Choose a topic from Vol 3:


Reason proves God's existence
Primitive monotheism
Mystery of God's inner nature
Personality of God
Providence of God and the problem of evil


Immortal destiny of man
Can earth give true happiness?
Do human souls evolve?
Is transmigration possible?
Animal souls
Freedom of will
Free will and faith


Religion and God
The duty of prayer
The mysteries of religion
Can we believe in miracles?

The Religion of the Bible

Historical character of the Gospels
Canonical Books of the Bible
Original Manuscripts
Copyists' errors
Truth of the Bible
New Testament "contradictions"

The Christian Religion

Christianity alone true
Not the product of religious experience
Compared with Buddhism, Confucianism, Mahometanism, Bahaism, etc.,
Rejected by modern Jews
The demand for miracles
The necessity of faith
Difficulties not doubts
Proofs available
Dispositions of unbelievers

A Definite Christian Faith

One religion not as good as another
Changing one's religion
Catholic convictions and zeal
Religious controversy
The curse of bigotry
Towards a solution

The Problem of Reunion

Efforts at the reunion of the Churches
The Church of England as a "Bridge-Church"
Anglicans and the Greek Orthodox Church
The "Old Catholics" of Holland
Reunion Conferences
Catholic Unity
The Papacy as reunion center
Protestant hostility to Catholicism
The demands of charity

The Truth of Catholicism

Necessity of the Church
The true Church
Catholic claim absolute
A clerical hierarchy
Papal Supremacy
Temporal Power
Unity of the Church
Holiness of the Church
Catholicity of the Church
Catholic attitude to converts
Indefectible Apostolicity
Necessity of becoming a Catholic

The Church and the Bible

Catholic belief in the Bible
Bible-reading and private interpretation
Value of Tradition and the "Fathers"
Guidance of the Church necessary

The Dogmas of the Catholic Church

Dogmatic certainty
Credal statements
Faith and reason
The voice of science
Fate of rationalists
The dogma of the Trinity
Creation and evolution
The existence of angels
Evil spirits or devils
Man's eternal destiny
The fact of sin
Nature and work of Christ
Mary, the mother of God
Grace and salvation
The sacraments
Holy Eucharist
The Sacrifice of the Mass
Holy Communion
Marriage and divorce
Extreme Unction
Man's death and judgment
Resurrection of the body
End of the World

Moral Teachings of the Catholic Church

Catholic intolerance
The Spanish Inquisition
Prohibition of Books
Liberty of worship
Forbidden Socieities
Church attendance
The New Psychology
Deterministic philosophy
Marriage Legislation
Birth Prevention
Monastic Life
Convent Life
Legal defense of murderers
Laywers and divorce proceedings
Judges in Divorce
Professional secrecy

The Church in Her Worship

Why build churches?
Glamor of ritual
The "Lord's Prayer"
Pagan derivations
Liturgical symbolism
Use of Latin
Intercession of Mary and the Saints

The Church and Social Welfare

The Church and Education
The Social Problem
Social Duty of the Church
Catholicism and Capitalism

Intercession of Mary and the Saints

1319. Prayers to saints seem to me to be the thin edge of the wedge of spiritualism, which is abhorrent to the Lord.

There can be no comparison between the two. The intercommunication by prayer of all who are united in God is a very different thing from efforts to communicate directly with departed spirits in curious ways forbidden by God, and independently of God. Our union with the saints in the love and in the presence of God naturally expresses itself by prayer. And we ask the prayers of the saints according to God's will, honoring God in them, and seeking only to become more closely united with God even as they. But the seeking of information and revelations from departed spirits, whether saints or not, in dubious ways forbidden by God, is a usurpation of rights which do not belong to us, and very easily leads to superstition and blasphemy.

1320. Christ has made all the intercession that is necessary.

Christ has not made all the intercession that is necessary. If so, why does St. James writing well after the Ascension of Christ from this world and under the inspiration of God, write V., 16, "Pray one for another that you may be saved."There are many secondary mediators who derive their power from Christ and retain it in and through Christ. That this is so is evident from Acts XII., 5, where Christians offered prayer without ceasing for St. Peter who was in prison. What right had they to mediate - if your idea be true? St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "We pray that you may do no evil." He was interceding for them. To Philemon he wrote, "I hope that through your prayers I shall be given to you." To the Hebrews XIII., 18, he wrote asking their prayers for him. "Pray for us," he writes; "for we hope to have a good conscience and behave well in all things."Again St. Paul wrote to the Romans XV., 30, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, through our Lord Jesus Christ and by the charity of the Holy Spirit, that you help me in your prayers for me to God." Was St. Paul relying on their help rather than on the merits of Christ? No. But Christ had said, "I am the vine, you are the branches," i. e., branches deriving their life and value from Him. Each member is incorporated in Christ, and Christ lives in His members. Consequently, any value in the prayers of others is derived from Christ, and in this sense St. Paul wrote to the Christians at Rome, "I beseech you, help me by your prayers for me to God." And he certainly hoped to benefit by the medium of their prayers for him.The principle then is Scriptural that we may benefit by each other's prayers. It is certain, also, that the prayer of a saintly person added to my own will deserve more graces than my own prayers alone could do.Whose prayers will I ask? St. Paul asked his fellow Christians in Rome to pray for him to God. We also may do that. Also, in virtue of the Communion of Saints, we may ask the intercession of souls already in heaven with God, and what better than to ask the prayers of Mary, the very Mother of Christ.

