The saints, however, stand out in luminous distinction. These are people who, in union with Christ and filled with his Spirit, led lives of heroic virtue rooted in faith, hope, and charity. Their life was centered on one Person: the, Son of God who became man and died for the redemption of mankind. The lives of the saints were governed by “the way and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6), Jesus Christ, whose leadership is the way of service and example, the way of perfection, mercy, and love. Therefore, the saints were generally not popular cultural figures who somehow left their mark. Although often unknown to the worldly multitude, their lives hidden in God, the saints are unrepeatable, unique, and exemplary examples of what it means to live human life to its fullest. They show us not only the true goal of humanity but how that goal is attained. In virtue of their total union with Christ, the saints consistently offer humankind a pattern of blessed life worthy of duplication.
Read more about what it means to be a saint.
The saints—all of them—are models of human excellence. They demonstrate by their lives how to really live and how to really die. They consistently point to the horizon of love which leads to the fulfillment of all human desire: eternal communion with the Holy Trinity: God the Father; the Son sent into the world by the Father in order to engage in total solidarity with humankind and, by voluntarily sacrificing his body and blood on the cross, gift us with life in abundance; the Holy Spirit, who is the Love of Father and Son personified, is sacramentally infused into the hearts of men in order to bestow upon us the gift of a share in the divine life of God, and build men up into the body of Christ, the Church. The saints’ lives shout of God’s glory and the path to him Who lies beyond death yet meets us, consoles us, fills us and guides us with his own divine light in the present.
The Saints Intercede for The Faithful
Saints offer more than simply serving as exemplary role models and guides to a fruitful and happy life. By their intercessory prayer, the saints help us in direct and concrete ways. This human assistance from the heavenly realm is not to be attributed solely to the power of the saints, of course, for that would be a kind of false worship, but primarily to the power of God, whose face they unceasingly gaze upon in total and consuming love. It is God who primarily acts and brings about a particular positive outcome/change in our lives in answer to prayer, whatever it may be, even if we do not recognize it for what it is or mistake it for something it is not; it is the saints, our friends in prayer, who plead before God on our behalf in order to obtain the divine assistance of God.
The saints, then, can influence our lives in vastly superior ways, since they are initiators through intercessory prayer of many spiritual benefits and goods we may receive from God. In the saints, we have ordinary people made extraordinarily great through the gift of God, whose words of prayer unfailingly reach God on our behalf. These are precisely the people a sane, rightly ordered and rational person wants to know!
Further, the merits of the saints’ works, which they have won in Christ through lives of faith, hope, and charity, can be communicated to others since all are joined together in the one body of Christ. This communion of goods means that the intercession of the saints can aid the entire population of people who choose to call upon them through intercessory prayer.
The intercession of the saints. Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix all those who call upon them and pray with them more firmly in holiness. . . . They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus . . . . So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped.
Praying To The Saints Is NOT Idolatry
Some non-Catholic (and even some misinformed or uncatechized Catholics) Christians fear praying to the saints is idolatry at worst or, at best, a lack of sound prioritisation of prayer time. This misunderstanding is based on a faulty understanding of the reality of God, the created order, and the family of saints in communion with him. Of course, we primarily pray to God the Father in his Son and through his Spirit. God rightly receives our priority in prayer. However, our relationship with God can never be diminished or wounded by also fostering a relationship with the saints. After all, the Son of God made man loved his mother, the sweet Virgin Mary who is Queen of the Saints, as well as his foster father, St. Joseph, and spent his entire childhood with his holy family without ever neglecting his love of and prayer to his heavenly Father.
Jesus loved his family with a love that far exceeds the possibilities of our love for our own families because he is perfect love in himself, as the Son of God; yet he did not in loving his family restrict his relationship with his Father in any way. In Jesus Christ, we have the perfect man who turns his attention to other members of the human family and builds relationships with them, while yet remaining in a perfect, unitive relationship of love with God the Father.
