CTC Radio Update

Dec 1st, 2014 | By | Category: Radio


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  1. I cannot call in to the show but in answer to your question what holds me back from joining the Catholic church is the devotion and prayers to Mary and the Saints. In studying Polycarp and Ignatius and other early church fathers I do not see any reference to them asking for intercession from either Mary or any Saints. I do not read any reference to saints, either. What am I missing?

  2. Not Ignatius but Ireneus. Can’t spell and bad memory! Lol

  3. What is the answer to Rita’s question on December 16, 2014? I have the same question and would love a response.

  4. @Rita and Pam Lynn,

    You might find this article helpful: http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2012/08/relics-saints-and-the-assumption-of-mary/

    May I ask the precise nature of your questions? You mention the historical development of the practice, but if one were able to demonstrate that this practice arose immediately upon Christ’s death (and may have even been continuous with Israelite practice), would you still have other objections to praying to a saint?

    Happy new year!


  5. My question is in regards to Ignatius and Polycarp. There is no mention in anything that I’ve read and studied from there writing that indicated the disciples taught praying to any other than Jesus. (I said Irenaes -sp- in my second post but I was right in my first post). The two of them , from what I’ve read so far, only pray to God and do not invoke intercession from Mary or any angel. That’s where I am coming from….if it was common practice in Jewish tradition and carried on with the apostles then why is there no mention of this practice in the Gospels or the 1st century church fathers.

    Thanks for your response, Beth. I wasn’t sure anyone was going to answer. I kept checking every now and then.

    A Blessed New Year!

  6. @Rita,

    It’s great that you’re doing your homework and looking at early sources regarding Christian devotional practice. If we find it there in Polycarp and Ireneus, and we are certain we understand what they mean by it, we can be confident that we have evidence of the Church’s early practices with respect to the saints on our hands. But I don’t think it’s right to expect Polycarp and Ireneus to have written about *everything* that early Christian practice entailed. So the absence doesn’t prove it wasn’t done, or even that it wasn’t common.

    If you go to the following post and scroll down to the comments section, you will find links providing early evidence of prayer to saints in comments #7 and #8. http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2014/02/do-the-saints-pray-for-us-a-response-to-perry-sukstorf-and-marcia-fleischman/

    It’s also worth noting that Christian persecution in the early centuries of the Church occasionally involved the destruction of sacred literature (the Diocletian persecution, for example). In light of that, it’s reasonable to expect that evidence of Christian devotional practice from this time might be sparse.

    A blessed new year to you, as well!

  7. Thanks, Beth, for the link. All I see in that thread are a disagreement between Catholic teachings and Pat as to where the practice of praying for intercessions of saints (and Mary) began. I, like Pat, have to have solid ecidence that this practice was begun by Christ and His apostles. In forums on the Catholic Answers site I have been told to look at the early church fathers to find answers. At this point my studies do not come up with anybody teaching or actually doing it.

    I’m working off my phone right now so I want to download the thread that you posted the link for so that I can read and study better.

    Again, thank you for your post.


  8. Rita –

    The links provided in Bryan’s comments (#7 and #8) are here, for your reference:

    A prayer to Mary is found on Egyptian papyrus, dated approximately 250 AD (author unknown).

    Other ancient documents which reference prayers to saints.

    Do these references satisfy your inquiry?


  9. Thanks, Beth, for the added info. I will, once again, download the info to add to my studies. I appreciate your patience with me as I continue to study.

    I think my bottom line is that if Jesus thought these were important, why didn’t He give us instructions on them as He did with the Lord’s Prayer?

    As I haven’t been able to study the last couple of days, you may already prov ided info to clarify the Catholic position.

    Again, I appreciate you taking the time to send me info. Take care!

  10. As St. John writes, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” The early accounts we have of Our Lord’s work and teaching are not exhaustive. It’s possible He did give instruction regarding the intercession of the saints, and it simply wasn’t written down in the Gospels. Some instructions need to be received, in faith, through the teaching and example of others.

  11. I understand that but something as important as praying to saints, and the Virgin Mary ought to be something we see in at least the apostles or their disciples teachings. As I said, I couldn’t get to reading and studying the info you directed me to, along with my other info that I’ve been studying. It’s important to have it all together to cross-reference. Thanks again for your time. :-)

  12. Rita (#11)

    I understand that but something as important as praying to saints, and the Virgin Mary ought to be something we see in at least the apostles or their disciples teachings.

