The Catholic Defender: Halloween

Posted by John Benko - October 31st, 2012

Trick or treat or not to trick or treat? That is the question!

There are many people who feel that Halloween is a demonic celebration, others believe that today Halloween is more of a secular holiday loaded with harmless fun for the family.

Some church groups use the occasion to have celebrations of harvest, while others use the occasion to conduct Judgement House which is a christian example of a haunted house.

Still,some churches put on some of the best “Haunted Houses” in the town.

Originally, Halloween was part of a Celtic festival based from a Celtic celebration known as “Sanhain”, meaning “for the harvest”. This was a period after summer and before winter.

The Pagan belief that at this time, the barrier between the living and the dead narrowed and opened.

This opening peaked on October 31, the spirits of the dead would come back and cause mischief destroying crops or haunting family members.

These superstitions may of had a basis from droughts or terrible hunger due to bad harvest seasons.

In time and space, the Catholic Church would branch out throughout the world. Many customs and traditions of the people were transformed to the gospel message as Christ light delivered them from darkness.

The Catholic Church institutes “All Saints Day” on November 1 to honor all the martyrs and Saints.

Because of the Christians veneration and honor of the Saints, October 31 became known as “All Hallows Eve”.

The Catholic Church continues to seek to promote Christ to a Pagan world where superstition and legends give way to the light of truth.

Christ is the Light of the World. By the 12th century, this celebration, “All Saints Day”, became very popular throughout Europe.

The intent of this major Feast Day, was to counter the Pagan practices of the Celtics and the “worship of the spirits”.

By the 16th century, with the advent of the Protestant Revolution, Halloween was attacked because of their opposition to the teaching on Purgatory.

In the 19th century, because of the Puritan influence, Halloween was viewed similarly like other Christian celebrations such as Christmas and Easter as Pagan.

Anti-Catholics particularly hold to this view. In America, Halloween was originally celebrated by Scottish and Irish immigrants that would host dinners and parties.

In the early going, because of the Protestant opposition in America, these celebrations were attacked by those who viewed these celebrations as evil.

Sometimes there were violence committed by the Protestants. Households would have their own celebrations where children would have games, pranks, and mischief.

By 1915, post cards began to feature hundreds of designs popularizing Halloween, the Dennison Manufacturing Company published the first Halloween catalog in 1909.

Soon afterward, Halloween began to emerge in America as a national Holiday. In our times, the practice of “Trick or Treat” is said to come from the old Pagan beliefs of offering gifts to the spirits so they would not harass the living or their crops.

English Christians began a custom on “All Souls Day”, November 2, where the faithful would take “soul” cakes and give them to the hungry, many suffering from starvation.

Out of gratitude, the poor would offer prayers for the family heritage of those offering the blessing of the cakes.

What a wonderful tradition to foster aid to the poor and to develop prayer for the poor souls of Purgatory. Just this past two weeks, I was helping my college club “sife” raise 2500 lbs of food for the hungry in our area. What a blessing it is to help those in need!

The tradition of dressing up in costumes seems to originate in England, it was based from a Pagan belief that the spirits would haunt and torment living family members.

The people began the tradition of dressing up in costumes to hide from these spirits. For the Christian, we recognize Christ judges our hearts and will not be fooled by masks.

From the Christian experience, there is no connection to the earlier Pagan practice. The Jack-o-Lantern, originally seen with a tulip, originates in the United States due to the influx of Irish Immigrants in the latter 1840′s.

The pumpkins became popular because of their size and availability.

The legend begins with a wager between “Stingy Jack” and the Devil. Through a trick, the Devil had no rights for Jack’s soul, but Jack had to wonder aimlessly in Purgatory until that day when the Lord returns to judge the living and the dead.

Until that time, Jack travels endlessly in darkness.

The Devil gives him a chunk of burning coal from hell to provide Jack light. On October 31, Jack joins the other spirits to torment mankind.

It seems that witchcraft originally becomes associated with Halloween sometime before 1900, witches for a long time have been viewed like other fictitious characters such as Dracula, warewolves, Frankenstein, the Mummy, and hundreds of other monsters.

I’m a bit more apprehensive towards witchcraft because of the rise of the Wiccan movement today.

Harry Potter and company seems to have aided in peoples facination with the Occult and witchcraft. Many dress up in all kinds of costumes from movie characters, games, even Saints. All Christians would certainly oppose anything that involves the Devil or evil.

I remember in the 1980′s as I paid close attention to one of my favorite bands, “Petra”, it took a while for Christians to accept Christian Rock.

Some thought that the music was evil and from the Devil. The Catholic Faith has always been about taking Christ to the world where they can see him!

