
pray directly to Jesus?
Clearly you have been given wrong
information. Jesus Christ is my Lord
and Savior!! Without His shed Blood,
I'd be on the way to Hell.
- He created me to be in fellowship
with Him, so why on earth wouldn't
I pray to Him?
- Why would the Church, which He
founded, ever forbid me to do
- Does your asking your pastor
or friend to pray for you preclude
you from praying directly to Jesus?
Further, nowhere is a Catholic bound
to pray to the Saints, or that we
must ask them through prayer. Nowhere
in Catholic teaching is it said that
we must do so in our personal prayer
life. Some Catholics do, others don't.
I know Catholics that pray the Rosary,
and others, like myself, that would
more often pray in tongues like our
Pentecostal and Charismatic brethren.
I would very much like to continue
to dialogue with you, if for no other
reason than to dispel any misconceptions
about Catholicism that you may well
have gotten, from:
- Catholics who either don't know
their faith, or
- from anti-Catholic Protestant
Christians who promote all kinds
of distortions about Catholic
Look, the Catholic Church teaches
and always has taught, that we are:
"saved by Grace through
faith and that not of ourselves,
not by works lest any man should
We don't earn our salvation. Mary
and the Saints are part of the Church
and as such, they can and do intercede
for us, as I hope you will for me
from now on. All that the Church
and Her members do in Christ's name,
and according to His will, is done
in the Power of the Holy Spirit working
through the members of His Body.
The Blood of Christ was sufficient
payment for all sin! When we come
to Christ, He not only declares us
righteous, but He makes us so. We
are fully confident, that:
- "he who began a good work
in you will bring it to completion
at the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians
- knowing that in "Him
we move and have our being."
As I said before, I'd like to continue
to stay in touch in a spirit of Christian
The questions that you ask are not
always easy to answer in a short
For now, I hope this helped.
Under His Mercy and in His Love,