To understand intercessory prayer in Scripture, you must realize that we do not pray to Mary, the saints, or for one another to replace Christ as he is "the one sole mediator between God and man" (1Tim. 2:5). But we can pray for each other preciselybecause we are in Christ. In him, "we can do all things in him who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13), including intercessory prayer.
What's at stake here is not just a misunderstanding of Catholic intercessory prayer but our eternal destiny itself. Also it limits the power of God and empties the cross of its power. If the sole reason we can intercede for one another is because we are in Christ; then if the people in heaven can't pray or intercede for us, it could only be because they are seperated from Christ.
This would mean that we would automatically have to be seperated from Christ when we or our loved ones died. Consequently, either nobody could be in heaven or heaven exist without Christ. Both possibilities are horrific. This is why St. Paul proclaims the Gospel in his letter to the Romans:
What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" -Rom 8:35, 39
Death doesn't seperate us from Christ and so we can still "do all things in Him who strengthens us," particularly intercessory prayer. Those who have died with Jesus, rise with Him as well, thus continue to be incorporated into Him (2Tim. 2:11-14). Thus, they share in his mission to love both here "on earth as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6:10).
Also, if we as Christians condemn help from the saints/"the cloud of witnesses" (Heb. 12:1), we limit the love of God and the power of the cross. If death seperates us from our brothers and sisters in heaven it means that death is more powerful than the love of God. St. Paul says the exact opposite in Romans as stated above. So to deny a link to God's love beyond death is to deny the power of the God's love and "empty the cross of its power" (1Cor. 1:17-18).
This is what intercessory prayer and devotion to Mary is really about. It's not about idolatry, or putting Mary and the saints above Jesus, but about proclaiming the power of God and not emptying the cross of its power; it is about the saints living in Jesus and living out the mandate of Jesus, "to proclaim the good news to all the world" (MK. 16:16).
For a more detailed explanation from Scripture see below:
To understand Marian devotion, you have to understand intercessory prayer and the communion of saints. Peter Kreeft gives 4 Criteria to explain this:
1. The Church is Christ's body-Jesus Himself makes it extremely clear to Saul on the road to Damascus that he is hurting Him when he hurts His Church.
· Jesus says to Saul,"Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"-Acts 9:4
· "Then he will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.' And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life'"-Mt 25:45-46.
· "He is head of the body, the church"-Col. 1:18
2. Christ has only one body, not one on earth and one in heaven. There are not two Christ!
• “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all
one in Christ Jesus”-Gal. 3:27-28
• “For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another" -Rom 12:5-6.
3. Christians are not seperated from each other by death
* "What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" -Rom 8:35, 39
· "And when this which is corruptible clothes itself with incorruptibility and this which is mortal clothes itself with immortality, then the word that is written shall come about: 'Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?' But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Chnst"-lCor. 15: 54-55, 57.
4. Christians must love and serve each other.
• "If thou keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you" - Jn. 15: 10-12, also verse 17
• "This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. "-Jn. 13:35
· “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. In this is love brought to perfection. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love. If anyone says, "I love God," but hates his brother, he is a liar."-l Jn 4:16-18, 20.
Notice that love brings perfection and in heaven we are perfected. Notice also that those who love God must also love his brother. If he doesn't he's a liar and there can be no liars in heaven for "nothing unclean shall enter into it [heaven], nor anyone who does abominable things or tells lies" Rev. 21:27
So those in heaven do not break the law of charity, they fulfill it and so intercede for us here on earth
Main Objection:For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human"-1Tim. 2:5.
*God gives us a share in his offices because he wants us to act in his name like true children and also it is a visible sign of the inseperability of Jesus' human and divine nature.
1. Christ is God, the creator of all things (see Col. 1:16; Jn. 1:1-3). Yet, God allows man to share in that office by procreation between man and woman. He not only allows man to share in this office, but it was His first command to them. We see this in Gen. 1:28, "And God blessed them, and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiple, and fill the earth and subdue it.'" God's first act after creating man was to give man a share in His Divine offices.
2. Christ is also the supreme Judge (see Jn. 9:39; 2Tim. 4:1). He however, allows the men that are united with Him to share in his judgment. Christ tells us this, "Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of man shall sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel"-Matt. 19:28 (Other verses that show Jesus sharing his office of Judge with mankind are Lk. 22:30; 1Cor. 6:2-3; Rev. 20:4).
3. God is also the only one who can forgive sins (see Mark 2:7). Yet, Christ gave His apostles the authority to forgive sins. He states this unmistakably, "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained"-John 20:23
Conclusion: As members of the Church, the body of Christ, when we or the saints pray for one another, it is still Christ acting as mediator because we are in Christ! Therefore, the saints in heaven are not mediators instead of Christ or to replace Christ, but are mediators precisely in and because of Christ!
So let us share this great news with the Word of God and our powerful intercessors-Mary and the Saints! **********************************
For more information on Marian devotion and an explanation of it in Scripture, history and through reason, check out:
Why Do Catholics Worship Mary?
A book written for non-Catholics and Catholics looking at Catholic beliefs from reason, history, and Scripture. This is a short apologetic powerhouse in understanding Marian devotion and why Catholics DON"T worship Mary.
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