    Why do you think praying to saints and the Virgin Mary of such supreme importance? It does not seem obvious to me that this is so. We are not worshipping them.

    We don’t see abortion as something explicitly forbidden in the New Testament, but we can infer it from the Old and from Our Lord’s dealing with children. The New Testament certainly tells us (1) that we can ask others to pray for us, and (2) that those who have died are ‘with the Lord.’ It does not seem difficult to infer that we can ask them for their prayers – which is all we are doing when we pray to them.

    It is worth noting the many Catholic litanies which begin with things like ‘Lamb of God, have mercy on us’ and ‘Holy Spirit have mercy on us’ – but never proceed to ‘Holy Mary, Mother of God, have mercy on us.’ Rather, when they get to her and to the saints the response is ‘pray for us.’


  13. Rita,

    I am interested in this statement:

    “if Jesus thought these were important, why didn’t He give us instructions on them as He did with the Lord’s Prayer?”

    Applying your reasoning to another question, I’d like to ask, “If Jesus thought it was important for us to Study the New Testament Scriptures, why didn’t he give us instructions on them as He did with the Lord’s Prayer?”

    If we follow the teaching and example of Christ, we have to conclude that liturgy, oral tradition, and apostolic authority are the only authorities we should consult, for these are the only authorities mentioned by Jesus. Jesus never mentions the New Testament Scriptures.


  14. David and Rita (re:#11 and #12),

    David, I was actually thinking along similar lines as you mentioned in comment #12.

    Rita, if the validity and the importance of a teaching or practice should be measured by how many times it is mentioned in the New Testament, then logically speaking, shouldn’t that throw the New Testament *itself* into question– because Jesus says absolutely nothing to His disciples about either writing the New Testament *or* canonizing it?

    To be clear, I’m *not* meaning to denigrate Sacred Scripture– not at all!! Scripture is a huge part of we know about Jesus, His life and death, and His message of redemption and salvation. As a Catholic, I love the Bible!

    However, I also can’t see how a teaching or practice not being mentioned, or only being mentioned indirectly, in the Scriptures, *necessarily* means that it is invalid. By that standard, logically speaking, the very existence of the New Testament would seem to be invalid. I give thanks to God that the Church has told us otherwise!

  15. Didn’t He? Aren’t the Scriptures Gid inspired? That’s the premise I always start with.

    I need to take some time to read thru the info that Beth gave me. I have “issues” physically that also inhibit my cognitive abilities which makes it harder for me to read and remember.

    Thanks for your question!

  16. Rita,

    You wrote: “Didn’t He?”

    Actually, no. Jesus nowhere indicates that we are to look to the inspired Scriptures as our sole rule of faith.

    “Aren’t the Scriptures Gid inspired?” Yes, but whether or not they are inspired does not tell us that God intends the inspired text to serve as our sole rule of faith. God can inspire a book without intending it to serve as the Church’s rule of faith. That is, in fact, exactly what God has done. He has given the Church an inspired book that serves all kinds of purposes – historical narrative, moral exhortation, doctrinal instruction – but God has nowhere said that he intends that book to serve as the church’s sole rule of faith.

    He has assigned that job to a different authority.



  17. Dave and Christoper,
    Thanks for your responses but, as I stated before, I have to look at all material that you have given me. I’m a slow thinker and don’t debate as easily as I once did. You obviously have spent time answering and clarifying the questions of non-Catholics and I think that is great! But, going back to the initial topic, I do not see any info from the Bible (old and new testaments), the apostles or their disciples from the first century.

    The absence of these practices from the references I have does not mean that it was a standard practice to pray to Mary, the saints and/or the angels.

    Please bear with me as I look thru the info that Beth gave me along with yours and Christoper’s. I spent all afternoon trying to get my printer to communicate with my computer but it has worked and I have downloaded some of those references now. I will probably get back to you all tomorrow sometime.

  18. Can’t even spell my name right!!! ;)

  19. Rita – take as much time as you need. We just get really, really excited about answering comments sometimes. :)

    I would also somewhat echo John’s question to you above (#12): when you say that the Lord did not mention (at least not that we know of, at least not that was written down by the disciples who recorded the Gospels) something “so important” as the intercession of the saints, why do you classify this issue as “so important”? What about the intercession of the saints earns such a designation from you?


