Category Archives: Liturgy

Signs from God: Science Tests Faith

Science tests faith: Well known investigative reporter Michael Willesee rediscovers his faith in his 50s, through his personal experience and live reporting of miracles within the Catholic Church. In 1998 he made a report entitled Signs From God on the appearance of stigmata displayed by a woman, Katya Revas, in Bolivia among other miracles. Scientists put these miracles to the test live on TV hosted by the Fox Broadcasting Company.

See the full playlist for ‘Signs from God: Science Tests Faith’.

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Role of the Laity in the Church

There is a distinct confusion in the Church today as to the role of the laity. In an attempt to bring about “active participation” in the liturgy Vatican II supposedly called for (the original Latin actually reads “actualparticipation.” ), the Church has become navel-gazing in its mode of operation, forgetting to heed the words of Our Lord to “[g]o into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” (Mark 16:15), not to mention the urgency attached to it: “[w]hoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16) Here are some some Vatican II quotes on the proper role of the laity, first from Apostolicam Actuositatem (Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity):

Chapter 1. The Vocation of the Laity to the Apostolate.
2. The Church was founded for the purpose of spreading the kingdom of Christ… to enable all men to share in His saving redemption… All activity of the Mystical Body directed to the attainment of this goal is called the apostolate… [The laity] exercise the apostolate in fact by their activity directed to the evangelization and sanctification of men and to the penetrating and perfecting of the temporal order through the spirit of the Gospel.

Now from the principle document of the Council, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium:

10. “…[common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood] differ from one another in essence and not only in degree…”

31. “What specifically characterizes the laity is their secular nature. …They are called there by God that by exercising their proper function and led by the spirit of the Gospel they may work for the sanctification of the world from within as a leaven.”

32. “By divine institution Holy Church is ordered and governed with a wonderful diversity. “For just as in one body we have many members, yet all the members have not the same function, so we, the many, are one body in Christ, but severally members one of another. …yet all share a true equality with regard to the dignity and to the activity common to all the faithful for the building up of the Body of Christ.”

33. “Upon all the laity, therefore, rests the noble duty of working to extend the divine plan of salvation to all men of each epoch and in every land.”

“Pro Multis” – “For Many” or “For All”?

The new English translation of the Missale Romanum, the Roman Missal, from the original latin text is already in use here in New Zealand. In my opinion, it is a vast improvement over the hastily and inadequately done translation in the years following the Second Vatican Council. One of the points of contention here is regarding the words of consecration for the precious blood, which, in the new translation, reads as follows: “For this is the Chalice of my Blood, the Blood of the new and eternal Covenant which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.” It is the word “many”, which has been changed from “all”, that is being disputed by “many” in the liberal and dissenting camp.

An author from the notorious America magazine has written:

The Latin word, multis, is, itself, perhaps, a mistranslation of the original Greek word, Pollown,which refers to ‘the many’ ( an expression already found in Isaiah) to indicate a substantially large, indeed capacious, number, equivalently all.

If one looks at the text with its Greek lexicon (click on the word “many” or “pollwn”), however, we see that the definitions are “many, much, large”. With regards the author’s appeal to the writings of Pope Benedict (God is Near Us: The Eucharist the Heart of Life), the Pope states in the same book in p.37:

I leave open the question of whether it was sensible to choose the translation “for all” here and, thus, to confuse translation with interpretation, at a point at which the process of interpretation remains in any case indispensable.

The footnote for this states,

The fact that in Hebrew the expression “many” would mean the same thing as “all” is not relevant to the question under consideration inasmuch as it is a question of translating, not a Hebrew text here, but a Latin text

Fr. Z’s blog on “Slavishly accurate liturgical translations” provides an explanation and history of its universal use behind the translation:

Look at it this way: if the Pope or a new Council chose to explain a new emphasis using a document of sufficient weight and authority, and if the Holy See then changed the Latin of the Missale Romanum to say “pro vobis et pro universis”, then there would be a linguistic justification for saying “for all” as an accurate translation of the Missale Romanum.

But the Church cannot change the Latin from pro multis to pro universis.

That would explicitly contradict the Church’s teaching as expressed in Latin by the Council of Trent (cf. Catechism of the Council of Trent, Part II, 4).

Such a change would contradict doctrine and not simply change emphasis about an aspect of that doctrine. Clear English must reflect the clarity of the Latin.

Many arguments have been forwarded to justify the choice to translate pro multis as “for all”.

