1 October 2010

The Invocation of Saints

(Gospel e-Letter - October 2010)

Is praying to the saints equivalent to asking other Christians to pray for us, as is often claimed by Catholic apologists? We can take a look at some prayers to check if this is so. I have selected a sample of prayers from a single source, the popular devotion by St. Alphonsus Liguori, The Glories of Mary, to facilitate easy reference [link]. As you read these prayers, please ask yourself, Do I speak like this when I ask a fellow Christian to pray for my needs? Is this the right attitude and language when addressing someone other than God?
  • Oh Mary, I have the certain hope of being saved through thee (page 290).
  • To thee, then, oh Mary, I present myself today, miserable as I am, and to thee I give myself entirely (page 474).
  • Accept me, oh Mary, for thy own, and attend to my salvation, as I am thine own (page 38).
  • Oh Mary, if I put my confidence in thee I shall be saved; if I am under thy protection I have nothing to fear, for to by thy servant is to have the secure armor of salvation (page 328).
  • (Prostrated himself): Oh my queen, be my advocated with thy Son, who I dare not approach (page 153).
  • Oh mother of mercy, extend thy hand to raise a poor fallen creature who implores thy mercy. Oh Mary, defend thou me, or tell me to who I shall have recourse, and who can protect me better than thou? (page 224).
  • To thy hands I consign my soul, it was lost, but thou must save it. I always thank the Lord that he give me this great confidence in thee, which, notwithstanding my unworthiness, I believe will secure my salvation (page 239).
  • Thou are (my soul’s) ladder and way to paradise. Wilt thou obtain for me the grace of pardon and eternal rest? (page 317).
  • Save me, my hope, save me from hell; but first from sin, which alone can condemn me to hell (page 768).
  • Thou, next to Jesus must be my comfort in that dreadful moment (of death). Entreat thy Son that in his goodness He will grant the favour to die clasping thy feet (page 22).
  • Do not leave me until thou seest me actually safe in heaven, blessing thee, and singing thy mercies through all eternity (page 333).
Friend, what do you think? Is it right to address another creature, however exalted, in this way? Have you ever said to a fellow Christian, ‘I have the certain hope of being saved through you’? I’m sure he will be taken aback! Or have you ever asked a Christian brother, ‘Save me, my hope, save me from hell’? Of course you haven’t; is it only appropriate to address such prayers to the Lord alone. I trust that you can see the emptiness of the excuse for the invocation of the saints.

Taking the Bible as our guide, we are taught to prostrate ourselves before God alone (Acts 10:25), call on Christ as our hope (1 Tim 1:1), place our confidence in him (Heb 10:19), implore his mercy (Psalm 51:1), and hide under his protection (Psalm 17:8), for he is the way to heaven (John 14:6), he is our comfort (Isaiah 49:13), and when death approaches, Christians calls upon the name of their Saviour (Acts 7:59), and in heaven, the redeemed sing of God’s mercies for all eternity (Eph 1:6).