Recently I heard a very interesting take on the role of Saints in the Catholic Faith.
I was asked if Saints were like mini-gods having specific powers and attributes.
"O you lost something go pray to St. Anthony of Padua."
"Before your game make sure to pray too St. Sebastian."
"If you're a doctor you should pray to St. Luke."
From just hearing Catholic's talk about this relationship we have with Saints it makes sense that others looking on could interpret some form of idolatry being associated with Saints.
Hopefully, we can cut through that confusion a little bit today. Saints are not mini-gods. And they aren't worshipped. Let me explain.
The Catholic Church see's Saint's as those who have fought the good fight, who have finished the race, and have kept the Faith. We recognize these people who were and are examples of how to live for Christ. These people who live in union with the will of God are reward life with Him. So the term saint is a catch all for all persons in Heaven (doesn't include God or the angels).
But if it this wasn't complicated enough there are actually two types of saints. There's the big "S" Saint and the little "s" saint. As we said all souls in Heaven are saints. So what is this mysterious big "S" Saint thing about?
The title Saint is given to an individual following their canonization. This is the final step in a process administered by the Catholic Church, that states that this person is for sure in Heaven. They come to this conclusion following a process that concludes with an understanding that this person lived an upright life serving the Lord to the best of their ability and that there are two miracles that can be attributed to them following their passing.
You might be thinking, "That's cool and all, but like what does it have to do with people praying to Saints and not to God?"
Have you ever had a friend pray for you? Maybe you were going through a rough spot or had a big test or something like that? It is much the same with saints. When Catholics "pray to saints" we are more so asking them to pray for us.
In the common prayer of the Hail Mary we pray "Holy Mary mother of God pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen." We are not asking Mary to save us, but rather for her to pray to God on our behalf.
Some may be wondering "why on earth would you do that when you can just talk to God directly?"
Prayer is so incredibly powerful and so important that we ask others to join their voice to our own ask we raise our petitions to the Father. And so when we ask for the intercession of saints we call upon those who are united with the Lord in Heaven which means that they are in communion with Him for all eternity. So when we ask for their prayers they are able to do so without ceasing as they are constantly in communication with the Father.
Saints do not draw God to us. They do not change him or make him more accessible to us in a way that detracts from His glory. Rather, they draw us to God aiding us in this journey to be with God giving us guidance and strength to run to the father. The Saints want nothing more than for us to join them in Heaven and are doing everything they can to help us get there.