Veneration of Saints

I’m currently reading a book by Scott Hahn titled “Angels and Saints: A Biblical Guide to Friendship with God’s Holy Ones.” I’m curious, why don’t evangelical protestants (and others) venerate the saints? I’ve heard protestants claim “I know I am saved” or – referring to a deceased loved one – “He/She accepted Christ and has gone on to live in glory.” If that’s true – if you know a loved one or some other individual is in Heaven, in the presence of God – why is that not honored? Why not ask that person to pray for you?

For Catholics – feel free to share your experience with saintly veneration…

I am somewhat sympathetic to the idea of venerating the saints. When it comes to saintly intercession, as Lutherans, our confessions teach that the saints in heaven pray continually for the saints on earth. We do not ask for their intercession chiefly because we are not instructed to do so. However, I honestly have no qualms with people who choose to do so.

We do disagree with some of the theology around saintly intercession, though (indulgences, treasury of merit, etc.), as well as as some of what we would consider the excesses prevalent in some Catholic piety and prayers (a lot of it, admittedly, cultural).

I think Lutherans and Anglicans will be somewhat sympathetic, as you say. Evangelicals…? Probably not.

By the way, I’m not aware of any instruction that we (Catholics) must ask the saints for intercession, but that obviously doesn’t preclude such a practice.

I do agree with you on your last point – veneration can flirt with superstition; still, I’m confused as to why more saints on earth don’t ask the saints in heaven to intercede.

Evangelicals would, generally, consider it idolatrous, of course. This is especially true in the Reformed sects. As far as I am aware, this was never a charge made by the Lutheran reformers. It wasn’t even much of a debate, for that matter, between Luther and Rome. There is only one article devoted to it in the Augsburg Confession. When Luther addressed it negatively, he did so mostly from the perspective of what he perceived as abuses (and many would be considered such by the magisterium today, too).

By the way, I’m not aware of any instruction that we (Catholics) must ask the saints for intercession, but that obviously doesn’t preclude such a practice.

As I understand it. Though you do have to do it when you say the Confiteor at Mass :slight_smile:

I do agree with you on your last point – veneration can flirt with superstition; still, I’m confused as to why more saints on earth don’t ask the saints in heaven to intercede.

I think it would be commendable, from my own perspective, to say to God “Please accept the prayers of X, Y, Z, who is in heaven…” But if a Catholic wants to ask a saint to intercede for him, we’d be to silly to quibble.

Because Evangelicals consider it to be idolatrous. They consider prayer a form of worship so if you pray to a deceased saint you are worshiping that saint. And then Evangelicals usually consider the intercession of saint as a form of ‘praying to dead people’ since they don’t have the same view of the communion of saints as Catholics do.

Curious – isn’t it still commendable to say “Mary, mother of God, please pray for us”?

Perhaps. I would just question whether, in fact, she is able to hear and respond.

She is more alive than are we. And she shares in the very life of the Trinity, as we will. Why in the world would she not be able to hear and respond? I don’t know how you feel about Marian apparitions but she has heard, responded and interacted in people’s lives for 2000 years.

Lutherans most definitely honor the saints especially the Mother of God. Our churches are named after the saints and we celebrate holy days devoted to the saints. Naturally, the most blessed Virgin Mary holds particularly high esteem; her name is mentioned each Sunday in the Creed and in the Eucharistic prayer. Luther stated that Our Lady comes directly after the Holy Trinity and we view her as the “pure and holy Virgin”; even her immaculate conception and assumption into heaven.

'Holy Mary, Mother of God pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death"

To me is it as simple as listening to Jesus own words…

Mark 12:26 …‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He is God not of the dead, but of the living; you are quite wrong.

Revelations 8:3 Another angel with a golden censer came and stood at the altar; he was given a great quantity of incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar that is before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel.

There are people that say we are all saints, well what about when we get to heaven? Those saints have to be included.

Those two verses brought light to me. Jesus own words He is the God of the living, and prayers of the saints has to include those in heaven. For those who want it spelled out I say we believe in the Trinity but the bible never spelled out the word Trinity either.

Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of God Pray for us! :thumbsup:

Where in the bible does it say Mary lost her hearing?


No where. I don’t base my own piety and practice on what the Scriptures don’t say, though.

It was sorta tongue-in-cheek – but seriously, why would Mary not be able to hear?

We don’t know because the Bible is not clear on this subject. As Lutherans, we, however, can venerate saints, especially Mary and the holy Apostles since they had direct contact with God.

She very well might. I just wouldn’t make speculation into an article of faith.

At the same time, since the Scriptures don’t forbid invoking the saints, I would equally argue against those Protestants who contend that Catholics sin when asking for their intercession.

Respectfully, it seems pretty clear to me. Otherwise the “communion of saints” idea makes absolutely zero sense. There is no communion without being cognizant of one another’s presence.

Additionally, several verses would be quite puzzling if saints in heaven were completely deaf, dumb, and blind:

Hebrews 12:1 – the “cloud of witnesses” (wouldn’t make sense if the witnesses that Paul speaks of – martyrs – couldn’t actually see or hear anything)

Revelation 6:9-10 – martyrs in heaven are getting anxious as they witness the martyrdom of saints on earth (wouldn’t make sense if they were unaware of what was happening on earth)

Luke 16:20-31 – Jesus’s story about Lazarus and the rich man illustrates that “dead” people (in Hades) were cognizant of those living on earth

No need to speculate – see my response to EC.

The way I see it, even if Mary were unaware of my prayers, her Son knows I’m calling. When I receive the Eucharist, I mentally wave at my departed loved ones knowing they are part of this great Communion through Christ.

They are alive, not dead so I pretty much figure they are awake, aware and still interested in God’s work on earth.

As a Lutheran, this is my personal piety and devotional practices - neither commanded nor outright forbidden.

Berthold von Schenk was the pastor of the parish school [LCMS] I attended as a young child. Fr von Schenk wrote the wonderful book, ‘The Presence’ where he urged Christians to come to Mass to be close to your beloved deceased relatives/ friends. Von Schenk explained that a cemetery could not provide closeness to the dead but when we take holy Communion we enter into the heavenly hosts where the saints come down to earth to be with us in Christ.