SAINTS: Our Unseen Prayer Partners
by Mark Shea
OCTOBER 26, 2006 (www.holyspiritinteractive.net) -- Some of my non-Catholic friends find prayer to the saints ooky. They ask me, "Since when is talking to a bunch of dead guys Christian?"
Since biblical times. Consider Moses. He had been a dead guy for several centuries when Christ began his ministry, yet he was intensely interested in earthly doings judging by his behavior on the Mount of Transfiguration (Luke 9:30-31). Likewise the various deceased saints in Revelations seem intensely interested in our affairs. So too those mysterious dead folk who visited Jerusalem on Good Friday (Matthew 27:52-53). All this seems to indicate our connection with the dead is unbroken by death.
Notice also Christ's reply to the Sadducees, who disbelieved in life after death. Our Lord says the blessed dead are not dead at all, but alive to God. "He is not the God of the dead, but of the living" (Matthew 22:32). The key to this matter, Jesus indicates, lies not so much with the dead as with their God, the "God of the living." Who is He?
God is, in his Trinitarian nature, a kind of Holy Family. He is one God, not three Gods. But the oneness of God is the oneness of love, not the oneness of loneliness. In his very being God is a communion of love between the Father and the Son, a communion so intense that the Spirit of Love between them is Himself a Person: the Holy Spirit. So the Godhead can be pictured as a sort of symphony of love, each Divine Person of the Trinity distinct from the others, yet all united in the One Music of God. That is the divine nature.
Now a very important Catholic book tells us that the central purpose of the gospel was to make us participants in that nature. According to this book, as Christ is, so shall we be. Whatever Christ does, we shall be able to do. As he is prophet, priest and king, so shall we be. As he is perfect, so shall we be (in a subordinate, human way). As he is powerful by the Holy Spirit, so shall we be. As he is love, so shall we be. As he is mediator between God and man, so shall we be.
So what weird Catholic book is this?
It's called the Bible and it spells out in no uncertain terms the glory for which each saved soul is destined in Christ. "For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers." (Romans 8:29) Likewise Hebrews 12 speaks of the heavenly Jerusalem and of those "spirits of righteous men made perfect" who dwell there and are, as St. John says, "like Him." And 2 Peter 1:4 says God "has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature."
Thus, in Christ, we participate in the very life of God, and that those who do it best of all are the ones who have obtained perfection in heaven at the right hand of God. Does this mean we will dissolve into God or stop being human and become God? On the contrary, it means that we shall become, in union with Christ, more perfectly ourselves and distinct from God than ever. But our distinctness will, like the distinctness between the Father, Son and Spirit, give rise to more love and more union with God. Thus, we shall join his symphony and do whatever Christ himself does, including intercede for those on earth.