Friday, May 2, 2008


So, just to give some perspective in this whole scenario, the time frame that all this happened was approximately March of 2005. That was after September of 2004. September of 2oo4 was the date that our home was severely damaged by the onset of Hurricane Ivan, which you see to the right. Our house is right under the tip of the green arrow. Being that we were on the right side of the storm, we took the brunt of the storm with a 20 ft. oak tree on the back of our house. Due to this, the entire back half of our house had to be remodeled, which included the Kitchen, dining area and the den area. So, not only did we have a 2 year old, we were living in half of our house with a microwave, heatplate and a minifridge in the laundry room. Now to pile on top of everything else, I was wrestling with a conversion to the Catholic Faith. So my eyes were glued to the news and the funeral for the Holy Father. I remember that one night I was flipping through the channels and I came across EWTN's coverage of the events and I was rivetted. ( for those of you who don't know, EWTN is the "Global Catholic Television Network") The only problem that I noticed quite quickly was that this was a "preview channel" that the cable company used to preview other channels that were available to subscribers. HOW COULD THEY TEASE ME LIKE THIS???? I didn't have the very station that I felt like I needed! Oh will go on. I remember going out and purchasing any type of magazine and book that I could find on Pope John Paul's life and history because I really felt a sense of regret. I had come to a point that I finally was recognizing the importance that he had played in the world stange, and now he was gone. Some part of me felt like this was a sick cosmic joke because I knew that there is no way that I could go back and pick up the pieces. It was, however very evident to me that through the death of the Holy Father, he probably had more impact on my life that he could have other wise, he got my attention. I realized that what was going on now was something that
had been going on for centuries. The torch would now be passed. But honestly, I didn't know what that meant. At this point in my search, I was not aware or informed of "Apostolic Succession", all I knew was that there would be a new Pope in the near future. The one thing that stuck with me, and probably always will was something that I saw during the funeral. I believe that it was during the procession to St. Peter's basilica that the body was being carried. During that time the people were singing the Litany of the Saints and I really had no idea what they were singing/chanting because it was all in Latin....and it haunted me for days. I finally found it on line and this is what I found:

It was chilling for me. I really felt like I had just dove into the ocean with no life raft or any boat in sight. But when I read through this litany, I knew one thing that made sense. There was an entire body of believers, just like the writer of Hebrews talks about that we are surrounded by. This body of believers is no longer bound by space or time and we are a part of them and they are a part of us. When we cry, they hurt. When we rejoice, they rejoice with us and they are there with the Father interceeding for us. At this point I was beginning to delve into something that I had heard in the Presbyterian Church (in limited form) as the "Communion of the Saints". Of course over the next few months this belief would be expounded on and challenged, but I knew that they were there, all of them....Praying for us.


Heath said...

I enjoy your reference of those in the liturgy connecting them to Hebrews. This is probably a reference to my ignorance, but on what basis do we state that they are interceding for us. I thought this was the job of Christ, is there reference to the saints gone before that intercede? Also, this is definitely and admittedly a question skewed by my Charismatic elitist upbringing. How do you answer the question that "praying" to these saints crosses into idolatry?

Allan Richards said...

O.K. Now you are getting into a DEEEEEEEP subject. As stated in the Apostles and the Nicene Creed...."we believe in communion of the Saints" What does that mean? I would direct you back firstly to I Corinthians 12. In v.13 you will read "For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body." What that represents is the fact that everybody that is baptized in Christ is a part of His Body...and that status doesn't change upon their death. They have reached their perfection through Christ, but because we are all part of the same body, when we hurt, they hurt, when we rejoice, they rejoice. They have a different role now. In regard to Scripture that would back this up, I would reference Rev 8:3-4:

Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a gold censer. He was given a great quantity of incense to offer, along with the prayers of all the holy ones, on the gold altar that was before the throne.
The smoke of the incense along with the prayers of the holy ones went up before God from the hand of the angel.

This is a very clear statement that they are praying for us.

In addition Matthew 18:10 states:

"See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.

Here the Angels are praying for the little ones.

In regard to the Intercession of Christ, I believe that you are probably referring to I Timothy 2:5which states: "For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." There is only one man who could "mediate" gap between God and man-the Lord Jesus Christ. No priest, no saint, not even Mary could could do that...only by the Sacrifice of the GodMan Jesus Christ. In no way do the prayers of the Saints interfere with this. Scripture tells us that "...The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful" and who would be more righteous before God that those in Heaven? And since as we stated before, that when we hurt, they hurt, they are able to continue to take our prayers before the Father.