In Latin pro multis means “for many”. All the Latin rites, historical or modern, have pro multis and not pro omnibus or pro universis.

The English translations of the Eastern Catholic Rites say “for many”.

Our patristic sources, such as the writings of the 4th c. Doctor of the Church St. Ambrose of Milan, when describing the words of consecration in the Eucharistic liturgy, has pro multis and not pro omnibus, etc. The liturgical formulas were from Scripture. The 4th c. Doctor of the Church St. Jerome, who translated from Greek and Hebrew texts into Latin giving us a Bible translation called the Vulgata, chose to use pro multis when translating the Greek tò peri pollôn (genitive plural of polus) in describing Jesus’ words at the Last Supper.

In Greek polus means “many” or “much” or even “most” as in the majority: it does not mean “all”. In the ancient Church, no one said “for all” instead of “for many”. In the Greek Gospel accounts of the Last Supper, Jesus uses a form polus “many”. The liturgical rites of the East retained a form of polus. The rites of the Latin West have ever used pro multis.

He also clarifies, in agreement with Pope Benedict, that the claim of the original Greek meaning being “equivalently all” is based not on the Greek but on a guess as to the possible original words:

The Lutheran Scripture scholar Joachim Jeremias, whose philological fan dance formed the basis for the claims that words in Greek meant something they have never meant in the history of Greek because of his guess about what Jesus may have said in Aramaic, said in the Scripture dictionary article on this matter that he was trying to avoid an interpretation he considered offensive. He tailored his article according to his predetermined idea.

“This is the question whether the broad interpretation of polloí corresponds to the original sense of Mk. 10:45; 14:24 or whether we have here a secondary and more comprehensive understanding designed to avoid the offence of a restriction of the scope of the atoning work of Jesus to ‘many’” (pp. 543-44).

The foundation for our present translation was the Lutheran Jeremias’ rereading of Scripture so as to avoid the offense in Catholic doctrine.

Is it “restricting the scope”, as Jeremias claims? I wouldn’t think so: God, of couse, wills for all to be saved, but, given free will, its fruition is not necessarily manifested universally. On this point, Fr. Z quotes the Catechism of Trent to further clarify the matter:

But when He added pro multis He wanted that there be understood the rest of those chosen (electos) from the Jews or from the gentiles. Rightly therefore did it happen that for all (pro universis) were not said, since at this point the discourse was only about the fruits of the Passion which bears the fruit of salvation only for the elect (delectis).

Thus, it can be seen linguistically, historically, and doctrinally, that “for many” is the more appropriate translation.

Liturgical Abuse & Sexual Abuse

One of the constant issues faced by an orthodox Catholic who is faithful to the magisterium (teaching authority of the Church) is that of liturgical abuses. I avoid going to the local parish, due to the abuses that take place there, including consecration of the precious blood in a decanter (which is then poured out onto the chalices like some common drink).

As noted by the present Pope – then Cardinal Ratzinger – the problem underlying such priestly abuses, and the accompanying lack of stern judgement by the bishops, is the over-emphasis of subsidiarity (the horizontal dimension) and in the disrespect for principles and authoritative jurisdiction (the vertical dimension). In such a case, a Catholic should be aware that the same mindset that accommodates liturgical abuse is the one that accommodated sexual abuse:

Ratzinger believed subsidiarity had allowed too much local interpretation, and failed to serve the interests of objective justice, both in allowing for due process and the right of defense for those accused, and in requiring just penalties for those found guilty.
…Until Ratzinger began to introduce reforms, Bishop Arrieta wrote, the norms of Canon Law were applied in local chanceries with “the constant fluidity that characterized the normative framework of the postconciliar period.”
…In a radio interview, Archbishop Rembert Weakland, the active homosexual poster-boy of the liberal “progressive” wing of the American Catholic Church, accused the Vatican and Ratzinger of having ignored the case until Murphy was too old to be tried.
After the secular media had taken up Weakland’s accusation against Ratzinger, however, it was revealed that Murphy’s victims had actually started complaining to authorities, including the Church, in the 1950s, but Weakland had waited until 1996 to inform the competent authorities in Rome.

