I ask: Why do we pray to the saints? Is this prayer effective? Are our requests met by them? If the saints were men or women like us, what “powers” would they have to answer our plea? If we can ask God directly, why “spend time” asking someone other than Him?
Again, the help of this reflection is St. Thomas Aquinas, through the Summa Theologica written by him, to bring to light questions about the nature of God, the nature of Jesus and also some moral issues.
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Reflection of St. Thomas Aquinas
For these questions, St. Thomas is very clear in pointing out the answer: “In two ways, we pray to somebody: that he may pray for it or that he obtain from others what we want.” That is, in the first case, the only one who can accept, grant what you ask for is God. Therefore, it is important for you to pray to the Lord, for it is He and He alone who will grant your request. It is He who has all the powers (for being God, omnipotent) to grant you what you ask for.
St. Thomas goes further by saying that we can ask someone to intercede with Him who can grant us. Making a simple comparison, many times when we were kids and wanted to get something that only the father could give us, we would go to our mothers. As much as they could not give what we were asking, we knew they would intercede for us with our parents. Or, within a hierarchical company, you should first talk to your immediate boss to request something. As much as he can not grant you, he’s the one who can talk to the board to get what you want. You humbly present your request to your boss, who leads you on and asks the board on your behalf.
Supplication to the Saints
These small comparisons can illustrate the reality of prayer to the saints. As we present our supplications to the saints, we are not asking them to “solve” what we want, but asking them to intercede with God for us.
As much as the saints were men or women like us, they have the merit of being part of the heavenly abode and seeing God face to face. The Church believes and propagates through the lives of the saints that they are with God and have free access to Him. By the merits of a holy life lived here on earth, they have reached Heaven. If the Church canonizes a saint, it is because it testifies that this person is in Heaven. As we know, Heaven is the abode of God.
Devotion to the Saints
The saints, therefore, besides showing with their life and their witness that it is possible to live a life full of God, they still help us by interceding for us with the Father.
I have two saints of devotion: Don Bosco and St. Therese of the Infant Jesus, as well as Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. As I look into their lives, I look at myself and encourage myself to live a life of holiness. But I still know that if in any situation I ask for their intercession, they will be able to help me from heaven, beside God, where they also reside.
What is your holy devotion? To which “friends of Heaven” have you asked for help? Let us not forget them, for with their aid we will also reach heaven.