  20. John, thanks for your question. I know that, for the most part, Catholics do not worship Mary or the saints. I do not see the point of asking someone who has passed to intercede to Jesus for us? Yes, it’s good to have others pray for us but I don’t believe that people who have died can intercede for us. I have heard and have downloaded why Catholics teach this but am not anywhere near the point of accepting it.

    As to Mary, I have heard prayers that specifically state words about worshiping her. I don’t have them in hand right now.

    Again, where I want to start is with the apostles and their disciples up to about 200 AD as the further away from Christ’s death the more the potential for the disintegration of the true teachings of Christ thru His apostles.

    I definitely am not trying to be disrespectful just searching for what is true.

    Thanks, everyone! Goodnight!

  21. Rita,

    Thank you for the response. As Beth said, please take all of the time that you need to think through these things. I have chronic pain issues, related to my physical disability (which I’ve had from birth) *and* to an accident from a few years ago, so I know how it is for one’s body to “mess with” one’s ability to read and think quickly and easily. I’ll be praying for you.

  22. Hi Rita,

    Regarding prayer to the saints,there is plenty of scriptural evidence for the intercession of saints and angels.

    Please see the following links:

    Do the Saints Pray For us


    Consider also the vision of Judas Maccabeaus, in which Onias and Jeremiah (both deceased) are seen interceding for the Jews: (2 Maccabees 15):

    He told them that he had seen a vision of Onias, the former High Priest, that great and wonderful man of humble and gentle disposition, who was an outstanding orator and who had been taught from childhood how to live a virtuous life. With outstretched arms Onias was praying for the entire Jewish nation. 13 Judas then saw an impressive white-haired man of great dignity and authority. 14 Onias said:

    This is God’s prophet Jeremiah, who loves the Jewish people and offers many prayers for us and for Jerusalem, the holy city.
    15 Then Jeremiah stretched out his right hand and gave Judas a gold sword, saying as he did so,
    16 This holy sword is a gift from God. Take it and destroy your enemies.

    And Tobit 12: 15: “I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels who present the prayers of the saints and enter into the presence of the glory of the Holy One.”

    Compare this to Revelation 5:8:

    “And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.”

    That the saints in heaven intercede for the Church on earth is a most biblical doctrine.
    That we are to ask their intercession is confirmed by the teaching and practice of the same Church that gathered the sacred scriptures together in the present canon.


  23. Rita (#20)

    I know that, for the most part, Catholics do not worship Mary or the saints…

    Hmm… I think it’s worth pointing out here that what Catholics do is not identical with the Catholic faith. If there are Catholics who do, in fact, worship (in the sense of giving honour to a creature that belongs only to the Creator) Mary or the saints, then this is not a statement about Catholicism; this is a statement about those persons and the particular (in this case, grievous) sins they commit.

    Reformed Christians (which I once was) do not, for the most part, commit adultery; but even although some do, that doesn’t mean that committing adultery is part of Reformed Christianity.

    I think it is really important, if you are trying to find out about Catholicism, not to confuse what the Catholic faith actually is, and the errors of some Catholics.

    …I do not see the point of asking someone who has passed to intercede to Jesus for us…

    What I wonder here is why you think their having ‘passed’ means we should not ask them to intercede for us. You would not, I presume, have a problem asking your friend who is still alive to intercede for you. I should have thought that, a fortiori, your friend who has died and is now with Jesus would be a good person to ask to intercede for you. Why do you think that his death and being with the Lord should make it a bad idea to ask his intercession?

    …I don’t believe that people who have died can intercede for us…

    Can I ask why? I can imagine there being a problem knowing how they might be aware of your request. I wonder, though, if this is really such a big issue. When we are in Heaven, do you not think we will be able to know what is happening on earth? And I don’t think it unreasonable to suppose that ‘time’ in Heaven will be different from ‘time’ on earth – as though in Heaven you could say “OK, now here in Heaven, it is the 12th of January, 2021.” But if we are able to know what is happening on earth and are not limited to time in the same sense, then I shouldn’t have thought this was a problem.

    But maybe this isn’t why you don’t believe that those who have died in the Lord can intercede for us. If not, could you explain what your reason is?

    As to Mary, I have heard prayers that specifically state words about worshiping her. I don’t have them in hand right now.

    OK. Well, if they do unambiguously mean the prayers are treating her as God, then those are not Catholic prayers, in the sense of being prayers that the Catholic faith would allow. You must not, as I said above, treat the sins of Catholics as evidence of the Catholic faith. The Catholic faith is well-defined. Anyone who wishes can know what it is. It is explained in the Catholic Catechism. We are not allowed to honour any creature with the honour we give to God.

