Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Invocation of Saints

Q. What is the doctrine and practice of the Catholic Church with regard to the invocation of Angels and Saints?
A. We hold it to be pious and profitable to apply ourselves to them in the way of desiring them to pray to God for us; but not so as to address ourselves to them as if they were the authors or disposers of pardon, grace or salvation; or as if they had any power to help us independently of God's good will and pleasure.
Q. But in some of the addresses made to the Saints or Angels, I find petitions of mercy, aid of defence; what do you say to that?
A. The meaning of those addresses, so far as they are authorized by the Church, is no other than to beg mercy of the Saints in this sense -- that they would pity and compassionate our misery, and would pray for us. In like manner, when we beg their aid and defence, we mean to beg the aid and defence of their prayers, and that the Angels, to whom God has given charge over us, would assist us and defend us against the angels of darkness. This is no more than what the Protestant Church asks in the collect for Michaelmass day, praying that, “as the Holy Angels always serve God in Heaven, so, by His appointments, they may succor and defend us upon earth."

Q. Have you any reason to believe that it is pious and profitable to beg the prayers of the Saints and Angels?
A. We have the same reason to desire the Saints and Angels to pray for us, and to believe it profitable to do so, as we have to desire the prayers of God’s servers here upon earth; or as St. Paul had to desire so often the prayers of the faithful, to whom he wrote his epistles. For if it is pious and profitable to desire the prayers of sinners here upon earth, how can it be otherwise than pious and profitable to desire the prayers of the Saints and Angels in Heaven? Have the Saints and Angels in Heaven less charity for us than the faithful upon earth? This cannot be since "Charity never faileth" (1 Cor. 13:8); and, instead of being diminished, is increased in Heaven.

Q. But is it not an injury to the mediatorship of Christ to desire the intercession of the Angels and Saints?
A. No more than we desire the intercession of God’s servers here (on earth); because we desire no more of the Saints than we do of our brethren upon earth; that is, we only desire of them to pray for us, and with us, to Him Who is both our Lord and their Lord, by the merits of His Son, Jesus Christ, Who is both our Mediator and their Mediator.

Q. Have you anything else to add in favor of the Catholic doctrine and practice of the invocation of Saints?
A. Yes:
1) That it is agreeable to the Communion of Saints, which we process in the Creed and of which the Apostles speaks (Heb. 12:12-24). “You are come to Mount Sion, and to the city of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to the company of many thousands of Angels, and to the Church of the first-born, who are written in Heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the Just, made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the New Testament.”

2) That it is agreeable to the doctrine and practice of the ancient fathers, Saints and Doctors of the Church; and this by the confession even of our adversaries. “I confess,” says Mr. Fulk in his Rejoinder to Bristow, p. 5, “that Ambrose, Augustine and Hierome held invocation of the Saints to be lawful;…”

3) This stands upon the same foundation as all other Christian truths, viz., upon the authority of the Church of Christ, which the Scripture commands us to hear, with which both Christ and His Holy Spirit will remain forever, and against the gates of hell cannot prevail.

Q. What do you think of making addresses to the Angels or Saints upon our knees? Is not this giving them divine worship?

A. No more than when we desire the blessing of our fathers or mothers upon our knees; which is, indeed, the very case, since what we ask of our parents when we desire their blessings is that they would pray to God for us; and this same we ask of the Angels and Saints.
~The Glories of the Catholic Church, Vol. I

1 comment:

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