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The Catechism of the Catholic Church Today on the Intercession of the Angels and Saints.


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This is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church states on this issue:

The Communion of Saints

946 After confessing "the holy catholic Church," the Apostles' Creed adds "the communion of saints." In a certain sense this article is a further explanation of the preceding: "What is the Church if not the assembly of all the saints?" (Nicetas, Expl. Symb., 10:PL 52:871B) The communion of saints is the Church.

947 "Since all the faithful form one body, the good of each is communicated to the others. . . . We must therefore believe that there exists a communion of goods in the Church. But the most important member is Christ, since he is the head. . . . Therefore, the riches of Christ are communicated to all the members, through the sacraments." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Symb., 10) "As this Church is governed by one and the same Spirit, all the goods she has received necessarily become a common fund." (Roman Catechism I, 10,24)

948 The term "communion of saints" therefore has two closely linked meanings: communion in holy things (sancta)" and "among holy persons (sancti)."

Sancta sanctis! ("God's holy gifts for God's holy people") is proclaimed by the celebrant in most Eastern liturgies during the elevation of the holy Gifts before the distribution of communion. The faithful (sancti) are fed by Christ's holy body and blood (sancta) to grow in the communion of the Holy Spirit (koinonia) and to communicate it to the world.

I. Communion In Spiritual Goods

949 In the primitive community of Jerusalem, the disciples "devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and the prayers." (Acts 2:42)

Communion in the faith. The faith of the faithful is the faith of the Church, received from the apostles. Faith is a treasure of life which is enriched by being shared.

950 Communion of the sacraments. "The fruit of all the sacraments belongs to all the faithful. All the sacraments are sacred links uniting the faithful with one another and binding them to Jesus Christ, and above all Baptism, the gate by which we enter into the Church. The communion of saints must be understood as the communion of the sacraments. . . . The name 'communion' can be applied to all of them, for they unite us to God. . . . But this name is better suited to the Eucharist than to any other, because it is primarily the Eucharist that brings this communion about." (Roman Catechism I, 10,24)

951 Communion of charisms. Within the communion of the Church, the Holy Spirit "distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank" for the building up of the Church. (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 12 § 2) Now, "to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good." (1 Corinthians 12:7)

952 "They had everything in common." (Acts 4:32) "Everything the true Christian has is to be regarded as a good possessed in common with everyone else. All Christians should be ready and eager to come to the help of the needy . . . and of their neighbors in want." (Roman Catechism I, 10,27) A Christian is a steward of the Lord's goods. (cf. Luke 16:1, 3)

953 Communion in charity. In the sanctorum communio, "None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself." (Romans 14:7) "If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it." (1 Corinthians 12:26-27) "Charity does not insist on its own way." (1 Corinthians 13:5; cf. 10:24) In this solidarity with all men, living or dead, which is founded on the communion of saints, the least of our acts done in charity redounds to the profit of all. Every sin harms this communion.


II. The Communion Of The Church Of Heaven And Earth


954 The three states of the Church. "When the Lord comes in glory, and all his angels with him, death will be no more and all things will be subject to him. But at the present time some of his disciples are pilgrims on earth. Others have died and are being purified, while still others are in glory, contemplating 'in full light, God himself triune and one, exactly as he is"': (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 49; cf. Matthew 25:31; 1 Corinthians 15:26-27; Council of Florence (1439):DS 1305)

All of us, however, in varying degrees and in different ways share in the same charity towards God and our neighbors, and we all sing the one hymn of glory to our God. All, indeed, who are of Christ and who have his Spirit form one Church and in Christ cleave together. (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 49; cf. Ephesians 4:16)

955 "So it is that the union of the wayfarers with the brethren who sleep in the peace of Christ is in no way interrupted, but on the contrary, according to the constant faith of the Church, this union is reinforced by an exchange of spiritual goods." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 49)

956 The intercession of the saints. "Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in Heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness. . . . They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus . . . . So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 49; cf. 1 Timothy 2:5)

Do not weep, for I shall be more useful to you after my death and I shall help you then more effectively than during my life.


St. Dominic, dying, to his brothers


I want to spend my Heaven in doing good on earth.


St. Thérèse of Lisieux, The Final Conversations

957 Communion with the saints. "It is not merely by the title of example that we cherish the memory of those in Heaven ; we seek, rather, that by this devotion to the exercise of fraternal charity the union of the whole Church in the Spirit may be strengthened. Exactly as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself" (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 50; cf. Ephesians 4:1-6):

We worship Christ as God's Son; we love the martyrs as the Lord's disciples and imitators, and rightly so because of their matchless devotion towards their king and master. May we also be their companions and fellow disciples!


Martyrium Polycarpi, 17: Apostolic Fathers II/3,396

958 Communion with the dead. "In full consciousness of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the Church in its pilgrim members, from the very earliest days of the Christian religion, has honored with great respect the memory of the dead; and 'because it is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins' she offers her suffrages for them." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 50; cf. 2 Maccabees 12:45) Our prayer for them is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us effective.

959 In the one family of God. "For if we continue to love one another and to join in praising the Most Holy Trinity - all of us who are sons of God and form one family in Christ - we will be faithful to the deepest vocation of the Church." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 51; cf. Hebrews 3:6)


In Brief

960 The Church is a "communion of saints": this expression refers first to the "holy things" (sancta), above all the Eucharist, by which "the unity of believers, who form one body in Christ, is both represented and brought about" (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 3).


961 The term "communion of saints" refers also to the communion of "holy persons" (sancti) in Christ who "died for all," so that what each one does or suffers in and for Christ bears fruit for all.


962 "We believe in the communion of all the faithful of Christ, those who are pilgrims on earth, the dead who are being purified, and the blessed in Heaven, all together forming one Church; and we believe that in this communion, the merciful love of God and his saints is always [attentive] to our prayers" (Pope Paul VI, Credo of the People of God § 30).

Mary - Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church


963 Since the Virgin Mary's role in the mystery of Christ and the Spirit has been treated, it is fitting now to consider her place in the mystery of the Church. "The Virgin Mary . . . is acknowledged and honored as being truly the Mother of God and of the redeemer. . . . She is 'clearly the mother of the members of Christ' . . . since she has by her charity joined in bringing about the birth of believers in the Church, who are members of its head." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 53; cf. St. Augustine, De virg. 6:PL 40,399) "Mary, Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church." (Pope Paul VI, Discourse, November 21, 1964)


I. Mary's Motherhood With Regard To The Church


Wholly united with her Son . . .