The problem is traced back to ‘horizontalism’, and the accompanying over-emphasis of ‘local interpretation’ (over accountability to one’s superiors) and ‘constant fluidity’ (over proper exercise of principled jurisdiction). The fault, then, is due not to the proper magisterium of the Church, but to such abuse of subsidiary principles by the bishops:

But wasn’t Ratzinger in charge while all this was going on? Didn’t it happen on his watch? No. From 1981 to 2001 he was in charge of a department that dealt with defrocking, but not with suspensions and penalties for paedophile priests, which were the responsibility of local bishops. A number of bishops failed to suspend the abusive priests, some of whom continued to abuse. That is the scandal. It has been exposed and dealt with, and a number of bishops have, as a result, resigned. More important, guidelines are now in place to prevent it ever happening again.

The present Pope had consistently acted in accord with proper jurisdiction and authority, and worked to restore balance where there was inordinate emphasis on such subsidiarity, by reemphasizing the authority of the Holy See on these matters:

in the past 20 years, no one has done more to address the problem, to root out the corruption, than Pope Benedict XVI.

  • It was then-Cardinal Ratzinger who recognized that individual bishops (and other Vatican officials) were not taking the abuse problem seriously enough, and called for a new policy putting the Vatican in charge of discipline for priests accused of abuse.
  • It was Cardinal Ratzinger who pressed for tough investigations of a powerful Austrian cardinal accused of abuse, and for dismissal of an abuser who had founded one of the most influential religious orders in the Church.
  • It was Cardinal Ratzinger who spoke passionately about the urgent need to purge the Church, to remove the “filth” from the priestly ranks.
  • It was Pope Ratzinger who told Irish bishops that they would be held accountable for their failures to correct the abuse problem.

In the local lack of jurisdiction and ‘tolerant’ modus operandi that accepts priestly abuse but disregards the true good and the rights of the faithful (RS. 18), there is a natural link between liturgical and sexual abuse, and this is recognized by a Bishop, formerly a priest in one of the most orthodox dioceses in America; Lincoln, Nebraska:

…Bishop Vasa said he connected the scandal of clerical child abuse with the widespread legitimisation of dissent from Catholic teaching: “I have become increasing convinced that there may be another much more subtle form of episcopal negligence which also has the potential to harm children, not only emotionally and physically, but primarily spiritually.” This could occur when “those commissioned by the Church to be witnesses to and examples for them give witness to values or beliefs incompatible with the authentic teachings of the Church.”

It is evident in dissenters such as Charles Curran, who actively promote sexual deviancy, including homosexuality (which constituted majority of the abuses):

…”clashes with church authorities finally culminated in a decision by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by then-Cardinal Josef Ratzinger [now Pope Benedict XVI], that Curran was neither suitable nor eligible to be a professor of Catholic theology.”[2] The areas of dispute included publishing articles that debated theological and ethical views regarding divorce, “artificial contraception”, “masturbation, pre-marital intercourse and homosexual acts.“[3]

If such thinking is what underlies ‘local interpretation’ and ‘constant fluidity’, which often allows for tolerance of dissent and disregard for the rights of the faithful, the abuse cases would be the logical consequence and follow-through of such dissident thinking. If sexual abuse was to be stumped out in the Church, the same underlying mindset present in liturgical abuse must also be eliminated.

Soul of the Apostolate – Prologue

Taken from the Prologue from Soul of the Apostolate by Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard, O.C.S.O.


The Soul of the Apostolate

Prologue

EX QUO OMNIA,

PER QUEM OMNIA,

IN QUO OMNIA[1]

O God, infinitely good and great, wonderful indeed are the truths that faith lays open to us, concerning the life which Thou leadest within Thyself: and these truths dazzle us.

Father all holy, Thou dost contemplate Thyself forever in the Word, Thy perfect image — Thy Word exults in rapt joy at Thy beauty — and, Father and Son, from Your joint ecstasy, leaps forth the strong flame of love, the Holy Spirit.

You alone, O adorable Trinity, are the interior life, perfect, superabundant, and infinite.

Goodness unlimited, You desire to spread this, Your own inner life, everywhere, outside Yourself. You speak: and Your works spring forth out of nothingness, to declare Your perfections and to sing Your glory.

Between You and the dust quickened by Your breath, there is a deep abyss: and this, Your Holy Spirit wishes to bridge. Thus He will find a way of satisfying His immense need to love, to give Himself.

And therefore He calls forth, from Your bosom, the decree that we become divine. Wonder of wonders! This clay, fashioned by Your hands, will have the power to be deified, and share in Your eternal happiness..

Your Word offers Himself for the fulfillment of this work.

And He is made flesh, that we may become gods.[2]

And yet, O Word, Thou hast not left the bosom of Thy Father. It is there that Thy essential life subsists, and it is from this source that the marvels of Thy apostolate are to flow.