Refusing to engage in a relationship with the saints is precisely to turn our backs on our brothers and sisters in Christ, who image Christ most perfectly, second to Mary, the Mother of God. It is to ignore our heavenly family and to fail to love the very people Christ died for and whose love for us is without equal, although we fail to fully comprehend it in the present. None of this is supportive of the unity of the Church. The saints are our most excellent role models and friends in prayer because Christ has made them to be so! If we think of the saints as distant, extended family, we’re missing the reality of the way things are. They’re family as members of the one and same body of Christ, joined to Christ most intimately and forever; in virtue of that union and ours, so too they are joined to us.
Based on the incorrect idea that prayer can only mean communicating with God, some equate prayer to the saints with worship of the same. This notion, too, is false. When Catholics pray to a saint, the word prayer is used in the sense of to “communicate,” to “entreat,” to “ask.” Worship and adoration are given to God alone, who is deserving of all glory and our complete love; veneration and honor are given to the saints. We have a relationship to God as a created child to his divine Father; our relationship to the saints is one brother or sister in Christ to our honored and respected fellow brethren. The saints are worthy of our veneration in virtue of the exemplary earthly lives of faith, hope, and charity they led in union with Christ, as well as by virtue of their confirmation in Christ in the heavenly realm. But devotion to the saints reaches even further:
Communion with the saints. It is not merely by the title of example that we cherish the memory of those in heaven; we seek, rather, that by this devotion to the exercise of fraternal charity the union of the whole Church in the Spirit may be strengthened. Exactly as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself:
We worship Christ as God’s Son; we love the martyrs as the Lord’s disciples and imitators, and rightly so because of their matchless devotion towards their king and master. May we also be their companions and fellow disciples
Friendship With The Saints Is of Eternal Value
Obviously, given the difficulties and trials we face here below, it is to our spiritual advantage to get to know and make friends with some of the saints. Because in doing so we are dealing with another person, it is necessary to open oneself up to that person through the initiation of a relationship; it is also necessary for that other person to open himself up also to us in some way. Communication must take place. An environment of mutual reception must be established. One person cannot know another in isolation but only through relationship, through communion. Prayer to the saints is simply to communicate, to initiate and foster a relationship. Who would ever try to grow a friendship with another person without ever contacting that person?
The goal of praying to the saints is to establish a friendship of unending and eternal value. It is to strengthen your union with them in the Spirit through the exercise of fraternal charity. Within the context of this friendship, our heavenly brothers and sisters in Christ intercede on our behalf that we may attain to the same kind of completeness and happiness they themselves possess. For this to occur, we too must become saints; we too must join in unity with Christ, our Divine King. And that is precisely what our friends dwelling above, the saints, pray for on our behalf.
It is important to remember that no one is born a saint; everyone must be made into a saint by the grace of God and everyone has the potential for that making. To become a saint is a process of transformation in cooperation with God. It begins with faith in Christ and baptism, it continues with a life lived sacramentally in the heart of the Church, strengthened by the Spirit and in union with Christ, the Master and King as his disciple, as another “Christ.” It is a life lived in harmony with God’s plan, not in opposition to it. It’s a life of love and happiness and, not without its sacrifice, a life of carrying one’s cross.
Saint are important for your spiritual Journey
Wherever you stand when it comes to saints, here are eight reasons why you can take them seriously and why they’re important for your spiritual journey.
Saints Have High Standards
Saints started out as ordinary people, and they faced the same challenges as everyone else around them did. But instead of staying ordinary, they pushed themselves to grow in grace and love so that they could become extraordinary individuals.
How did they accomplish “extraordinary”? They always strove to place God first. And you can do this, too, whether you’re a Catholic or not. For example, who or what is God to you? How can you increase your connection to this Higher Power and grow in love, too?
Saints Are Faithful to a Higher Power
Everyone’s familiar with the motivational phrase, “Keep your eye on the prize.” And Catholic saints did this very well. What was their prize? To put it very simply, God. They learned to give up selfishness, pride, anger, and hate because these stood in the way of attaining union with God.