964 Mary's role in the Church is inseparable from her union with Christ and flows directly from it. "This union of the mother with the Son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ's virginal conception up to his death"; (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 57) it is made manifest above all at the hour of his Passion:

Thus the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross. There she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering, joining herself with his sacrifice in her mother's heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim, born of her: to be given, by the same Christ Jesus dying on the cross, as a mother to his disciple, with these words: "Woman, behold your son." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 58; cf. John 19:26-27)

965 After her Son's Ascension, Mary "aided the beginnings of the Church by her prayers." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 69) In her association with the apostles and several women, "we also see Mary by her prayers imploring the gift of the Spirit, who had already overshadowed her in the Annunciation." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 59)


. . . also in her Assumption


966 "Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 59; cf. Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus (1950):DS 3903; cf. Revelation 19:16) The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son's Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians:

In giving birth you kept your virginity; in your Dormition you did not leave the world, O Mother of God, but were joined to the source of Life. You conceived the living God and, by your prayers, will deliver our souls from death.


Byzantine Liturgy, Troparion, Feast of the Dormition, August 15th

. . . she is our Mother in the order of grace


967 By her complete adherence to the Father's will, to his Son's redemptive work, and to every prompting of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary is the Church's model of faith and charity. Thus she is a "preeminent and . . . wholly unique member of the Church"; indeed, she is the "exemplary realization" (typus) (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 53; 63) of the Church.


968 Her role in relation to the Church and to all humanity goes still further. "In a wholly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope, and burning charity in the Savior's work of restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason she is a mother to us in the order of grace." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 61)


969 "This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to Heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation . . . . Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 62)


970 "Mary's function as mother of men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power. But the Blessed Virgin's salutary influence on men . . . flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation, depends entirely on it, and draws all its power from it." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 60) "No creature could ever be counted along with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer; but just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by his ministers and the faithful, and as the one goodness of God is radiated in different ways among his creatures, so also the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a sharing in this one source." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 62)


II. Devotion To The Blessed Virgin


971 "All generations will call me blessed": "The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship." (Luke 1:48; Pope Paul VI, Marialis Cultus 56) The Church rightly honors "the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of 'Mother of God,' to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs. . . . This very special devotion . . . differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 66) The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an "epitome of the whole Gospel," express this devotion to the Virgin Mary. (cf. Pope Paul VI, Marialis Cultus 42; Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium 103)


III. Mary - Eschatological Icon Of The Church


972 After speaking of the Church, her origin, mission, and destiny, we can find no better way to conclude than by looking to Mary. In her we contemplate what the Church already is in her mystery on her own "pilgrimage of faith," and what she will be in the homeland at the end of her journey. There, "in the glory of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity," "in the communion of all the saints," (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 69) the Church is awaited by the one she venerates as Mother of her Lord and as her own mother.


In the meantime the Mother of Jesus, in the glory which she possesses in body and soul in Heaven, is the image and beginning of the Church as it is to be perfected in the world to come. Likewise she shines forth on earth until the day of the Lord shall come, a sign of certain hope and comfort to the pilgrim People of God." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 68; cf. 2 Peter 3 10)



In Brief


973 By pronouncing her "fiat" at the Annunciation and giving her consent to the Incarnation, Mary was already collaborating with the whole work her Son was to accomplish. She is mother wherever he is Savior and head of the Mystical Body.


974 The Most Blessed Virgin Mary, when the course of her earthly life was completed, was taken up body and soul into the glory of Heaven, where she already shares in the glory of her Son's Resurrection, anticipating the resurrection of all members of his Body.


975 "We believe that the Holy Mother of God, the new Eve, Mother of the Church, continues in Heaven to exercise her maternal role on behalf of the members of Christ" (Pope Paul VI, Credo of the People of God § 15)





In communion with the holy Mother of God


2673 In prayer the Holy Spirit unites us to the person of the only Son, in his glorified humanity, through which and in which our filial prayer unites us in the Church with the Mother of Jesus. (cf. Acts 1:14)


2674 Mary gave her consent in faith at the Annunciation and maintained it without hesitation at the foot of the Cross. Ever since, her motherhood has extended to the brothers and sisters of her Son "who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 62) Jesus, the only mediator, is the way of our prayer; Mary, his mother and ours, is wholly transparent to him: she "shows the way" (hodigitria), and is herself "the Sign" of the way, according to the traditional


2675 Beginning with Mary's unique cooperation with the working of the Holy Spirit, the Churches developed their prayer to the holy Mother of God, centering it on the person of Christ manifested in his mysteries. In countless hymns and antiphons expressing this prayer, two movements usually alternate with one another: the first "magnifies" the Lord for the "great things" he did for his lowly servant and through her for all human beings (cf. Luke 1:46-55) the second entrusts the supplications and praises of the children of God to the Mother of Jesus, because she now knows the humanity which, in her, the Son of God espoused.


2676 This twofold movement of prayer to Mary has found a privileged expression in the
Ave Maria[ — Hail Mary]:


Hail Mary [or Rejoice, Mary]: the greeting of the angel Gabriel opens this prayer. It is God himself who, through his angel as intermediary, greets Mary. Our prayer dares to take up this greeting to Mary with the regard God had for the lowliness of his humble servant and to exult in the joy he finds in her. (cf. Luke 1:48; Zephaniah 3:17b)


Full of grace, the Lord is with thee: These two phrases of the angel's greeting shed light on one another. Mary is full of grace because the Lord is with her. The grace with which she is filled is the presence of him who is the source of all grace. "Rejoice . . . O Daughter of Jerusalem . . . the Lord your God is in your midst." (Zephaniah 3:14,17a) Mary, in whom the Lord himself has just made his dwelling, is the daughter of Zion in person, the ark of the covenant, the place where the glory of the Lord dwells. She is "the dwelling of God . . . with men." (Revelation 21:3) Full of grace, Mary is wholly given over to him who has come to dwell in her and whom she is about to give to the world.


Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. After the angel's greeting, we make Elizabeth's greeting our own. "Filled with the Holy Spirit," Elizabeth is the first in the long succession of generations who have called Mary "blessed." (Luke 1:41, 48) "Blessed is she who believed. . . . " (Luke 1:45) Mary is "blessed among women" because she believed in the fulfillment of the Lord's word. Abraham. because of his faith, became a blessing for all the nations of the earth. (cf. Genesis 12:3) Mary, because of her faith, became the mother of believers, through whom all nations of the earth receive him who is God's own blessing: Jesus, the "fruit of thy womb."


2677 Holy Mary, Mother of God: With Elizabeth we marvel, "And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" (Luke 1:43) Because she gives us Jesus, her son, Mary is Mother of God and our mother; we can entrust all our cares and petitions to her: she prays for us as she prayed for herself: "Let it be to me according to your word." (Luke 1:38) By entrusting ourselves to her prayer, we abandon ourselves to the will of God together with her: "Thy will be done."


Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death: By asking Mary to pray for us, we acknowledge ourselves to be poor sinners and we address ourselves to the "Mother of Mercy," the All-Holy One. We give ourselves over to her now, in the Today of our lives. And our trust broadens further, already at the present moment, to surrender "the hour of our death" wholly to her care. May she be there as she was at her son's death on the cross. May she welcome us as our mother at the hour of our passing (cf. John 19:27) to lead us to her son, Jesus, in paradise.


2678 Medieval piety in the West developed the prayer of the rosary as a popular substitute for the Liturgy of the Hours. In the East, the litany called the Akathistos and the Paraclesis remained closer to the choral office in the Byzantine churches, while the Armenian, Coptic, and Syriac traditions preferred popular hymns and songs to the Mother of God. But in the Ave Maria, the theotokia, the hymns of St. Ephrem or St. Gregory of Narek, the tradition of prayer is basically the same.


2679 Mary is the perfect Orans (pray-er), a figure of the Church. When we pray to her, we are adhering with her to the plan of the Father, who sends his Son to save all men. Like the beloved disciple we welcome Jesus' mother into our homes, (cf. John 19:27) for she has become the mother of all the living. We can pray with and to her. The prayer of the Church is sustained by the prayer of Mary and united with it in hope. (cf. Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 68-69)


In Brief


2680 Prayer is primarily addressed to the Father; it can also be directed toward Jesus, particularly by the invocation of his holy name: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us sinners."


2681 "No one can say 'Jesus is Lord', except by the Holy Spirit". (1 Corinthians 12:3) The Church invites us to invoke the Holy Spirit as the interior Teacher of Christian prayer.


2682 Because of Mary's singular cooperation with the action of the Holy Spirit, the Church loves to pray in communion with the Virgin Mary, to magnify with her the great things the Lord has done for her, and to entrust supplications and praises to her.




In The Age Of The Church


2623 On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit of the Promise was poured out on the disciples, gathered "together in one place." (Acts 2:1) While awaiting the Spirit, "all these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer." (Acts 1:14) The Spirit who teaches the Church and recalls for her everything that Jesus said (cf. John 14:26) was also to form her in the life of prayer.


2624 In the first community of Jerusalem, believers "devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and the prayers." (Acts 2:42) This sequence is characteristic of the Church's prayer: founded on the apostolic faith; authenticated by charity; nourished in the Eucharist.


2625 In the first place these are prayers that the faithful hear and read in the Scriptures, but also that they make their own - especially those of the Psalms, in view of their fulfillment in Christ. (cf. Luke 24:27,44) The Holy Spirit, who thus keeps the memory of Christ alive in his Church at prayer, also leads her toward the fullness of truth and inspires new formulations expressing the unfathomable mystery of Christ at work in his Church's life, sacraments, and mission. These formulations are developed in the great liturgical and spiritual traditions. The forms of prayer revealed in the apostolic and canonical Scriptures remain normative for Christian prayer.


I. Blessing And Adoration


2626 Blessing expresses the basic movement of Christian prayer: it is an encounter between God and man. In blessing, God's gift and man's acceptance of it are united in dialogue with each other. The prayer of blessing is man's response to God's gifts: because God blesses, the human heart can in return bless the One who is the source of every blessing.


2627 Two fundamental forms express this movement:

  1. our prayer ascends in the Holy Spirit through Christ to the Father - we bless him for having blessed us; (cf. Ephesians 1:3-14; 2 Corinthians 1:3-7; 1 Peter 1:3-9)
  2. it implores the grace of the Holy Spirit that descends through Christ from the Father -
    he blesses us. (cf. 2 Corinthians 13:14; Romans 15:5-6,13; Ephesians 6:23-24)

2628 Adoration is the first attitude of man acknowledging that he is a creature before his Creator. It exalts the greatness of the Lord who made us (cf. Psalm 95:1-6) and the almighty power of the Savior who sets us free from evil. Adoration is homage of the spirit to the "King of Glory," (Psalm 24, 9-10) respectful silence in the presence of the "ever greater" God. (cf. St. Augustine, En. in Ps. 62,16:PL 36,757-758) Adoration of the thrice-holy and sovereign God of love blends with humility and gives assurance to our supplications.


II. Prayer Of Petition


2629 The vocabulary of supplication in the New Testament is rich in shades of meaning: ask, beseech, plead, invoke, entreat, cry out, even "struggle in prayer." (cf. Romans 15:30; Colossians 4:12) Its most usual form, because the most spontaneous, is petition: by prayer of petition we express awareness of our relationship with God. We are creatures who are not our own beginning, not the masters of adversity, not our own last end. We are sinners who as Christians know that we have turned away from our Father. Our petition is already a turning back to him.


2630 The New Testament contains scarcely any prayers of lamentation, so frequent in the Old Testament. In the risen Christ the Church's petition is buoyed by hope, even if we still wait in a state of expectation and must be converted anew every day. Christian petition, what St. Paul calls "groaning," arises from another depth, that of creation "in labor pains" and that of ourselves "as we wait for the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved." (Romans 8:22-24) In the end, however, "with sighs too deep for words" the Holy Spirit "helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words." (Romans 8:26)


2631 The first movement of the prayer of petition is asking forgiveness, like the tax collector in the parable: "God, be merciful to me a sinner!" (Luke 18:13) It is a prerequisite for righteous and pure prayer. A trusting humility brings us back into the light of communion between the Father and his Son Jesus Christ and with one another, so that "we receive from him whatever we ask." (1 John 3:22; cf. 1:7-2:2) Asking forgiveness is the prerequisite for both the Eucharistic liturgy and personal prayer.


2632 Christian petition is centered on the desire and search for the Kingdom to come, in keeping with the teaching of Christ. (cf. Matthew 6:10,33; Luke 11:2,13) There is a hierarchy in these petitions: we pray first for the Kingdom, then for what is necessary to welcome it and cooperate with its coming. This collaboration with the mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit, which is now that of the Church, is the object of the prayer of the apostolic community. (cf. Acts 6:6; 13:3) It is the prayer of Paul, the apostle par excellence, which reveals to us how the divine solicitude for all the churches ought to inspire Christian prayer. (cf. Romans 10:1; Ephesians 1:16-23; Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 1:3-6; 4:3-4,12) By prayer every baptized person works for the coming of the Kingdom.