1321. Why is it necessary to pray to the Virgin Mary or the saints? There is but one Mediator, Christ Jesus, from whom we may obtain forgiveness and life everlasting.

If a mother prays for a wayward son, she is mediating on behalf of that son. And if God hears her prayers, that does not detract from the mediation of Christ. And as she can pray for her son, the Lady Mother of Christ and the saints can pray for us. And when they do, it is Jesus mediating for us, for it is Jesus in them Who is doing so. You lack understanding of Christian doctrine. Christians, whether in heaven or on earth, are the members of Christ. He identifies Himself with them. When Saul persecuted the Christians, Jesus said to him, "Why persecutest thou Me?" And if the sufferings of the saints are His sufferings; the intercession of the saints is another form of His intercession. We Catholics believe in the Communion of saints; the common union of all saints in Christ. Protestants say that they believe in the Communion of Saints, but sedulously exclude all union with them. Catholics at least are conscious of belonging to the great family of God's children, and do not insist on being strangers to all with whom they will be associated in heaven.

1322. I. Tim. II., 5 says that there is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.

Correct, and Catholics also believe that.

1323. Then why do Catholics pray to the Virgin Mary and other saints to make intercession for them?

Firstly, because doing so is not opposed to the passage you quote. Even though we pray to our Lady and the saints, it is in the Name of Jesus that we ask them to intercede for us, and it is that they may obtain for us a greater share in the fruits of His mediation with God on our behalf.Secondly, not only is prayer to our Lady and the saints not opposed to the passage you quote, it is an application of it. For, according to the New Testament, Jesus makes all who belong to Him members of Himself. He is the Head, and we are the members. And the members are not only for Him, but they are for each other, and can help each other. For example, my eye is for me, and my hand is for me. But my hand can protect my eye if someone throws a brick at me. But always the power and the life in my eye or in my hand is my power and my life. So, too, I, a poor little member of Christ can appeal to much nobler members of Christ in the persons of Mary and the saints when the devil starts throwing bricks at me. But any power and life in our Lady and the saints is the power and life of Christ and is derived from Him. So I am appealing to Him after all - I, in Christ, appeal to Christ in other members whom He has deigned to associate more closely with Himself; and any hope I have in their intercession is in the name of Christ and through His one great mediation with God. Your difficulties are due to the very superficial view you have of our Christian religion, and a strange tendency to isolate members of the great family of the children of God one from another. From time immemorial Christians have said, "I believe in the Communion of Saints." That means the "common union" of all in Christ, and implies their communication one with another. Catholics understand this, and criticism from others is merely because they have no real understanding of the Christian religion.

1324. I can apprehend the Communion of Saints in the Holy Eucharist, but I cannot understand or apprehend (two very different words) the Communication of Saints i. e., Christians on earth communicating by prayer to a departed saint, even though so hi

What is the Communion of Saints in the Holy Eucharist, if not the common union of all who love Christ, expressed in a Sacramental way? The Catholic Church is simply our spiritual mother, giving life in Baptism; forgiving faults and sins in Confession; nourishing us with the food of the Eucharist, and uniting us all as children of God in that one great Christian family known as the Communion of Saints. And that great family of the children of God includes the Church Triumphant in heaven; the Church Militant on earth; and the Church Suffering in purgatory. And the children of this great spiritual family are not strangers to each other. We are all members of the one Christ, and members of Christ on earth can benefit by the intercession of members of Christ in heaven. And since that is so, we may pray to the saints, asking them to intercede for us. I would find it far more difficult to understand or apprehend that the union of all in Christ would be a sterile and fruitless bond as far as the relationship of member to member is concerned. Or that the prayer of a just man should avail much, as St. James says, only whilst that just man still lives in this world; and that he should lose all interest in us, and power to pray for us, merely because he has been transferred to heaven.

