instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I spoke too soon

The other day I said Catholics pray to saints.

What I should have said was:

Christians pray to saints.

And if you run into a Christian who says otherwise, ask him, "Where have you been bub?"
From the Council of Trent, Session 25, emphasis and formatting added:

The holy council commands all bishops and others who hold the office of teaching and have charge of the cura animarum, that in accordance with the usage of the Catholic and Apostolic Church, received from the primitive times of the Christian religion, and with the unanimous teaching of the holy Fathers and the decrees of sacred councils, they above all instruct the faithful diligently in matters relating to intercession and invocation of the saints, the veneration of relics, and the legitimate use of images, teaching them that
  • the saints who reign together with Christ offer up their prayers to God for men,
  • that it is good and beneficial suppliantly to invoke them and to have recourse to their prayers, assistance and support in order to obtain favors from God through His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who alone is our redeemer and savior;* and
  • that they think impiously
    • who deny that the saints who enjoy eternal happiness in heaven are to be invoked, or
    • who assert that they do not pray for men, or
    • [who assert] that our invocation of them to pray for each of us individually is idolatry, or
    • [who assert] that it is opposed to the word of God and inconsistent with the honor of the one mediator of God and men, Jesus Christ,** or
    • [who assert] that it is foolish to pray vocally or mentally to those who reign in heaven.

* "And though the Church has been accustomed to celebrate at times certain masses in honor and memory of the saints, she does not teach that sacrifice is offered to them but to God alone who crowned them;*** whence, the priest does not say: "To thee, Peter or Paul, I offer sacrifice,"**** but, giving thanks to God for their victories, he implores their favor that they may vouchsafe to intercede for us in heaven whose memory we celebrate on earth." -- Council of Trent, Session 22, ch 3.

** See 1 Tim 2:5, "There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus...."

*** "If anyone says that it is a deception to celebrate masses in honor of the saints and in order to obtain their intercession with God, as the Church intends, let him be anathema." -- Canons On The Sacrifice Of The Mass, n 5, Session 22, Council of Trent

**** "But who ever heard a priest of the faithful, standing at an altar built for the honor and worship of God over the holy body of some martyr, say in the prayers, "I offer to you a sacrifice, O Peter, or O Paul, or O Cyprian?" For it is to God that sacrifices are offered at their tombs -— the God who made them both men and martyrs, and associated them with holy angels in celestial honor; and the reason why we pay such honors to their memory is, that by so doing we may both give thanks to the true God for their victories, and, by recalling them afresh to remembrance, may stir ourselves up to imitate them by seeking to obtain like crowns and palms, calling to our help that same God on whom they called. Therefore, whatever honors the religious may pay in the places of the martyrs, they are but honors rendered to their memory, not sacred rites or sacrifices offered to dead men as to gods." -- St. Augustine, City of God, VIII, 27