2633 When we share in God's saving love, we understand that every need can become the object of petition. Christ, who assumed all things in order to redeem all things, is glorified by what we ask the Father in his name. (cf. John 14:13) It is with this confidence that St. James and St. Paul exhort us to pray at all times. (cf. James 1:5-8; Ephesians 5:20; Philippians 4:6-7; Colossians 3:16-17; 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18)


III. Prayer Of Intercession


2634 Intercession is a prayer of petition which leads us to pray as Jesus did. He is the one intercessor with the Father on behalf of all men, especially sinners. (cf. Romans 8:34; 1 John 2:1; 1 Timothy 2:5-8) He is "able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them." (Hebrews 7:25) The Holy Spirit "himself intercedes for us . . . and intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." (Romans 8:26 27)


2635 Since Abraham, intercession - asking on behalf of another has been characteristic of a heart attuned to God's mercy. In the age of the Church, Christian intercession participates in Christ's, as an expression of the communion of saints. In intercession, he who prays looks "not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others," even to the point of praying for those who do him harm. (Philippians 2:4; cf. Acts 7:60; Luke 23:28,34)


2636 The first Christian communities lived this form of fellowship intensely. (cf. Acts 12:5; 20:36; 21:5; 2 Corinthians 9:14) Thus the Apostle Paul gives them a share in his ministry of preaching the Gospel (cf. Ephesians 6:18-20; Colossians 4:3-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:25) but also intercedes for them. (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:11; Colossians 1:3; Philippians 1:3-4) The intercession of Christians recognizes no boundaries: "for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions," for persecutors, for the salvation of those who reject the Gospel. (2 Timothy 2:1; cf. Romans 12:14; 10:1)


IV. Prayer Of Thanksgiving


2637 Thanksgiving characterizes the prayer of the Church which, in celebrating the Eucharist, reveals and becomes more fully what she is. Indeed, in the work of salvation, Christ sets creation free from sin and death to consecrate it anew and make it return to the Father, for his glory. The thanksgiving of the members of the Body participates in that of their Head.


2638 As in the prayer of petition, every event and need can become an offering of thanksgiving. The letters of St. Paul often begin and end with thanksgiving, and the Lord Jesus is always present in it: "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you"; "Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving." (1 Thessalonians 5:18; Colossians 4:2)


V. Prayer Of Praise


2639 Praise is the form of prayer which recognizes most immediately that God is God. It lauds God for his own sake and gives him glory, quite beyond what he does, but simply because HE IS. It shares in the blessed happiness of the pure of heart who love God in faith before seeing him in glory. By praise, the Spirit is joined to our spirits to bear witness that we are children of God, (cf. Romans 8:16) testifying to the only Son in whom we are adopted and by whom we glorify the Father. Praise embraces the other forms of prayer and carries them toward him who is its source and goal: the "one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist." (1 Corinthians 8:6)


2640 St. Luke in his gospel often expresses wonder and praise at the marvels of Christ and in his Acts of the Apostles stresses them as actions of the Holy Spirit: the community of Jerusalem, the invalid healed by Peter and John, the crowd that gives glory to God for that, and the pagans of Pisidia who "were glad and glorified the word of God." (Acts 2:47; 3:9; 4:21; 13:48)


2641 "[Address] one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart." (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16) Like the inspired writers of the New Testament, the first Christian communities read the Book of Psalms in a new way, singing in it the mystery of Christ. In the newness of the Spirit, they also composed hymns and canticles in the light of the unheard-of event that God accomplished in his Son: his Incarnation, his death which conquered death, his Resurrection, and Ascension to the right hand of the Father. (cf. Philippians 2:6-11; Colossians 1:15-20; Ephesians 5:14; 1 Timothy 3:16; 6:15-16; 2 Timothy 2:11-13)


Doxology, the praise of God, arises from this "marvelous work" of the whole economy of salvation. (cf. Ephesians 1:3-14; Romans 16:25-27; Ephesians 3:20-21; Jude 24-25)


2642 The Revelation of "what must soon take place," the Apocalypse, is borne along by the songs of the heavenly liturgy (cf. Revelation 4:8-11; 5:9-14; 7:10-12) but also by the intercession of the "witnesses" (martyrs). (Revelation 6:10) The prophets and the saints, all those who were slain on earth for their witness to Jesus, the vast throng of those who, having come through the great tribulation, have gone before us into the Kingdom, all sing the praise and glory of him who sits on the throne, and of the Lamb. (cf. Revelation 18:24; 19:1-8) In communion with them, the Church on earth also sings these songs with faith in the midst of trial. By means of petition and intercession, faith hopes against all hope and gives thanks to the "Father of lights," from whom "every perfect gift" comes down. (James 1:17) Thus faith is pure praise.


2643 The Eucharist contains and expresses all forms of prayer: it is "the pure offering" of the whole Body of Christ to the glory of God's name (cf. Malachi 1:11) and, according to the traditions of East and West, it is the "sacrifice of praise."


In Brief

2644 The Holy Spirit who teaches the Church and recalls to her all that Jesus said also instructs her in the life of prayer, inspiring new expressions of the same basic forms of prayer: blessing, petition, intercession, thanksgiving, and praise.


2645 Because God blesses the human heart, it can in return bless him who is the source of every blessing.


2646 Forgiveness, the quest for the Kingdom, and every true need are objects of the prayer of petition.


2647 Prayer of intercession consists in asking on behalf of another. It knows no boundaries and extends to one's enemies.


2648 Every joy and suffering, every event and need can become the matter for thanksgiving which, sharing in that of Christ, should fill one's whole life: "Give thanks in all circumstances". (1 Thessalonians 5:18)


2649 Prayer of praise is entirely disinterested and rises to God, lauds him, and gives him glory for his own sake, quite beyond what he has done, but simply because HE IS.




Guides For Prayer — A cloud of witnesses


2683 The witnesses who have preceded us into the kingdom, (cf. Hebrews 12:1) especially those whom the Church recognizes as saints, share in the living tradition of prayer by the example of their lives, the transmission of their writings, and their prayer today. They contemplate God, praise him and constantly care for those whom they have left on earth. When they entered into the joy of their Master, they were "put in charge of many things." (cf. Matthew 25:21) Their intercession is their most exalted service to God's plan. We can and should ask them to intercede for us and for the whole world.


2684 In the communion of saints, many and varied spiritualities have been developed throughout the history of the churches. The personal charism of some witnesses to God's love for men has been handed on, like "the spirit" of Elijah to Elisha and John the Baptist, so that their followers may have a share in this spirit. (cf. 2 Kings 2:9; Luke 1:1; Vatican II, Perfectae Caritatis 2)
A distinct spirituality can also arise at the point of convergence of liturgical and theological currents, bearing witness to the integration of the faith into a particular human environment and its history. The different schools of Christian spirituality share in the living tradition of prayer and are essential guides for the faithful. In their rich diversity they are refractions of the one pure light of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit is truly the dwelling of the saints and the saints are for the Spirit a place where he dwells as in his own home since they offer themselves as a dwelling place for God and are called his temple.


St. Basil, De Spiritu Sancto, 26,62:PG 32,184

In Brief


2692 In prayer, the pilgrim Church is associated with that of the saints, whose intercession she asks.


2693 The different schools of Christian spirituality share in the living tradition of prayer and are precious guides for the spiritual life.