O Jesus, Emmanuel, Thou dost hand over to Thy apostles Thy Gospel, Thy Cross, Thy Eucharist, and givest them the mission to go forth and beget for Thy Father, sons of adoption.

And then Thou dost return, ascending, to Thy Father.

Thine, henceforth, O Holy Spirit, is the care of sanctifying and directing the Mystical Body of the God-man.[3]

Thou deignest to take unto Thyself fellow-workers, in Thy function of bringing, from the Head, divine life into the members.

Burning with Pentecostal fires, they will go forth to sow broadcast in the minds of all, the word that enlightens, and in all hearts the grace that enkindles. Thus will they impart to men that divine life of which Thou art the fullness.

✸               ✸

O Divine Fire, stir up in all those who have part in Thy apostolate, the flames that transformed those fortunate retreatments in the Upper Room. Then they will be no longer mere preachers of dogma or moral theology, but men living to transfuse the Blood of God into the souls of men.

Spirit of Light, imprint upon their minds, in characters that can never be erased, this truth: that their apostolate will be successful only in the measure that they themselves live that supernatural inner life of which Thou art the sovereign PRINCIPLE and Jesus Christ the SOURCE.

O infinite Charity, make their wills burn with thirst for the interior life. Penetrate and flood their hearts with Thy sweetness and strength, and show them that, even here on this earth, there is no real happiness except in this life of imitation and sharing in Thine own life and in that of the Heart of Jesus in the bosom of the Father of all mercy and all kindness.

✸               ✸

O Mary Immaculate, Queen of apostles, deign to bless these simple pages. Grant that all who read them may really understand that, if it please God to use their activity as an ordinary instrument of His Providence, in pouring out His heavenly riches upon the souls of men, this activity, if it is to produce any results, will have to participate, somehow, in the nature of the Divine Act as Thou didst behold it in the bosom of God when He, to Whom we owe the power of calling thee our Mother, became incarnate in the virginal womb.


[1] Liturgy. Fifth antiphon of Matins for the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity – quoted from 1 Cor 8:6.

[2] Factus est homo ut homo fieret dues (St. Augustine, Serm. 2 de Nativ.).

[3] Deus, cujus Spiritu totum corpus sanctificatur et regitur. Liturgy.

Obtaining Graces

The grace one obtains in life, and therefore sanctity, depends upon participation in Christ, for He is the God-man, the only mediator to the Father. For this reason, Jesus tells us, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). At the same time, however, this implies effort on our part, to freely respond to Him in the means of grace He gives us, especially in the sacraments. This can only take place in and through dying to ourselves:

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (Romans 6:3-5)

Indeed, this is the condition of Christian discipleship:

“If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:23-25)

Accordingly, one obtains new and everlasting life in Christ – by becoming sons in the Son:

“So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh– for if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship.” (Romans 8:12-15)

In practical terms, Pope Pius XII outlines for us in his encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi (On the Mystical Body of Christ – ie., those of us Baptised into Christ) what these imply in our lives:

For although our Savior’s cruel passion and death merited for His Church an infinite treasure of graces, God’s inscrutable providence has decreed that these graces should not be granted to us all at once; but their greater or lesser abundance will depend in no small part on our own good works, which draw down on the souls of men a rain of heavenly gifts freely bestowed by God. These heavenly gifts will surely flow more abundantly if we not only pray fervently to God, especially by participating every day if possible in the Eucharistic Sacrifice; if we not only try to relieve the distress of the needy and of the sick by works of Christian charity, but if we also set our hearts on the good things of eternity rather than on the passing things of this world; if we restrain this mortal body by voluntary mortification, denying it what is forbidden, and by forcing it to do what is hard and distasteful; and finally, if we humbly accept as from God’s hands the burdens and sorrows of this present life. Thus, according to the Apostle, “we shall fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ in our flesh for His Body, which is the Church.”

Saintly Intercession

[Here is the first of the two posts in a Being Frank thread. It clarifies the concept of asking the Saints in heaven to intercede, which is a prerequisite for the second part; understanding the intercession we receive from our mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary]

< Saintly Intercession • The Blessed Virgin Mary >

I think the question of intercession of angels and Saints in heaven necessarily precedes the understanding of Mary’s role. Here are some Scriptural basis for this practice help our separated brethren understand this Catholic and Orthodox (and some Anglican, I understand?) practice, since the Holy Writ is a sure common ground between all Christians.