Saints continue to motivate Catholics today, but their influence can extend to anyone. For example, if you have a spiritual practice – whatever it may be – are you letting other distractions take priority and cloud your life?
Saints Are Passionate
Each saint had their own unique personality, but there’s one thing they all had in common. They were all passionate people, and nothing could extinguish the crazy love they had for God. Some of them gave up social popularity, family, careers and even their own lives instead of doing anything that would offend God.
Saints discovered what gave their life intense meaning, and they committed to this through hell or high water. Committing to your passion is a challenge with so much vying for your attention, but saints kept a laser-like focus. And if they could do it, you can, too.
Saints Have Cool Stories
The natural consequence of living a passionate life is leaving a magical legacy in your wake. Consider St. Augustine, a promiscuous youth, whose conversion story was so dramatic that his Confessions are still studied in secular universities to this day.
The twin sister of St. Benedict, St. Scholastica, was a force to be reckoned with. Since she could only visit her brother once a year, she didn’t want to say goodbye at the end of their yearly visit. What did she do to make her brother stay? She prayed for a storm, and St. Benedict had no other choice but to extend visit until the following day.
Saints’ Feast Days Enrich Cultures
In Europe, where the Catholic faith has been practiced for over 2,000 years, saints’ feast days have become bona fide cultural events. On the Italian island, Sardegna, St. Ephisius is honored by over 3,000 people with a four-day feast beginning on May 1st. It’s complete with processions, which include traditional costumes and horses.
To honor Our Lady of Guadalupe, thousands of Mexicans and foreign visitors attend a church surface in Mexico City, followed by parties throughout the streets, all to celebrate a very important mother figure for Central America and beyond.
Saints are Historical
Even though saints are inspirational and motivational, that might not make them very important for you, especially since there are many powerful spiritual leaders living today – people you can follow on Twitter and Facebook, if you wanted to. Saints, on the other hand, are no longer alive.
But that also makes them fascinating. They lived in different time periods and conditions, societies and cultures, and had diverse backgrounds and social statuses. St. Thomas More worked for the King Henry VIII. St. Louis, on the other hand, was a king himself.
But whether you’re a history buff or not, it’s interesting to see how these holy men and women navigated different cultures, expectations, and norms. Because no matter what the country or century, there’s one constant factor that unites us all: human nature and every saint had to deal with it, too.
Saints Help People Like You and Me
We’ve all been told that “It’s not what you know. It’s who you know.” And you can think of saints this way, too. They’re no longer alive here on earth, but Catholics believe that they exist in Heaven, or, in the presence of God.
This means that saints are a connection between you and God. They’re the middlemen (and women!) between heaven and earth. So, if there’s something you’re struggling with, or a prayer you’re lifting up, you don’t have to ask for help alone. You can ask the saints to pray along with you. Since they’re always with God, they can put in a good word for you.
For Saints, Life is Both Everything and Nothing
No matter what your spiritual leaning, you probably believe that there’s more to this earthly life than what meets the eye. In fact, you may even believe that life on earth can distract you from growing in love, peace, and joy. Well, you’re in good company, because the saints thought so, too.
However, they still made the most of this life. They knew that living a good life here on earth meant enjoying true peace when their life continued after death. Saints knew that earth wasn’t their permanent home, but they were down-to-earth in their search for heaven. And this is a mindset that is paramount for today’s spiritual seekers, too.
Saints can enrich your spiritual practice, whether you follow a Western or Eastern religion or no religion at all. They’re people just like you and me, but then again, they’re so much more. Yet, they joyfully lead the way to living a more extraordinary life.
I hope you enjoyed reading more about ‘our’ Saints and why they are import for us throughout life. Reach out to them for intercessory prayer when praying to God. It has been said in Revelation that when Saints pray that their prayers is like incense that floats gracefully towards God and their prayers for intercession is heard immediately.