  1. Church of Antioch, (A.D. c.30-40)
    St. Ignatius of Antioch, (A.D. 50-107)
    St. Justin Martyr, (A.D. 100-163)
    St. Irenæus of Lyons, (A.D. 125-202)
    St. Clement of Alexandria, (A.D. 150-220)
    Origen of Alexandria, (A.D. 184-253)
    Pectorius of Autun, (end of 2nd to beginning of the 3rd century)
    St. Cyprian of Carthage, (A.D. 200-258)
    St. Ephrem the Syrian, (of Edessa), (A.D. 306-378)
    St. Hilary of Poitiers, (A.D. 315-367)
    St. Cyril of Jerusalem, (A.D. 315-386)
    St. Gregory of Nazianzen, (A.D. 318-389)
    St. Gregory of Nyssa, (A.D. c.335 - c.394)
    St. Ambrose of Milan, (A.D. 340-396)
    St. Jerome, (A.D. 342-420)
    St. John Chrysostom, (A.D. 344 - 407)
    Prudentius, (A.D. 348-c.413)
    St. Maximus, (unknown-A.D.423)
    St. Paulinus of Nola, (A.D. 353-431)
    St. Augustine of Hippo, (A.D. 354-428)
    Sulpicius Severus, (A.D. c.363-c.425)
    The Liturgy of Saint Basil, (A.D. 370-379)
    St. Valerian (of Abbenza), (A.D. 377-445)
    St. Nilus the Elder, (A.D. c.385 - c.430)
    St. Isidore of Pelusium, (unknown - A.D. 440)
    Theodoret of Cyrus or Cyrrhus, (A.D. 393-458)
    St. Avitus, (Alcimus Ecdicius), (A.D. c.470-525)
Church of Antioch, (A.D. c.30-40), one of the five major churches that composed the Christian Church before the East-West Schism, traces its origins to the Christian community founded in Antioch by the Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul.

Having described the martyrdom of St. Ignatius, the epistle continues:

"We were eye-witnesses of these things with tears; and we passed the whole night within doors, often with bendings of the knee and prayer calling upon the Lord to strengthen us who had been weakened by what had taken place. Having fallen asleep for a little while, some of us saw him of a sudden standing by us and embracing us, whilst others, again, saw the blessed Ignatius praying over us.. . . And we have made known to you the day and the time (of his martyrdom); in order that being assembled together, we may communicate with the champion and noble martyr of Christ, who trod under foot the devil, arid finished, according to his Christ-loving desire, his course, in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Martyr. S. Ignatii, n. 7.
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St. Ignatius of Antioch, (A.D. 50-107), Syrian; ecclesiastical writer, bishop, martyr. A disciple of St. John, the Apostle; he was bishop of Antioch, in which see he succeeded St. Peter, or, as others think, Evodius. He is supposed to have governed that church for about forty years. He suffered martyrdom at Rome in the year 107.

"Subject to your bishop, as to the commandment, and to the presbytery likewise . . . my spirit be your expiation, not now only, but when I shall have attained to God."

Ep. ad Troll, n. 13.
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St. Justin Martyr, (A.D. 100-163), Samaritan; born in Sichem (Naplousia) in Palestine; a platonic philosopher, apologist, and martyr for the faith; he was a convert to Catholic Christianity in A.D. 133. He wrote two Apologies for the Christian religion, one addressed to Antoninus, the other to Marcus Aurelius. He was martyred at Rome in the year 163.

"Hence we have also been called Atheists, and we confess that we are unbelievers (Atheists) of such pretended gods, but not of the most true (God), and Father of righteousness and temperance, and of the other virtues, and of a God in whom there is no mixture of evil: but both Him, and the Son who came from Him, and taught us these things, and the host of the other good angels that follow and resemble (Him, or them), and the prophetic spirit, we venerate and adore, honoring in reason and truth, and freely delivering, to every one who wishes to learn, even as we have been taught."

Apol i. n. 6.
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St. Irenæus of Lyons, (A.D. 125-202), Asia Minor; bishop, missionary, theologian, defender of orthodoxy. Though by birth a Greek, he was Bishop of Lyons in the second century. He tells us that, in his early youth, he learned the rudiments of religion from St. Polycarp, the disciple of St. John the Apostle. He wrote several works, of which only a few fragments are now known, with the exception of his Treatise against Heretics which we have in five books.

"As Eve, through the discourse of a (fallen) angel, was seduced so as to flee from God, having transgressed His word; so also Mary, through the discourse of a (good) angel, was evangelized so as to bear God, being obedient to His word. And if Eve disobeyed God, yet Mary was persuaded to obey God, that the virgin Mary might be come the advocate of the virgin Eve. And as the human race was bound to death through a virgin, it is saved through a virgin; the scales being equally balanced; virginal disobedience by virginal obedience."

Adv. Hceres. L. v. c. xix. p. 316.
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St. Clement of Alexandria, (A.D. 150-220), Greek; theologian, a scholar of Pantaenus, to whom he succeeded as head of the Catechetical School at Alexandria, Egypt. His writings display great acquaintance with the Gentile philosophy. He wrote with the express design of hiding the mysteries of the Christian religion from the Pagans, and the uninitiated, while at the same time, laboring to show the immense practical superiority of the Christian code of morals over that of every Pagan sect and system of philosophy.

"The perfect Christian prays together with angels, as being already the equal of angels; nor is he ever out of the holy guardianship, even though he may pray alone, he has the choir of the holy ones standing by."

Strom. L. vii. p. 879.
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Origen of Alexandria, (A.D. 184-253), Alexandrian; born in Egypt, philosopher, theologian, writer.

But not the high priest [Christ] alone prays for those who pray sincerely, but also the angels... as also the souls of the saints who have already fallen asleep.

On Prayer II [A.D. 233]

"Wherefore, it is not unfitting to offer up supplication, and intercession and thanksgiving (1 Timothy 2) to the saints, . . . that they may aid us, making us worthy to attain to the power bestowed on them for the forgiveness of sins: unless perhaps, although one be not a saint, but we have injured him, it be granted us, when we have become sensible of the offence committed against him, to supplicate such a one, to bestow forgiveness on us who have been guilty of the injustice. But if these are to be offered up to holy men, how much more is thanksgiving to be made to Christ who has, by the will of the Father, benefited us so greatly?"

T. i. De Oratione, n. xiv. p. 221.
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"If we wish that there be a multitude of those whom we desire to be kindly disposed towards us, we learn that "ten thousand times a hundred thousand stand before him, and thousands of thousands minister to him." (Daniel 7.) who, regarding as relatives and friends those who imitate their piety towards God, co-operate in the salvation of those who call upon God, and pray sincerely, appearing to them, and thinking that they ought to obey, and, as though by some compact, to come, for the benefit and salvation of those who are praying to God, to whom they also pray. For they "are all ministering spirits, etc." (Hebrews 1:14) Jesus has taught us not to despise the little ones in the Church, saying, "that their angels always see the face of my Father, who is in Heaven"

T. i. Contr. Cels. l. viii. n. 34, pp. 766-7.
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Pectorius of Autun, (end of 2nd to beginning of the 3rd century), French, nothing is known of his personal history. The name with which the important document frequently known as the Inscription of Autun concludes. Authorship of this Inscription is usually attributed to him.

