Saints, Spirits, and the Catholic Church: The Little-Known Truth of Who We Are in Christ

   

There is a family and heritage long forgotten by most. They stand about us and sustain us in prayer, but few ever recognize them. And those who do, glibly deny or reject their existence and relevance as mystical and some phantasmic figment of an over-active imagination.

The saints who have come before us, regardless of our recognition of them in evangelical circles, still play a vital role in our lives.

My awareness of the “saints” has been purely academic, having studied the lives of some in history. Of course, as one raised in evangelical churches, I was taught that the reverence or “worship” of these saints was pure myth and demonic—a horrible vice practiced by the “Satan-inspired Catholic Church.”

In recent years, however, my belief and view of the saints has taken a dramatic turn from what I was taught in my youth.

Two things have changed: I have become aware of the incredible power and unity which comes through the Holy Spirit and my now close associate with Catholics via my work place.

The Holy Spirit’s Binding

While in the past the Holy Spirit was been tamed and forgotten by many in the heritage and family of the Protestant movements, the mystical role of the Spirit in our lives has attracted new attention.

The Christian is made so, first by the covering of Christ Jesus’ blood, and then through adoption as a son of God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We have access to God the Father through this same Spirit. And this spirit is that (and who!) binds all believers together to form the Body of Christ—united as one in spirit with the Holy Spirit and with Christ.

Mystical? Indeed. And difficult to wrap one’s mind around. We are, quite literally, woven into the very fabric of the Trinity as we become one with Christ as his bride—just as a human husband and wife become one.

Now obviously this is not a physical transformation but a relational, emotional, psychological, and spiritual unity.

Reflect on this passage:

“When Christ came, He proclaimed the good news of peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone. The While building is being fitted together in Him and is growing into a holy sanctuary in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit.”
— Ephesians 2:17-22

We are bound together with the saints, prophets, and apostles who have come before us in union with Christ. We are one body, whether living or “dead.”

The Catholic Church’s Prayers

As a young man, I was taught that Catholics were idolatrous Saint worshipers who pray to people rather than to God. Nothing could be further from the truth (depending on how we define “prayer”). Prayer, in my mind, is our communication with the triune God.

But Just as I may ask a “living” brother or sister, as a co-heir in Christ and part of the Body, to intercede for me in prayer, so too do Catholics believe that the Saints who have come before pray for us.

These Saints, those believers who are united with us in the Spirit and are part of the very same body of Christ to which we belong, care to lift us up in prayer just as any other brother or sister in Christ might.

Unity in the Community of the Trinity

And while many may not conclusively believe that the saints who have come before still pray for us, one thing is abundantly true: we are one with all those who have come before.

Every single believer, saint, apostle, prophet, and martyr stands united along side us through the Holy Spirit who permeates all regardless of time or space. We stand united, not alone. We are part of an ancient community standing at the foot of an ancient throne upon which the light of light and generator of all sits, holy and awesome.

May we awaken to who we are in Christ and with whom we are united as the Body of our Blessed Lord and Savior.

_______________________________________________

THEOLOGY21 is a co-op of authors dedicated to renovating theology for a new generation, taking the ancient truths of scripture and theology and speaking to the post-Christian culture of the 21st century. To keep up-to-date on all things THEOLOGY21, Give our Facebook page a “like”, follow our twitter page, add yourself to our email list, or subscribe to our feed!
 
__________________________________________________

  • Being united with the saints who have gone before us does not mean that we need to use them as intercessors–nowhere does the Bible encourage this practice. We are encouraged to share the burdens of one another–so, it stands to reason that one might ask a living brother or sister in Christ to pray with or intercede on his or her behalf. We must be very careful that we do not add to the Word anything that is not present. Did Jesus do this? Did the apostles do this? Let them be our examples. Follow scriptural directions; check it by the Word of God and you will never be misled. The Word of God says in 1 Timothy 2:5, “…for there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,”. Just Jesus, no one else.

  • True enough. We don’t NEED saints, living or dead, to pray for us. That being said, we do ask people to do so—not because it is necessary for salvation or that Christ is not enough but that in desperate times we are instructed and encouraged to pray and have those who love us pray for us. 

    Indeed, it was not out of character for Christ to spend time with those already dead and gone—Elijah and Moses to name one instance. And When Christ prayed, he wanted those around him to pray for him and with him. Think of Christ in the garden of gethsemane. Did he, being Christ, NEED people to pray and intercede for him? No. Did it bring him comfort? Did it align his heart with God’s? sure. And if Christ “needs” prayer, don’t we even more? 

    And this business about truth being “only in the bible” is a huge mistake Protestants and Evangelicals make—something the original authors and Christ himself never intended. Here are a few passages for example: 

    “Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.” 1 Thess 5. 

    “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”  John 21:25

  • Phillip Martin

    I agree with the whole saints are a part of the church but I also wonder how the saints can hear millions of prayers at once…do they have the same ability that God has to hear all? My conclusion is no, and I would say it is assuming to much when one says they can hear multiple prayers.

  • Indeed. I would say that it isn’t really “prayers” as much as just talking to someone who is there, but not in the flesh…Parsing words, I know. But nevertheless, I think an important distinction. As far as hearing and understanding many at once, I am not sure. That doesn’t seem like all that much of a “divine” or super difficult ability. That that may just be me…

  • Hey John, what is the Catholic def. of saint? Are they all Christians?

  • My questions would be where did the practice of getting the saints to
    pray for us come from and is prayer an act of worship? If prayer is
    worship then we can not pray to the saints, however is what you’re
    talking about here more about asking the dead to pray for you? On that
    note another idea is that the bible forbids using mediums, those who
    communicate with the dead. Is this a subtle form of that obviously evil
    practice? I don’t think that Jesus talking with Moses and Elijah is a
    good argument against that idea because first of all Jesus is God and in
    the old testament scared a medium by sending Samuel to Saul, that
    didn’t make using mediums okay to start doing, also Moses and Elijah
    were there either spiritually or physically or both, who knows, but the
    saints who have passed on are not here in either of those ways.

    I’m not saying I know for sure that it’s right or wrong, but using an
    argument from silence doesn’t seem to be enough to condone (If that is
    what you are doing) the practice.

  • No argument from silence. Such an argument would say that because the bible does’t say something, that means that it is OK. Not what I am saying. What I am saying is that the Bible does not contain all spiritual truth. So if we try to say that because it is not in the Bible, it is not true if a falsehood. 

    The scripture teaches that it can not contradict the scripture, not that it must be mentioned. 

  • Great question! And I think you already know the answer. Only those Christians who have lived pure and holy lives through their effort. Obviously I disagree with this definition of “saints.” Like you, I believe that all true believers are saints as Paul seems to teach in his epistles. 

  • Oh okay I got ya and would agree with what you said about ideas contradicting scripture.

    Would you give the idea that speaking with the dead in that way is anything like mediums communicating the dead any serious thought?  Why or why not?

  • I might be a bit naive, but I guess my next question would be, based on Catholic belief, how would one know that the saint you are praying to lived a pure and holy life in such a way as to not merit purgatory? I guess at that point they wouldn’t be a saint, but how would we know differently?

Close
Please support the site
By clicking any of these buttons you help our site to get better
Social PopUP by SumoMe