    Again, where I want to start is with the apostles and their disciples up to about 200 AD as the further away from Christ’s death the more the potential for the disintegration of the true teachings of Christ thru His apostles.

    There are two difficulties with this approach, it seems to me.

    First is the assumption that up to some point, the true teachings of Christ are to be found in the writings of early Christians. You would have to pick a date and, honestly, I don’t see how you would know what date to pick. I remember when I was in the throes of the storm that led me to the Church, one well-meaning Protestant sent me a book that claims that even in Acts 15 – which details the Jerusalem Council – usually dated to AD50 – the apostles departed from the faith in stating that the things they wrote to the Church were such that they could say “…it seems to the Holy Spirit and to us…” They departed from the faith, this (otherwise apparently straightforward Baptist) writer says, in claiming to know the mind of the Spirit.

    Secondly, you need to know which early Christians you trust. By AD200 there are surely many who would call themselves Christians with whom you would disagree – with whom others who call themselves Christians would disagree. How do you know whose writings to trust. Unless the Catholic Church is right in believing that God has promised that that Church will not fail (and thus will not authoritatively teach error), you don’t know who amongst the early Christians is in harmony with Jesus’s teachings.

    I know what it feels like to be in your position :-) I went through similar agonies myself. 19 years ago I was received into the Church and cannot begin to tell you how glad I am that I did! But I know that the personal testimony of others won’t help with these worries.


  24. Belive me, John, I’m not in the throes of agony! ;-) I am, and always have been, a seeker and a learner. I lived in a city that was predominantly Seventh Day Adventist and they were “positive” that what they taught was the Truth. I took my time learning what they taught and came away with a clearer understanding about who they were and what they believed. Their beliefs are not as bad as I had been led to believe.

    I am a member of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod but attend an LCMC church that broke away from an ELCA church whose teachings began to stray into allowing active homosexual pastors in the pulpit and did not consider all of the Bible as an inspired Word of God.

    I appreciate your addressing my statements but, seriously cannot address them at this time. I am currently studying the info you, Christopher, David and Beth have shared.

    I, like Christopher, deal with chronic pain ( severe at times) which also inhibits my cognitive abilities. It may take a couple of days I will post a response and/or question concerning some of your posts in this thread.

    Thanks again for your help! (To all of you!)

  25. Hello Rita,

    I do not mean to pile on, but one other article here at CtC that you might want to look at is this one which discusses archaeological evidence for Marian veneration in the 200s.

    Just fyi, if you are interested and need still more to read :-)



  26. Lol, Fred, thanks!

  27. Hi, Dave. I just heard you mention on the show that the practice of praying to the saints goes back to the 1st century. Can you point me in the direction of info/church father that states this?

    Still going thru other info but, having just heard you, I wanted to ask before I forgot.

    Thanks! I enjoy the show, btw. I’m learning more about why Catholics believe what they do.

    Stay warm!

  28. Hi Rita,

    Yes. The practice is of Jewish origin and predates the Christian era, as was the practice of praying for the dead. One thing to keep in mind is that the intercession of the saints in Christian antiquity is closely allied to the veneration of relics. So some of the first century evidence is indirect – i.e., evidence of relic devotion. Taylor Marshall’s book The eternal city goes through much of the archaeological evidence for such devotion in first century Christianity. Peter Brown’s book on the Cult of Saints is also helpful, especially for placing it in context of Jewish veneration of relics.
    I give more citations in my article: http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2012/08/relics-saints-and-the-assumption-of-mary/

    Evidence from the 2nd century forward is more ample and more explicit, culminating in the 2nd council of Nicaea.



  29. Thanks! (More to read) ;-)

  30. I am unable to call the show is it ok to ask a question here? I love the show! Keep up the good work!

  31. Yes, it’s always OK to ask questions here!

  32. Lea, you probably have questions that the rest of us need to know as well!

    Beth, I’m still studying the info. I hung around Catholic Answers for awhile but I’m back now.

  33. Heard Dave’s call. I am in Springfield about 70 or so miles east. We have (I.C. Parish) a bible study group that meets on Thursday of each week. The person leading the study is a former seminarian and very knowledgeable regrding biblical matters. Now, if Dave contacts you, give him my email and I will ask the leader to contact him and maybe they can coordinate something at the Rolla parish.

    Peace be with you.

    Dennis Hill

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