Catholics Do Not Worship Saints or The Virgin Mary.
Public Service Announcement to all Catholics:
Im not gonna get all scripturey or pull verses or even use proper terminology because this is a very simple concept that I do not think needs extensive explanation.
People have been flaming Catholics for the role that Saints play in the Catholic church for decades. People say that Catholics worship Saints and idolize Mary. Catholics know that this is NOT true.
Catholics pray to God, Catholics use saints to deliver our prayers to God as well as the Catholic giving the prayer to God directly.
The best metaphor that I have found that defends this practice easily and makes it understandable by all non Catholic people is that of a court room.
God is the Judge, the saints are our Lawyers. We do not speak to the judge directly (we can but dont always) it is customary in Catholicism and in the court room to speak to our Lawyer and the Lawyer relays the message to the judge.
This is the role saints play in the church.
We have our prayer, we give it to the saints and the saints give it to God. There is power in numbers and the more people we have praying for us the better. It just so happens that Catholics like to use Saints to pray for us and not just the congregation.
Catholics know this!
It has been brought to my attention though that some Catholics, despite having to defend the religion to others have been running around saying that "Yes, Catholics do pray to Saints."...but they mean what I have just said above.
I think this is a very poor choice of words considering how delicate it is.
People pray to the ones they worship. Prayer is a form of worship...by actually saying "Yes, Catholics pray to the Saints"...it is inviting a major misunderstanding and very well may be why so many non Catholics don't understand the role of the saints.
That is a misleading phrase to use.
To me when I hear "Yes Catholics pray to Mary" that means, "Yes, Catholics worship Mary.". This is not true, this is misleading...
It is most precise and most easily understood to say, "Yes Catholics pray through Mary/Saints." But the word "to" just invites people to think that is where the prayer ends and it doesn't.
So please, when explaining to others about Catholicism and the role Saints play in the Church. Please do not say, "we pray to saints."...
A prayer to Mary may be along the lines of: "Thank you heavenly mary for granting me my blessings, please continue to bless my family and heal my grandmother with your divine grace...amen....."
A prayer through Mary may be along the lines of: "Hail Mary full of grace the lord is with thee, please pray that God continues blessing my family and heals my grandmother in her time of need."...
The difference is easily seen in those two prayers, and the word "to" and "Through" make all the difference.
I just see no need to not clarify this especially when Catholics are so out of breathe defending the use of Saints to so many.
I was certainly shocked when I found myself in an arguement about this. I was the one that was mislead. I was the one that thought a Catholic was trying to tell me that Catholics worship/pray to saints...because like many I think prayer and worship are torn from the very same cloth.
When it turns out they held the same opinion that I had, they believe the same thing that I believe, they know what I know...
So if two Catholics can confuse eachother with this word, imagine the damage it does to the Catholic image when it is said to others....
The image is bad enough as it is without inviting this misunderstanding.
Its unfortunate that we were not able to better communicate and if I was not clear enough in my explanation, I am sorry.