Halloween, even though there might be a demonic reality to October 31st, this has nothing to do with the harmless fun people give to Halloween. (Editors note) My point I am making here is that in no way are the vast majority of American who participate in Halloween activities taking part in any Pagan, or Occultic rituals as some have proclaimed. The major concern continues to be that families go where it is safe to do so and follow the guidelines of their local establishments.

Because there are deranged individuals who prey upon the innocence, it is best to “trick or treat” in safe neighborhoods, church sponsored events, school lead events, even shopping malls that offer a safe environment for children.

Parents must be with their children at all times as they go house to house. Mom and Dad, as you plan to take your children out to have a good time, please give them the foundation of our holy Catholic Faith. If you do, you will be giving them a firm foundation.


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*BEST OF DTB #224* The Catholic Defender: True Religion

Posted by John Benko - October 28th, 2012

In the world of apologetics, it is easy to stay motivated responding to the attacks of the Anti-Catholics which is most important.
James 1:27 tells us, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world”.
Certainly this includes being unstained by false doctrines and false philosophy.
The acceptance of worldly humanistic values. We are to stay faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Faith.
St. James does recognize this importance, but he also sees importance to care for those who can not help themselves.

The orphans and widows represent the poor.
Jesus reminded Judas that the Church would always have the poor to support (John 12:8) but that he would not always be with us.
At least not in the normal presence, as Jesus is with us in and through his Catholic Church. Mother Theresa recognized Jesus in the poor she cared for so diligently.
Recently, I learned that there are hundreds of thousands of Senior Citizens who live without family in homes where they are left alone.
They no longer are part of their family structure as they become conveniently laid aside. Many of them barely get a picture of loved ones let alone a phone call or personal visit.

There are millions of children abused and neglected in the greatest country of the world.
There have been nearly 60,000,000 abortions in America since 1973. When we see people hurting, Jesus is reflected in their lives. The Lord’s word soon come to life, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me (Matthew 25:40).
The Catholic Church as an institution has done far more good to help the poor maintaining hospitals for the sick, orphanages for orphans, safe houses for runaways, soup kitchens for the hungry, and many other important causes in our day.

The pro-life cause is one of the most important battles of our time, the care of the Mothers, the helping the sinner who has lost their way because they were caught stained by the world.
Jesus, through his Church cures the sick and restores the prodigals.
There is still much to be done. Catholics, let’s not become complacent and lose ground in the battle for souls. Get involved in your Parish, support your Priest and help out your Diocese.
Money is not always the most important thing, sometimes your time and effort goes along way.
Let’s not be caught looking through “Rose Colored Stain Glass Windows” and may we be found serving our Lord in the needs of serving his people.

*BEST OF DTB #223* Queen of Heaven debate show notes

Posted by John Benko - October 26th, 2012


These show notes coincide with this blogtalkradio debate

The show notes for this debate can be found at tinyurl.com/97tbsmb

Today’s debate is all about what worship is and what it is not.

Dictionary.com defines worship as follows;

reverent honor and homage paid to God or a sacred personage, or to any object regarded as sacred.

They define Sacred as;

 

devoted or dedicated to a deity or to some religious purpose; consecrated.

2.entitled to veneration or religious respect by association with divinity or divine things; holy.

In British English, the word ‘worship’ covers all definitions of honor, with a distiction between Latria- the honor due God alone and Dulia, that which is due created beings or things. In fact, the British refer to judges as ‘Your worship’.

In American English, this Dulia, or even Hyper-Dulia, is referred to as honor or veneration while Latria is referred to as Worship or Adoration.

 Yes, British English is used in the Catholic Encyclopedia and does say that Mary and Saints are due a level of worship but the same British English says the same about judges. Let’s not be silly here. The British do not consider their judges to be gods. In our discussion tonight, we are defining words like honor, veneration, worship and adoration as American Christians do. Honor and veneration can be due a person- such as a soldier, a place- such as Arlington Cemetery or a thing-such as the Flag, the Cross or a statue or icon. Worship, or Adoration, on the other hand is due only to the Holy Trinity- Father, Son and Holy Spirit and only to it is offered Worship by a Catholic.

Worship, as we define it in American English, starts when the honor given to a person exceeds that which would be appropriate for a created being or thing and the person or thing is recognized and honored, and sacrificed to, as a Divine person-a god or goddess-, rather than a created person or object. This worship cannot be offered by accident or without consent. Therefore, my opponents claim that Catholics worship Mary even if they are unaware of it is completely untenable.

The commandment of God says;

 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
“You shall have no other gods before Me.
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.

