Have you ever asked a group of friends, or a special friend in particular to pray for you, or someone you know? Maybe you’re having a surgery, or starting a new job… sure, we all ask our friends and family to pray for us. Why is it so hard to understand why Catholics ask for the intercession of saints?
I think it’s important to clarify that most people don’t understand why we have devotions to saints, and therefore their misunderstanding is the reason why they may seem to think it’s wrong… so don’t get defensive or take it personally when someone asks why you pray to the saints.
Lets start by looking at some well known saints:
We often ask for the intercession of Saint Jude because he showed an outstanding amount of faith and can help people accomplish things that may seem impossible. He has helped many people heal from illness (hence the St. Jude Hospital). You can visit The Shrine of St. Jude Website to read about testimonials to St. Jude’s miracles. And I want to clarify that Catholics believe that Saints intercede for us with Jesus, just as a friend or family member would when they offer their prayers for you. Some people have stronger devotions to a certain saint because they feel connected to their life, their message, and their love for Jesus.
Saint Therese of Lisieux:
St. Therese is know as “the Little One” or “Little Flower”. Her diary documents her short time as a Carmelite nun. She became a nun at the rare age of 15 (after a lot of petitioning to join the Carmelites). She suffered through illness that took her life as a young adult. Many people ask St. Therese to help them gain peace and faith as they suffer through trials on earth. They also pray to her for strength in their faith. Often people experience her love by “receiving” a flower from her. Pope Francis says that he receives roses after he prays to St. Therese. She is a strong advocate for us in heaven and can become a great friend to anyone that prays to her. If you want to know more about her “Little Way” of loving people you can find books about her life and prayers online.
I have a personal connection to St. Gerard. He was introduced to me by a friend when my husband and I were trying to conceive our first child. She gave me a medal with him on it and said she’d pray a novena to ask him for help conceiving a baby. I didn’t understand at the time what that meant, but I said “Thank you” and wore the medal believing it could help. On the second day of the Novena our son Joaquin was conceived. St. Gerard is the patron saint of expectant mothers. Praying to him gave me peace and trust in God, which I’m sure also helped me to relax and allow my body to be ready to accept a baby.
Praying to the Saints is like accepting the gift of Friendship from God. He gives us these people in our life, and draws us near them, so that we can take steps by following their example, to correct our lives and love the way Jesus wants us to. If you want to know about the friendship of saints – check out this article Any Friend of God is a Friend of Mine.
Here are some other popular saints that you may feel a need to connect with in order to feel closer to God. Of course praying directly to Jesus is always a great way to ask for help, but Jesus gave us these people to help us, so we can use their help too!
St. Fransis of Assisi
St. Pope John Paul II
St. Joan of Arc
St. Padre Pio
St. Thomas Moore
(Click here to learn more about these saints).
Possibly the Saint we pray to the most is The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. I will write a separate blog post about her because she is so very special to a lot of us!