Stoning of St. Stephen (http://www.saintstephenssherman.org/)
This is an extract of a private message I sent to a fellow Youtube user, an "ex"-Catholic, that claimed that prayers to the saints (e.g. St. Anthony, St. Jerome, St. Joseph, St. Anne, etc.), apart from being idolatry (that topic I covered a couple of blog entries ago), was necromancy, the "conjuration of the spirits of the dead for purposes of magically revealing the future or influencing the course of events" (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/necromancy) and thus in breach of the Commandments. This Youtube user referred me to a part of the Old Testament where this takes place and why it is forbidden. I went on to explain why praying to (i.e praying through the saints) is acceptable.
In the Old Testament; NECROMANCY is forbidden, i.e. conjuring the dead to commune or attempt dialogue with the deceased. The Lord, in 1 Samuel 28:3-25, abandons King Saul (in disguise) because he has consulted the witch of Endor to commune with the prophet Samuel. God was angry at at King Saul because he failed to wait upon the Lord as God told him to. Now, when Catholics pray to the saints, we're not actually attempting dialogue with them or expecting them to speak back; we're simply asking them to pray for us because they are close to God; they intercede for us; all supplications are put to God.
In light of that: in Mark 15:34-36, as Jesus is hanging on the crucifix, he cries out to God, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" which is translated to, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" but the bystanders mishear what Jesus uttered and believed he was crying out to Elijah:
"One of them ran, soaked a sponge with wine, put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink, saying, 'Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to take him down.'" (v36)
Don't you think it's strange, based on what they [mistakenly] heard, that instead of condemning Jesus for attempting to "commune with the dead" by calling out to Elijah, they waited to see if Elijah would actually come and take him down from the cross? Yes, Jesus calls out to his Father, but the bystanders don't hear it that way. Why didn't the bystanders rebuke Jesus for the sin of necromancy if he was calling out to a "dead guy"?
The Youtube user then attempted to make his case with 1 Timothy 2:5, which says this:
"For there is one God, and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus..."
This is all well and good, but Jesus is the "one mediator of God and men" for our Salvation (redemption), and let's not forget what is said in 1 Timothy 2:1-4 right before this brief discourse on Christ as our mediator for Salvation:
"I desire therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men: For kings, and for all that are in high station: that we may lead a quiet and a peaceable life in all piety and chastity. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth."
Paul, in his letter to Timothy, is actually instructing us to pray for one another so that we may be led to God who wants all men to be saved and "come to knowledge of the truth".
Now, you could argue that Paul is exhorting the living to pray for each other, but as the saints in Heaven are no longer bound by the weight of sin as men are on earth (Romans 3:23, 1 John 1:8), and if the heavenly are aware of the affairs of men (sic.) on earth (Luke 15:10), wouldn't it actually be better for us to ask the saints to intercede for us rather than asking the earthly, those that are in as much need of Salvation as we are?
Ultimately, all prayers are directed to and are answered by God, but this does not mean we cannot have others praying (interceding) for us. If I were to ask you right now to pray for me, would you then be interfering or standing in between myself and God? Don't you then become a mediator? No, certainly not, because I wouldn't come to you to be "saved" (to seek Salvation), but I could come to you to ask you to pray for me as James 5:16 instructs:
"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."
Asking the righteous to pray for us is actually supported in the Old Testament as well:
"The LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked,
but the prayer of the upright pleases him." - Proverbs 15:8
"The LORD is far from the wicked
but he hears the prayer of the righteous." - Provers 15:29
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For more information about saints and why they are important to Catholics, then I recommend visiting the following websites to learn more: