Neither are the souls of the pious dead separated from the Church which even now is the kingdom of Christ. Otherwise there would be no remembrance of them at the altar of God in the communication of the Body of Christ. -- Saint Augustine of Hippo from “The City of God

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Veneration And The Invocation of the Saints (From Goffine's Devout Instructions)


What is it to venerate the saints?

To venerate the saints is to show veneration, love, and confidence towards these friends of God and coheirs with Christ who, out of love for Him, have gone through the fight, are now honored by Him (Psalms 138: 17), and reign with Him in eternal happiness.

Does not the veneration of the saints infringe upon the honor due to God?

No ; it is rather a confirmation of it, since it refers only to God, and, in the saints, honors only Him.

Are we permitted, then, to venerate the saints?

Yes ; and not only permitted, but it is good and useful to do so if we would honor God.

Is it also lawful to venerate the relics of the saints that is, their bones, and articles that belonged to them?

Without doubt it is. This, indeed, has been the unbroken practice, both under the Old Law and the New, from the earliest times; and God has sanctioned it by the most remarkable miracles. Thus He brought a dead man to life by the bones of Eliseus (2 Kings 13: 21). The woman troubled with an issue of blood was made whole by barely touching the garments of Christ (Matthew 9: 22 ; Mark 5: 29 ; Luke 8: 47). By the shadow of St. Peter (Acts 5: 15), and the handkerchiefs and aprons of St. Paul (Acts 19: 12), different diseases were cured, and evil spirits expelled.

Why ought we to venerate the relics of the saints?

The reason is well given by the Council of Trent (Sess. 16.). They are precious remains of those bodies which, in their life time, were members of Christ and temples of the Holy Ghost, and which shall one day be raised up and glorified.


Is it lawful to call upon the saints for their intercession?

If a man may call upon his brothers and sisters for help, and upon pious people yet living for their prayers to God in his behalf, as God advised the friends of Job to do (Job 42: 8), as St. Paul did (1 Thessalonians 5: 25), as non-Catholics themselves do, why should not a man invoke the intercession of the saints in the presence of God, who are our brethren?

But is not the invocation of the saints opposed to trust in God, and to the mediatorship of Christ ?

No; for we do not address ourselves to the saints in any such sense as we would address ourselves to God ; but, confessing ourselves to be sinners, and unworthy to appear before God, we betake ourselves to these friends of God and glorified brethren of ours, that through their intercession, which prevails much before Him, He may be gracious to us, and bestow upon us His favors. Christ is and remains our only mediator through Whom we have access to the Father (Ephesians 2: 18) ; the saints are only intercessors who must pray to God for us through Jesus Christ.

Do the saints know of our prayers ?

If the holy angels rejoice over the conversion of the sinner (Luke 25: 10), and offer up the prayers of the saints as pleasing incense before the face of God (Revelation 8: 3), ought not the same privilege be allowed to the saints, as being the friends of God and of Jesus Christ, and as being partakers of the same glory as the angels? (John 15: 14, 15.) Did not Onias and Jeremiah, after their death, know of the sad condition of the Jewish people, and zealously pray for them ? (2 Maccabees 15: 12 - 16) God has a thousand ways of making known to them our prayers.

-- Goffine's Devout Instructions
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