The Protestant understanding seems to be that Saints in heaven cannot be called to intercede, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Timothy 2:5). This one needs to be read in context, however, because it is Christ Himself who calls us into communion in Him, with all that this implies.

The preceding verses in the very same chapter call for intercession from the Church and, further, specifically endorses it in its goodness and acceptability in God’s sight. So the principle of sole mediatorship does not exclude human intercessors: 

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, the testimony to which was borne at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. (I Timothy 2:1–7)

This is the case because saints are the Body of Christ – we participate in Christ’s mediatorship:

and he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:22–23)

The Church becomes one with Christ through spiritual marriage: 

I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to Christ to present you as a pure bride to her one husband. (II Corinthians 11:2)

Thus, Christ and the Church are one flesh, as husband and wife are: 

So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder. (Matthew 19:6)

Christ is our forerunner on our behalf, and is our eternal high priest in heaven: 

where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest for ever after the order of Melchiz’edek. (Hebrews 6:20)

The Church is also in heaven, since death cannot separate us from Christ or His Body:

For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38–39)

Hense, the Saints in heaven are, though without body until the resurrection, alive in Christ:

And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God said to him, `I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living (Mark 12:26–27)

For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40)

I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony to Jesus and for the word of God (Revelation of John 20:4)

Christ intercedes for us, since intercession is a priestly ministry: 

Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us (Romans 8:34)

Thus, the Church on earth and in heaven share in this intercessory ministry in our royal priesthood through her belonging in the eternal priesthood of Christ – our mediatorship through Christ’s sole mediatorship, in His Body:

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (I Peter 2:9)

I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men (I Timothy 2:1–7)

Catholics call the heavenly Church “the Church Triumphant”, and the earthly Church “the Church Militant” – the one body consists of many parts, and one part cannot say to another, “I have no need of you” (which goes both ways – those in heaven need us out of perfected love, and those on earth need them for their closeness to Christ) or, indeed, “because you are dead, you do not belong to the body”. Those worthy of honour – those who have run the race (1 Corinthians 9:24) and are crowned in glory (James 1:12, II Timothy 4:8, 1 Peter 5:4, Revelation 2:10) – are given honour (as opposed to worship, which is due to God alone), so that the whole body may rejoice together: 

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free–and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the organs in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single organ, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those parts of the body which we think less honorable we invest with the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior part, that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

(I Corinthians 12:12–27)

We therefore honour them and follow their example, that we too may be holy and worthy of imitation: 

for our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit; so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedo’nia and in Acha’ia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedo’nia and Acha’ia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us what a welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God (I Thessalonians 1:5–9)

The communion of saints is powerful, since we are united through the one Body of Christ and the one Spirit of God:

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call (Ephesians 4:4)

Thus they lovingly bear our burdens through intercession, as we honour them in return:

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:10)

It is not a false and unholy communion through necromancy, which is forbidden by God (Deuteronomy 18:10-11) and thus also the Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2116), but true and holy communion through the Body of Christ and the spirit of God. Hence, the Church in heaven are aware of the Church on earth, in the one Body of Christ through the one Spirit:

[the passage speaks of those who have died in faith, mentioned in Hebrews 11]

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1)

because love is stronger than death: 

Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death… (Song of Solomon 8:6)

“O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?” (I Corinthians 15:55)

Thus, they are aware of our requests – our need for their assistance – so that this call for those in the Body of Christ still applies: 

Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21)

Just as they were appealed to on earth: 

I appeal to you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, (Romans 15:30)

Brethren, pray for us. (I Thessalonians 5:25)

To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his call, and may fulfil every good resolve and work of faith by his power (II Thessalonians 1:11)

The Church in heaven are the saints perfected in holiness (here lies evidence for purgation which occurs to the saints after death and before heaven), and so their prayers have great powers: 

nothing unclean shall enter [heaven] (Revelation of John 21:27)

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect (Hebrews 12:22–23)

The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects. (James 5:16)

We also see this in John’s vision of heaven, where the angels and the 24 elders (possibly representative of the people of the Old and the New covenant – 12 sons/tribes of Jacob and 12 Apostles/new covenant saints) – who are like the angels – offer up saints’ prayers (presumably from the earthly Church) mixed with the incense, just as priests symbolically do today during liturgy. We see that this assists them to rise up to God:

And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne; and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God. (Revelation of John 8:3–4)

For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. (Mark 12:25)

And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints (Revelation of John 5:8)

 

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