(Lightly edited on July 25, 2020, to bring some things up-to-date.) I was browsing the web, wondering what to write about tonight for the series. I was re-reading an article at Catholic Answers titled Mary, the Mother of God,* and a window popped up in the lower right-hand corner asking if I have devotion to Mary. Well, yes, I do, I replied. Then it said, Let’s celebrate, and offered me a free ebook about Mary. I ❤️ ebooks and the Blessed Virgin Mary so I said, YES. A few seconds later I was glancing through 20 Answers: Mary, by Tim Staples. Thank you, Blessed Mother and Catholic Answers!
I’ll just give you a couple of samples here. First, something most of us Catholics have heard at some point from non-Catholic family, friends, or even strangers: that the Bible expressly forbids praying to Mary and the Saints because it condemns all communication with the dead. Period.
“The only communication with spirit beings that originates with man allowed in Scripture is that of prayer to God and he alone.”James White, Answer to Catholic Claims — A Discussion of Biblical Authority, quoted in Tim Staples, 20 Answers: Mary.
But as Tim Staples points out, it isn’t all communication with the dead, it’s necromancy—the conjuring of the dead through wizards, mediums and the like—that is condemned in Scripture, not praying to saints. We don’t conjure up the saints (and we don’t try to manipulate them or dominate them with our power or try to gain their power, which is what necromancers try to do). Necromancy is a grave sin. But even Jesus spoke with the dead. Are we saying that Jesus sinned? By no means. So when Jesus manifested His Divinity at the Transfiguration and called Moses and Elijah to speak with Him, He clearly was not sinning and He was clearly speaking with the dead.
And that’s another thing: those of the faithful who are dead (gone from us, gone from this life) are not DEAD dead, they are very much alive in Christ. Here Staples quotes Hebrews 12 and how it contrasts the Old with the New Covenant.
“For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire . . . darkness . . . gloom . . . and the sound of a trumpet, and a voice whose words made the hearers entreat that no further messages be spoken to them . . .”
“But you have come to . . . the city of the living God . . . and to innumerable angels . . . and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven . . . and to . . . God . . . and to the spirits of just men made perfect . . . and to Jesus.”
In the Old Covenant, the faithful approached God alone and with trepidation. In the New Covenant: “But you have come to . . . and to . . . and to . . . and to.” In the same way we can initiate prayer and in so doing “come to” God and Jesus, we can also “come to” the angels and “the spirits of just men made perfect.” That would include Mary and the saints.Tim Staples. 20 Answers Mary (Kindle Locations 724-730). Catholic Answers Press. Kindle Edition.
Second, he also points out that Revelation 5:8-14 depicts the “elders” offering the prayers of the faithful (shown as incense rising upward from earth to heaven). The prayers of the faithful were directed to the saints from whom the elders receive them.
I hope you find this helpful and that you’ll get a copy of Tim Staples’ book and give Taylor Marshall’s podcast a listen. Until next time then, God bless you and may His peace be always with you.
This has been a post in the Something About Mary Every Day In May series. Stay tuned for more. :)
Notes and Links
*Catholic Answers article mentioned in this post: Mary, the Mother of God.
Hopefully the popup box will appear so you can get the free ebook. I don’t have a direct link for it. I just checked and the link (from 2019) is no longer active. But you can still get the book at a low price using the links below.
Image: I’ve been unable to track down the owner of the photo. It’s a lot harder to find a free-to-use photo of a thurible in use than you might think. If anyone has a larger image, please send me a message. Thanks!