I was challenged by a Protestant group about why Roman Catholics pray to saints and Mary and not directly to Jesus and God. Do we Catholic deviate from what the Bible is telling us? I was a bit bothered by that question. Please help me understand why we practice such way.
Fr. Francis' answer:
First of all, Catholics actually do spend a lot of time praying directly to God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We do not have to look too far, just a casual peruse of the text of the Mass is evidence enough that the whole celebration is centered on worshiping God the Father, through the Son and in the Holy Spirit.
As to why Catholics “pray to” the saints, more precisely, we petition to the saints to pray for us before God, or to pray with us to obtain favors from God. This is actually not strange at all if we see the saints as our friends.
Both Protestants and Catholics alike would readily agree that it is a Christian practice that we pray for each other and with each other. This is what the disciples did in Jesus’ time, and what the early Christians did in the time of the Acts of the Apostles. Both Protestants and Catholics practise intercession today. We would gather with brothers and sisters to pray for the needs of the community. We would also ask others to pray for particular special needs.
“Interceding through the saints is the same, except even more powerful. As Catholics, we believe the saints are alive and active before God. And they are also our friends and heroes. We want them to pray with us and pray for our needs, just like we want our brothers and sisters on earth to do the same.”