False Worship is about gods. That is, ascribing divinity to someone and submitting to their lordship, is the key and central part of worship. In Exodus 32, we read the sin of the golden calf.

And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

So, as you can see, the first element of worship is an assent to the object as divine. The person or thing has to be recognized as a god or goddess, with an assent of the will, to it holding to the attributes of god- omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, and eternal. This assent cannot be accidental, that is an impossibility.

This aspect of worship is never offered, in a Catholic church, to anyone or anything but God. However, an assent to Divinity is not the completion of worship. James admonishes us in his epistle;

You believe God is one? you do well. Even the demons believe this and they tremble.

The real difference between Protestants and Catholics is not that we worship Mary and they don’t. The real difference is that we worship God and they don’t. The only completegenuine, Christian worship of God- Father, Son and Holy Spirit- occurs in a Catholic church.

 When one examines Scripture judiciously, one sees God quite clearly, with intricate precision, articulate exactly what worship should look like. He also makes it quite clear that the principle elements of that worship are not to ever change. In the books of the law, Genesis to Deuteronomy,  the word ‘perpetual’ appears 40 times, the word ‘everlasting’ 19 times and the word covenant 114 times. Jesus, Himself said that He did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). In fact, the word fulfill or fulfilled appears more than 50 times in the 27 books of the New Testament.

Yes, Protestants do claim to assent to the Divinity of the Trinity and, yes, that is a first step towards worship. However, they fail to see the communal nature of genuine worship in contrast to the un-Biblical ‘Christ alone’, ‘Faith alone’, ‘Bible alone’ model of the reformation. Christ established a particular church with a particular authority and a particular liturgy centered around seven very particular sacraments. One Lord-One Faith-One Baptism (Ephesians 4:5)

Nowhere is that more clear than their failure to see that the sacrifice of the Mass is the conduit by which we are connected to Calvary.

The protestant concept of worship is one that is wholly alien to the Bible. From the book of Genesis to the book of Revelation, we see a worship involving a sacrifice, an altar, priests and a liturgy. The idea of a self anointed pastor-centered worship, devoid of an altar and sacrifice is completely absent from Scripture. Catholics understand clearly that Biblical worship is far more than the simple offering of honor, praise and prayer. Of course, we could do an entire debate on what worship really looks like and I will extend that invitation to my opponent now.

In 1 Corinthians 1, chapters 10 and 11, Paul tells us that the bread we eat and the cup we drink is a real participation in the body and blood of Our Lord and to do so unworthily brings judgement. In Hebrews, we are told that we go before an altar. In Revelation Chapter 5, we are told that God has made a Kingdom of Priests to reign on earth. 

Protestants do not understand the New Testament because they fail to understand the Old Testament Blueprint of the New Testament Church. When Jesus instituted the New Covenant in His blood, He did not abolish the ministerial Priesthood and the offering of the sacrifice. On the contrary, He perfected it. He took the imperfect typological and repetitious sacrifice and replaced it with one perfect sacrifice and he replaced that offering with a perfect and perpetual offering just as Malachi 1 prophesies. Jewish worship centered around the Passover. We see, in the Gospels, that the beginning of Jesus ministry coincides with the Passover and the end of His ministry and start of His Passion, likewise, coincides with the Passover. The Passover was not a meaningless gesture. It points to something. Jesus was not just to be the Passover sacrifice but the Passover meal, offered in perpetuity.

 While protestants accuse Catholics of elevating Mary to the level of worship, what is really at work is that protestants have lowered worship to the level of Mary by removing the sacrifice and removing the sense of us all being a part of the communion of saints. In fact, with respect to Mary, they actually accuse us of worshiping Mary as Divine even though we fully recognize her as human! Offering honor and praise and prayer is not worship, assenting to Divinity and offering the sacrifice is worship. Protestants have created a new, un-historical and un-Biblical definition of what worship is and, based on this novel view of worship, accuse Catholics of the worship of Mary. It is not that our Mary is too high, it is that their worship is not high enough.

Catholics do not recognize Mary as having any of the attributes of God. In fact, Catholics acknowledge that Mary should have absolutely no ability whatsoever if not for God acting through her. This makes Mary the same as any other human being who has ever lived.

The entire accusation of Mary-worship is a protestant invention, a feeble attempt to juxtapose Biblical objects of idolatrous worship onto the Catholic Mary. No where is this clearer than in the so-called Queen of Heaven canard.

Protestants often juxtapose the worship of Ishtar, which is being condemned in Jeremiah, with the rightful honor given to the Mother of Our Lord, Mary, who was born centuries later. Their evidence? The title ‘Queen of Heaven’. I will deal with this in depth, in my close.