Aschandius, my father, dearly beloved of my heart, with my sweet mother and my brethren, remember your Pectorius in the peace of the Fish [Christ]

Epitaph of Pectorius [A.D. 373]

St. Cyprian of Carthage, (A.D. 200-258), North African; bishop; biblical scholar, martyr.

Let us remember one another in concord and unanimity. Let us on both sides always pray for one another. Let us relieve burdens and afflictions by mutual love, that if one of us, by the swiftness of divine condescension, shall go hence the first, our love may continue in the presence of the Lord, and our prayers for our brethren and sisters not cease in the presence of the Father's mercy.

Letters 56[60]:5 [A.D. 252]

St. Ephrem the Syrian, (of Edessa), (A.D. 306-378), Syrian; born in Nisebis, deacon, hymnist, poet. His works were even during his own lifetime almost all translated into Greek, and were, as St. Jerome informs us, held in such high estimation, as to be read in some churches after the Holy Scriptures. We have his life by St. Gregory of Nyssa.

Remember me, you heirs of God, you brethren of Christ; supplicate the Savior earnestly for me, that I may be freed through Christ from him that fights against me day by day.

De Timore, Anim. in fin. [A.D. 370]

St. Hilary of Poitiers, (A.D. 315-367), French; husband, theologian, bishop of Poiters around A.D. 355, and Doctor of the Church. Referred to as the "Hammer of the Arians" and the "Athanasius of the West.". He was obviously a firm supporter of St. Athanasius.

To those who would fain to stand, neither the guardianship of saints nor the defenses of angels are wanting.

Commentary on the Psalms 124:5:6 [A.D. 365]

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, (A.D. 315-386), Palestinian; ordained by Maximus, he was made bishop of Jerusalem in A.D. 345; scholar and Doctor of the Church. None of his writings have been preserved to us, except eighteen catechetical instructions addressed to catechumens, and five mystagogic discourses addressed to neophytes.

Then [during the Eucharistic prayer] we make mention also of those who have already fallen asleep: first, the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, that through their prayers and supplications God would receive our petition...

Catechetical Lectures 23:9 [A.D. 350]

St. Gregory of Nazianzen, (A.D. 318-389), Cappadocian; archbishop, theologian, Doctor of the Church.

Yes, I am well assured that [my father's] intercession is of more avail now than was his instruction in former days, since he is closer to God, now that he has shaken off his bodily fetters, and freed his mind from the clay that obscured it, and holds conversation naked with the nakedness of the prime and purest mind . . .

Orations 18:4 [A.D. 374]

May you [Cyprian] look down from above propitiously upon us, and guide our word and life; and shepherd this sacred flock . . . gladden the Holy Trinity, before which you stand.

Orations 17 [24] [A.D. 376]

St. Gregory of Nyssa, (A.D. c.335 - c.394), bishop of Nyssa in A.D. 371, an erudite theologian who made significant contributions to the doctrine of the Trinity and the Nicene creed. Gregory's philosophical writings were influenced by Origen. He was the brother of the great St. Basil.

Do you, [Ephraem] that art standing at the divine altar . . . bear us all in remembrance, petitioning for us the remission of sins, and the fruition of an everlasting kingdom.

Sermon on Ephraem the Syrian [A.D. 380]

St. Ambrose of Milan, (A.D. 340-396), German; reluctantly made bishop in the A.D. 374., Doctor of the Church. He closed a great and glorious career in A.D. 396. We have his life by Paulinus.

May Peter, who wept so efficaciously for himself, weep for us and turn towards us Christ's benign countenance.

Hexameron 5:25:90 [A.D. 388]

St. Jerome, (A.D. 342-420), Dalmatian; born in Strido; priest, hermit, abbot, biblical scholar, translator and Doctor of the Church. In an age distinguished by men of the greatest eloquence and learning, St. Jerome, especially in all matters connected with the Sacred Scriptures, was then preeminent, and has probably never since been equalled.

You say in your book that while we live we are able to pray for each other, but afterwards when we have died, the prayer of no person for another can be heard . . . But if the apostles and martyrs while still in the body can pray for others, at a time when they ought still be solicitous about themselves, how much more will they do so after their crowns, victories, and triumphs?

Against Vigilantius 6 [A.D. 406]

St. John Chrysostom, (A.D. 344 - 407), Syrian; archbishop, Doctor of the Church. Born at Antioch in 344; he was ordained priest in A.D. 383, and raised to the see of Constantinople in the year A.D. 398. His eloquence gained him the title of Chrysostom, or the mouth of gold. His expositions of Scripture, especially the Epistles of St. Paul, are very valuable. This illustrious prelate died on his road to exile, in A.D. 407.

He that wears the purple . . . stands begging of the saints to be his patrons with God, and he that wears a diadem begs the tent-maker [Paul] and the fisherman [Peter] as patrons, even though they be dead".

Homilies on 2 Corinthians 26 [A.D. 392]

When you perceive that God is chastening you, fly not to his enemies . . . but to his friends, the martyrs, the saints, and those who were pleasing to him, and who have great power [in God].

Orations 8:6 [A.D. 396]

Prudentius, (Aurelius Prudentius Clemens), (A.D. 348-c.413), Roman Christian poet, born in the Roman province of Tarraconensis, now Northern Spain. He probably died in Spain, as well. The hymn Salvete, flores Martyrum, is by this writer.

"The inhabitants of the place flock to the sands that received their blood (the martyrs Hemeterius and Cheledonius), supplicating with prayer, with vows, with gifts: strangers, and the world's denizen, come hither, for fame has told and spread over every land, that here are the patrons of the world, whom they are to pay their court to by prayer. No one has here poured forth in vain pure prayers in supplication: the petitioner, his tears wiped away, has gone his way rejoicing, feeling that his every just petition has been obtained.

So great is the solicitude of these that aid us with their suffrages in our varied trials. They let not the slightest murmured wish be put forth vainly: they hear, and instantly bear it to the ear of the Everlasting King, whence gifts flow upon earth in bounteous streams, derived from Him. Christ, in His bounty, has never refused anything to His witnesses."

Hymn. i. v. 8-21, Galland, t. viii. p. 435.
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"On earth a doctor, in Heaven a martyr (St. Cyprian); here he instructs mankind, thence as a patron, he bestows pious gifts."

