Q. I’m wondering what you have to say about Catholics “praying” to Mary or other saints. I understand that the first commandment tells us to have no other gods, but Catholics seem to believe they’re not praying to Mary or the other saints, but somehow praying to God through them.
This also brings another question to mind of praying for someone after they’ve died. Is there anyplace in the bible that speaks to this?
Thanks so much for your thoughtful answer.
A. All during Old Testament times, the way to God was through the Priest. The people brought their prayers to the temple along with a sacrifice and the priests presented their prayers to God. When Jesus died the veil of separation in the Temple was torn apart, signifying that the people would no longer need an intercessor on Earth. They could now approach God directly (Ephes. 3:12)
In the New Testament, only Jesus (Rom 8:34) and the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:26) are named as intercessors for us. None others are authorized. The notion of praying to Mary or others is uniquely catholic and has no Biblical support.
The same is true about praying for the dead. It comes out of the Catholic tradition of purgatory, where according to them all believers go to pay for their remaining sins upon death. It’s believed that the prayers and good works of their living loved ones can shorten their stay there. This is another non-Biblical tradition of the Catholic Church.
The single over riding purpose of our lives is to decide whether to allow the Lord’s death to pay for our sins or not. We have to decide for ourselves, no one can do it for us, and we have to do it while we’re still alive. Failing to decide is the same as rejecting it. At the instant of death, we’re either saved or not based on that one decision, and no effort by us or anyone we’ve left behind can alter it thereafter. Man was destined to die once and after that to face judgment. (Hebr. 9:27)