Why do we do that? Catholic Life Explained

Mary and the Saints

Question: Why do Catholics pray to Mary and the saints?

Answer: One of the statements of faith we make when we pray the Nicene Creed and the Apostles Creed is that we believe in “the communion of saints.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that this communion (another word for community) includes all the faithful on earth, the souls in Purgatory, and the blessed women, men, and children who are in heaven. This teaching is grounded in our belief that, through Baptism, we are united with Christ and to one another with bonds that are stronger even than death.

And so from the time of the early Church, Christians have turned to other believers for prayers and assistance, including those who have gone before us, confident that God hears the prayers of all of His children. While we ask the saints (and one another) for prayers and support, we remember that the saints join us in prayer. But it is God who blesses and sanctifies us.

When we think of Mary and the saints in heaven, we have to remember that we can turn to them for intercession and assistance because they were faulted, limited human beings, just like us. This means that they are able to understand our struggles, doubts, fears, joys, and hopes. But as we learn their stories, we can also begin to recognize that they stand out in the history of the Church because they persevered in their commitment to follow Christ. Whether they were ordained, vowed religious, martyrs, husbands, wives, or even children, they show us that holiness is possible. We can not only follow their example but also benefit from their prayerful support.

Our devotion to the saints and gratitude for their witness, prayers, and protection should also be an inspiration for us, especially when we become aware of the needs of others or when others ask us to pray for them. We are called to share the blessings we receive. This is also part of our own journey of growing in holiness.