Hymn. xiii. Passio. B. Cypr. 105-6, p. 467.
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"Be thou now present amongst us, and receive the suppliant cries of (thy) petitioners, thou effective pleader for our sins at the Father s throne. For thine own sake, by thy prison, thy chains . . . that couch of thine which we kiss with trembling, have pity on our prayers, that Christ, appeased, may turn a favoring ear to His own, not impute to us all our crimes."

Ibid. v. 545-60.
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St. Maximus, (unknown-A.D.423), Italian; bishop of Turin and theological writer, he assisted at the Council of Milan in 451, and that of Rome in 465. Maximus is believed to have been a native of Rhaetia.

"While honoring with an annual solemnity the two most glorious princes of the Christian faith (Peter and Paul), we venerate with a fitting act of religion our Lord and God Himself, who is the author of that faith. For an apostle signifies, in the Latin tongue, a messenger; whoso, therefore, honors the messenger, is plainly honoring Him who sent that messenger, since the honor (which is) paid to the servant, is, with out doubt, shown to Him whose servant he is, agreeably to what the Saviour Himself says to His disciples: "He that heareth you, heareth me, and he that recieves you recieves me." Merits in truth are those of the blessed Apostles, in whose persons Christ proclaims that He is both "received and heard". Blessed nevertheless are they also, whose devotion though rendered to Apostles flows back to Christ."

Hom. i, in Natal. BB. App. Petr. et Paul. p. 34, Ib.
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St. Paulinus of Nola, (A.D. 353-431), Roman; convert and bishop Of Nola, Born at Bordeaux he was ordained priest in 393, and was appointed bishop of Nola in 409; may have been indirectly responsible for Augustine's Confessions. One who knew St. Paulinus well says he was "meek as Moses, as priestly as Aaron, innocent as Samuel, tender as David, wise as Solomon, apostolic as Peter, loving as John, cautious as Thomas, brilliant as Stephen, fervent as Apollos."

"Pray that blessed Gennasius (martyr), who stands by the throne of the Lord . . . may be a patron to priests, ministers, clergy, and to us all, and to him who has written this for your instruction."

Martyr. S. Gennas. p. 251, t. vi. Bib. Maxim. SS. PP.
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St. Augustine of Hippo, (A.D. 354-428), North African; born in Tagaste in A.D. 354, baptized in Milan in A.D. 387, ordained a priest in A.D. 391 and appointed bishop of Hippo in A.D. 395, Augustine is one of our greatest theologians. His numerous works display genius of the highest order, and have ever had great weight in the Christian churches. He is also a Doctor of the Church.

A Christian people celebrate together in religious solemnity the memorials of the martyrs, both to encourage their being imitated and so that it can share in their merits and be aided by their prayers.

Against Faustus the Manichean [A.D. 400]

"Does any grief touch the dead, in regard of those things which befall their (living) friends? or are they at least to be supposed to know these things, they whose existence is elsewhere, either for good, or for evil, according to their deserts! To which I answer, that the question is indeed a great one, not to be discussed at present, which shall be for a longer work, whether, or how far, or in what way, the spirit of the dead know the things which happen in our regard. However, as may be briefly remarked, if they had no care in regard of us, the Lord would not declare that the rich man who was suffering torments in Hell, said, "I have there five brethren: lest they also come into this place of torment." (Luke 15) But in whatsoever way they may understand this, they who try to understand it in a different way; and since it must be acknowledged that it does not follow that, if the dead know that their friends are living, because they neither see them in the places of punishments, where that rich man was, nor in the rest of the blessed, where he recognized, though afar off, Lazarus and Abraham, that they must therefore necessarily know the joys or the sorrows which befall those dear to them."

T. iv. in Ps. cviii. n. 17, col 1741.
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Sulpicius Severus, (A.D. c.363-c.425), a Christian writer and native of Aquitania. He is known for his chronicle of sacred history, as well as his biography of Saint Martin of Tours.

Having described St. Martin's appearance to him, at the moment of his (St. Martin s) death, he says: "I cannot help grieving. I have, it is true, sent before me a patron, but I have lost the solace of this present life. ... He will not be wanting unto us; he will be present at our conversations concerning him; he will be by us as we pray; and as he has vouchsafed this, so will he often show himself to us in his glory, and will protect us, as he has done but a little while since, with his blessing. . . . This hope is left, this only, this last hope, that what we are unable to obtain by our own efforts, we may at least merit (to obtain) by Martin's prayers for us."

Ep. ii. ad Aurel. De Obit, et Appar. B. Mart. Galland, t. iii. pp. 400-1.
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The Liturgy of Saint Basil, A.D. 370-379, is a term for several Eastern Christian celebrations of the Divine Liturgy (the Eucharist) which have been attributed to St. Basil the Great, who was Bishop of Cæsarea in Cappadocia from A.D. 370 to 379.

By the command of your only-begotten Son we communicate with the memory of your saints . . . by whose prayers and supplications have mercy upon us all, and deliver us for the sake of your holy name.

Liturgy of St. Basil [A.D. 373]

St. Valerian (of Abbenza), (A.D. 377-445), bishop of Abbenza in North Africa. He was martyred in 457 when he refused to surrender the sacred vessels of his church to the Vandals led by Arian king Geiseric. Valerian was driven out of the city and left to die of exposure.

"If there be any one amongst you who seeks sedulously for consolation from Christ, let him by alms dry up the tears of others, and sedulously commend his own tears to this patron, in honor of whom we have met together, and let him recommend himself by a numerous patronage, in order that he may the more easily obtain whatever things he may suggest to the Lord for his own benefit. We must at all times present ourselves before the friends of God, and be of service to our neighbors, and petition without ceasing, that we may be able to obtain the aid (suffrage) of a holy intercession. What chance of pardon will there be from the just Judge, if thou knowest not how to supplicate the King's friends? Finally, notice the order pursued in the ways of the World, and you will understand what care should be yours in the matter of paying attention to the saints. There is no doubt that unless his mind, who watches over the chief governor's house, be made favorable to you, it is not easy to arrive at the friendship of the higher power. The aid of patrons is to be sedulously sought after, patrons who alone know how to be able to appease the mind of the angry lord, and to temper his wrath. In a great house, therefore, there is always, after the master, a second rank of friends. They are the only ones through whom there is furnished at once an opportunity of making known (our wishes) to the lord, and an easy access is afforded to obtain them. The memory, therefore, of the saints is to be cultivated by us with peculiar veneration, in order that they may open the gate of salvation, and may cause the desires of our lowliness to come to the knowledge of the Lord. For it is a great part of safety, to have had, in matters of difficulty, aid (suffrage) from the house of the King. For the odium of crime is in some way lessened, when the guilty person has begun to belong to the friends of the royal household. Thus does a man pass through life without danger if there be some one to excuse before the Lord the negligence of the sinner. But there is no one who has not need, even in the most perfect security, of the aid (suffrage) of one more powerful than himself. For, although a tried faith may sanctify some few so as to be in that number, yet is there need of some one to recommend that faith itself to the Lord, by suppliant intercession. For neither will you find one so strong as not to need the help of a stronger."