In regard to idolatry, There is only one form of worship that we give to God, which is often called latria (Greek). There is no worship given to Saints. They are honored and they can pray for us, but not worshipped. As a matter of fact, when you go to your pastor, wife, friend, father, etc. and ask them to pray for you, they are interceeding for you; and we know that there is no harm in that. Idolatry by it's very nature is giving worship that is due God to another person or thing. What is so awesome about the saints is that they actually magnify the awe and wonder of God because they continually point us back to Him.

Heath said...

Again, my brain is wasted right now so no deep response here. I can dig all that you are saying, I have no problem with saints interceding for me, just as I have no problem asking someone else to pray for me (although it's difficult to ask at times b/c of my own pride) I guess when it comes to praying, and agin nothing deep, more practical than anything. But I would rather go directly to Christ as I have the privilege and honor of approaching him directly. Again, very shallow and a bit tongue in cheek, but I would rather leave the saints alone to worship God continuously as I so look forward to doing and "converse directly with the Almighty" (sorry, a little Braveheart influence there)

Also, what is the evidence that the "angels" referenced in the verses you quoted, are the saints that have gone before us.

And, this is definitely a question from ignorance, but does the Hail Mary extol the virtues of Mary to a place of higher importance than she is in a sense raising her to a level of deity. I know the first response to this is "of course not" but you know where I come from in asking this question as you come from the same background I do. I know that in some cultures, latin american specifically, Mary and others are deified.

Allan Richards said...

In regard to the Saints, and Christ, you are never required to ask the Saints to pray for any sense and it is/has been something that I as well have to ask the Holy Spirit to lead me into. You are always able to pray directly to Our Lord....but it is always good to have back up.

My bad....I apologize for not communicating this correctly. The angels and Saints are not one and the same. They are two separate entities. Angels are created by God to do his bidding. Saints are those of us who have reached our perfection in the Lord in Heaven.


This is something that I will devote an entire blog to for more detail. But for clarification, The Catholic Church doesn't ever, or will they ever condone or teach the worship of Mary. Worship is set aside only for our Lord. When we are praying the Hail Mary we pray this prayer: "Hail Mary Full of Grace/Blessed art thou among women/And Blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God/Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen". The first part of the prayer is taken right from Luke 1:28"And coming to her, he said, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you."

Secondly Luke 1:41-42 states "When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you among women..." Then in v.48"For he has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed."
So far, we can see that the Hail Mary is a very Scriptural prayer. Looking next we know that if Jesus is God and Mary gave birth to him, then she can rightly be called the Mother of God. So when we pray the Rosary or the Hail Mary, we are praying Scripture as it was given.

We also believe that Mary was the first Christian. As the mother of Our Lord she knew him on a deeper level than many others did. She took care of him from a child all the way through his teen years and saw his life through to the end. There is a special relationship there between Mary and Jesus. She was united to him his entire life and we can learn from her and her life how to love Christ more.

In regard to deifying Mary, this is not taught by the Catholic Church. What I can tell you is because of the culture in Latin America, they have a deep devotion to mothers in general. They do hold a special place for us and as Mary is the Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church, She holds a high place of honor.

I haven't even touched the surface on this one.....more later.

Heath said...

No problem with the basis of the Hail Mary. My reaction is to the perception given by probably the few. When people treat the recitation of the hail mary as a chant or a holy incantation to ward off evil. I'm sure much the same way charismatics take verses out of context, quoting them like they have some power in and of themselves. the only part of the Hail Mary that I'm uncomfortable with, and this may be an unfair issue, but I'm still hung up on asking someone else to pray for me. Probably not a major issue, just my own comfort level.

Allan Richards said...

Fair enough....It is like Msgr. Reed said to me during my conversion. Nobody is ever going to chase you around with a crucifix or rosary and try to convert you. However, it is very important to me that people have a very fair understanding of Catholic doctrines, not just preconceived is all about dialogue and understanding each other.

And you are correct in the fact that any prayer, Catholic or otherwise can be treated as some "magic potion" and there is no such thing. The whole purpose of the Rosary is a meditation tool. I don't know how much you are familiar with the Rosary, but each time you pray a Rosary, you are meditating on five different mysteries of the life of Christ. For example, today we would focus on the Agony of Christ in the Garden, the Scourging at the pillar, The Crowning with Thorns, Christ carrying His cross, and His Crucifixion and death. Just a way to quieten our minds and remember and focus on what He really did for us.