1325. Why do not the Protestant churches teach us anything about Mary's power of intercession for us?

Because they have wrested Scripture to the destruction of all true understanding of Christian revelation, and have been led into many grave errors by an exaggerated literalism. Concentrating on the fact that Christ is the one principal Mediator, they have made no allowance for the equally clear doctrine of secondary mediation of one human being for another with, in, and through Christ. Though they repeat the words of the Creed, "I believe in the Communion of Saints," they have no idea of the practical significance of those words. They do not understand that they mean the common union in Christ of all who love Him, so that He lives in them as in His very members, and in them as His own mystical body. But we Catholics understand this doctrine, and know that member can help member. We accept the teaching of St. James that the prayer of a just soul availeth much. And first and foremost among the just is the Mother of Christ. She is with God; she shared in the redemptive work of Christ; she is interested in all whom Jesus died to redeem; and as He makes constant intercession in heaven for us now, she associates her intercession with His, and we rightly ask for a share in her intercession as well as in His.

1326. How do you account for the silence of the Protestant churches concerning the Mother of Christ?

They would justify it by declaring devotion to Mary to be a kind of superstition and idolatry. But their belief is mistaken, and based upon a superficial knowledge of Christianity, together with a lingering prejudice against Catholic teaching and practices. There is, however, a deeper explanation. In the very beginning God declared that He would put enmity between Satan and the woman who was to undo the work of our first mother Eve. And in virtue of that promise there is a deadly enmity between Mary and Satan. Those two are as irreconcilable as Christ and Satan. Where you find Mary, therefore, you will not find Satan; and where you find Satan you will not find Mary. Now Satan is the principle of disruption even as Christ is the principle of unity. All movements disruptive of the unity of the Church have been the work of Satan; and the more radical these disruptive movements have been, the more they have felt impelled to abandon all relations with Mary, the Mother of Christ. On the other hand, Mary has ever retained her proper place in the Catholic religion.

1327. I asked a Catholic to quote one instance in the Bible where Mary interceded between man and Christ, and he could quote only the marriage feast at Cana.

That is the one case where the Virgin Mary is explicitly mentioned. But it is not the only text possible in support of the intercessory power of Mary. There are dozens of texts guaranteeing the intercessory power of the saints, and indeed of any human being in the grace and friendship of Christ. Every text in the New Testament showing the identity of the faithful with Christ in His mystical body the Church proves the intercessory power of every member of Christ. And since the Mother of Christ is the greatest of the saints and most nearly related to Christ, all such texts prove her intercessory power with Him. But let us take your difficulty in regard to the particular text I quoted.

1328. An intercession loses all its charm for me when it is priced so high as to meet with the rebuke, "Woman, what haveI to do with thee?"

Firstly, that is not the correct translation of what Jesus said. According to the Greek text He really replied, "Woman, what is it to me and to thee?" And there is no t:race of a rebuke in His words. He was speaking in Aramaic, and the word for which "Woman" is the English equivalent was one of the utmost respect. Nor would Christ, the model of every virtue, address His mother save with the greatest reverence. Moreover, Mary had noticed the possible discomfiture of the hosts at the wedding feast in not having provided sufficient wine for the guests, and Christ would be the last in the world to rebuke a request prompted only by charity.Further, had Mary understood that Jesus intended to rebuke her, she would not have gone on with the matter, telling the waiters to prepare for what her Son would do. And still further, had Jesus intended to rebuke her for a wrong thing He would not have fulfilled her wish. Yet He did so. It is impossible to interpret the reply He gave His mother as a rebuke. He uttered a common Eastern expression meaning, "It is not really our responsibility, Lady Mother of Mine." And it is evident that He betrayed a smiling acquiescence as He said the words, so that Mary knew her request was granted.

1329. Pope Pius XI once attributed his recovery from sickness to St. Therese of Lisieux.

I have no grounds for any other judgment save that the Pope declared his belief that his improvement was due to the intercession of St. Therese of the Child Jesus. Whether the Pope was mistaken in that belief or not, I do not know. He may have been, for this is not a case in which he would be safeguarded from error by his infallibility. One thing, however, is certain. He would not be mistaken on the score that it is either wrong or useless to appeal to the intercession of the saints.

1330. Don't you think that a dead woman could not intercede?

I will not comment upon your crude reference to a canonized saint who has been honored by the Church solely because of her heroic Christian virtue and charity. But let me ask a few questions of you. Do you believe that human beings possess souls? Do you believe that human souls are immortal of their very nature? And if you believe in the future life of the soul, do you think that "a dead woman" is a sufficient description of a departed Christian?Again, granted that the souls of the just are with God, do you believe that, though they prayed for their friends on earth, they are less capable of such prayer, or less willing to pray for others still in this world, merely because they have attained to the Vision of God and the full charity of heaven? To bring this home to yourself in a more impressive way, if your mother died, would she be merely a "dead woman" to you? And if you believed her soul to be with God, would it be difficult for you to believe that she had not lost all interest in you, and that she would plead with God that the child she brought forth into this world might also attain heavenly happiness with her? Would you object to this intercession of a dead woman for you? If not, you must rectify your ideas, and admit the reasonableness of the Catholic doctrine that the saints can intercede for us who are still in this world.



Prefer a PRINT version?