Hom. xv. p. 147, T. x. Galland.
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St. Nilus the Elder, (c. A.D. 385 - c. 430) (also known as Nilus of Sinai, Neilos, Nilus of Ancyra), Syrian, was one of the many disciples and fervent students of St. John Chrysostom; an eyewitness of the martyrdom of Theodotus.

"Know that the holy angels move us to prayer, and stand by us, both rejoicing and praying for us. If then we shall be negligent, and admit contrary thoughts, we irritate them exceedingly, for they strive so much for us, but we are not even willing to implore God for ourselves; but despising their ministry and their God, and abandoning the Lord, we are found with unclean demons."

Tract. De Orat. c. lxxxi. p. 496
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St. Isidore of Pelusium, (unknown - A.D. 440), a disciple of St. John Chrysostom, he was born in Egypt to a prominent Alexandrian family. He became an ascetic, and moved to a mountain near the city of Pelusium, in the tradition of the Desert Fathers; known to us for his letters, written to Cyril of Alexandria, Theodosius II, and a host of others. His letters display great judgment, precision, and learning.

"It is a good thing to honor the martyrs with votive offerings, as thou hast done, but it is a better to show thy reverence for them by doing the same good deeds as they did."

L. i. Ep. clxxxix. p. 56.
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Theodoret of Cyrus or Cyrrhus, (A.D. 393-458), Greek; an influential author, theologian, and Christian bishop of Cyrrhus, Syria (A.D. 423-457). He played a pivotal role in many early Byzantine church controversies that led to various ecumenical acts and schisms. His friendship for Nestorius embroiled him, for a time, with his great contemporary, St. Cyril of Alexandria.

In the first paragraph of his history of holy men, he says:

"I must invoke their prayers, and so begin my narrative."

T. iii. Relig. Hist. c. i. p. 1108.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 393

St. Avitus, (Alcimus Ecdicius), (A.D. c.470-525), a Latin poet and Anti-Arian archbishop of Vienne in Gaul, born of a prominent Gallo-Roman senatorial family

"Let, therefore, our Michael (the archangel) be present to us, summoned hither by the sincerity of our desire, by the beauty of the place, by the devotion of the people, and by bestowing great gifts, by obtaining the greatest, let him draw down hither with him the visible presence of that Divinity which ever glorifies him."

Fragm. vi. In Dedic. Eccl. Arch. Mich. p. 757, t. x. Galland.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 407



Catholics are persuaded that the angels and saints in Heaven, replenished with charity, pray for us, their fellow members of the Church. They rejoice in seeing God and in seeing Him they know in Him all things suitable to their happy state and that God may be inclined to hear their requests made in our behalf and, for their sake, grant us many favors. For this reason, we believe that it is good and profitable to invoke their intercession.

    • Can the manner of invocation be more injurious to Christ our Mediator, than it is for one Christian to ask for the prayers of another here on earth?

That said, Catholics are not taught so to rely on the prayers of others as to neglect their own duty to God, in:

    • imploring His divine assistance and goodness
    • mortifying the deeds of the flesh
    • despising the world
    • loving and serving God and their neighbor, and
    • following the footsteps of Christ our Lord, who is the way, the truth, and the life: to whom be honor and glory for ever and ever.



The Church's Scriptures that support the Intercession of the Angels and Saints:


Moses intercedes for the Israelites before the Lord.

11 And the LORD said to Moses, "How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs which I have wrought among them? 12 I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.". . . 13 But Moses said to the LORD, "Then the Egyptians will hear of it, for thou didst bring up this people in thy might from among them, 14 and they will tell the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that thou, O LORD, art in the midst of this people; for thou, O LORD, art seen face to face, and thy cloud stands over them and thou goest before them, in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. 15 Now if thou dost kill this people as one man, then the nations who have heard thy fame will say, 16 `Because the LORD was not able to bring this people into the land which he swore to give to them, therefore he has slain them in the wilderness.' 17 And now, I pray thee, let the power of the LORD be great as thou hast promised, saying, 18 `The LORD is slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of fathers upon children, upon the third and upon the fourth generation.' 19 Pardon the iniquity of this people, I pray thee, according to the greatness of thy steadfast love, and according as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now." 20 Then the LORD said, "I have pardoned, according to your word."

Numbers 14:11-20

Angel presents Tobit and Sarah's prayer to God

12 And so, when you and your daughter-in-law Sarah prayed, I brought a reminder of your prayer before the Holy One; and when you buried the dead, I was likewise present with you.

Tobias 12:12

Judas Maccabeus demonstrates that it is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the faithfully departed.

[Note: If you don't think that Maccabees should be part of the Scriptures, you still can't deny the historicity of the document, unless you want to deny history.]

40 Then under the tunic of every one of the dead they found sacred tokens of the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear. And it became clear to all that this was why these men had fallen. 41 So they all blessed the ways of the Lord, the righteous Judge, who reveals the things that are hidden; 42 and they turned to prayer, beseeching that the sin which had been committed might be wholly blotted out. And the noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened because of the sin of those who had fallen. 43 He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection. 44 For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. 45 But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.

2 Maccabees 12:40-45

Angels hold care over every child born into this earthly world

10 See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in Heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in Heaven.

Matthew 18:10

The rich man asks that Lazaruz intercede for his five brothers.

19 "There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, full of sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he called out, `Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.' 25 But Abraham said, `Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.' 27 And he said, `Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house, 28 for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.' 29 But Abraham said, `They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.' 30 And he said, `No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' 31 He said to him, `If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.'


Luke 16:19-31

Join me by your prayers to God on my behalf

30 I appeal to you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, 31 that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 32 so that by God's will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company.


Romans 15:30-32

Never get tired of staying awake to pray for all God's holy people, and pray for me to be given an opportunity to open my mouth and fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel

18 Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that utterance may be given me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel.

Ephesians 6:18-19

Paul states that he has not ceased praying for his fellow Christians.

9 And so, from the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 to lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.


Colossians 1:9-10

We always pray for you

11 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his call, and may fulfil every good resolve and work of faith by his power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.


2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

Brothers, pray for us, for not all have faith.

1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed on and triumph, as it did among you, 2 and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men; for not all have faith.


2 Thessalonians 3:1-2

Angels serve and helps us in this earthly life to obtain salvation

13 But to what angel has he ever said, "Sit at my right hand, till I make thy enemies a stool for thy feet"? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?

Hebrews 1:13-14

Angel offers prayers of the holy ones to God

8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

Revelation 5:8

Prayers of the saints raise up with the incense to God.

3 And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne; 4 and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God.


Revelation 8:3-4

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