For now, consider the following;

In Ezra Chapter 7, verse 12, King Artaxerxes of Persia is referred to as the ‘King of Kings’, in Ezekiel 26, the same title is given to Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Yet, we all know who the true ‘King of Kings’ is, don’t we? The impostor does not invalidate the real deal. The ‘Queen of Heaven’ condemned in Jeremiah 7 and 44 was a false goddess named Ishtar that has absolutely nothing to do with Mary, a human being, who fulfilled the Biblical role of the Queen Mother as seen in 1 Kings 15:13, 2 Kings 10:13, 2 Chronicles 15:16, Jeremiah 13:18, and Jeremiah 29:2.

In the Davidic kingdom, the Queen Mother was the mother of the King. In the case of Solomon, it was Bathsheba  Now, listen to this exchange from 1 Kings, Chapter 2;

12 Then sat Solomon upon the throne of David his father; and his kingdom was established greatly.  13 And Adonijah the son of Haggith came to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon. And she said, Comest thou peaceably?And he said, Peaceably.  14 He said moreover, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And she said, Say on.  15 And he said, Thou knowest that the kingdom was mine, and that all Israel set their faces on me,  that I should reign: howbeit the kingdom is turned about, and is become my brother’s: for it was his from the LORD. 16 And now I ask one petition of thee, deny me not. And she said unto him, Say on.  17 And he said, Speak, I pray thee, unto Solomon the king, (for he will not say thee nay,) that he give  me Abishag the Shunammite to wife.  18 And Bathsheba said, Well; I will speak for thee unto the king.  19 Bathsheba therefore went unto king Solomon, to speak unto him for Adonijah. And the king rose  up to meet her, and bowed himself unto her, and sat down on his throne, and caused a seat to be set for the king’s mother; and she sat on his right hand.  20 Then she said, I desire one small petition of thee; I pray thee, say me not nay. And the king said unto her,  Ask on, my mother: for I will not say thee nay. 

There are several things to note here.  Notice that the word ‘pray’ is used in reference to a petition. That is, after-all what a prayer is. It simply means to ask. Adonijah is not worshiping Bathsheba by offering a prayer of petition, neither is Bathsheba worshiping Solomon by doing the same. Simple prayer is not worship and anyone who claims it is cannot support that notion. The second thing is that Solomon bows to his mother. Again, bowing in honor, is not worship. Falling at one’s feet and prostrating oneself in adoration is not the same as kneeling or bowing out of respect. Third, Solomon seats her on a throne, at his right hand. This, again, is not worship, he is merely honoring her position in the court of the King, as the Queen Mother. Finally, the clincher. The passage opens by saying the following; 12 Then sat Solomon upon the throne of David his father;

In Luke chapter 1, the Angel Gabriel says exactly the same thing about Jesus;

31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne 
of his father David:  

The Jews of Jesus time, as soon as they recognized Jesus as the King of the Jews, would have recognized His mother as the Queen Mother. This is why we see the Mother of Jesus, shown in Revelation chapter 12 with a crown of stars and why the Angel Gabriel greets her with the royal salutation of Chaire or “Hail”. The same salutation by which Christ is greeted twice in the gospels.


What Protestants fail to see is that we are all co-mediators. ‘co’ means ‘with’. It does not mean equal. It does not even mean less. There is one mediator between God and man but we all COoperate with that plan of mediation. We bring Christ to the world, we bring the world to Christ. Nowhere is that more literally and profoundly true than with our blessed Mother. That is why Revelation 12:17 says that she is the mother of all the true believers. She is the Queen Mother and She is the Ark of the Covenant. Scriptures shows us this clearly in Revelation 11 and 12.

Mary is not Divine but She helps us understand God by Her unique relationship to the Holy trinity. Daughter of the Father, spouse of the Holy Spirit, Mother of the Son.

Here are some points that I think are likely to be raised during the course of this debate. The argument will be in BLUE with my Response in GOLD.

Argument: If Catholics do not worship Mary, why do they call her Theotokos- the Mother of God? Is this not putting her above God? 

Answer: Not at all. To call Mary the Mother of God is only to confirm what Scripture says about her.Elizabeth, in Luke 1 says what is it to me that the Mother of My Lord should come to me. ‘My Lord’ is translated from the Greek Kyrios which is equivalent to the Hebrew Adonai, a name used for God. To call Mary the Mother of God, is simply confirming the Biblical reality that is the Incarnation.
It is a simple logical syllogism. Jesus is God, Mary is His Mother, therefore, Mary is the Mother of God.

Argument: Catholics call Mary a co-redemtrix and co-mediatrix. The Bible clearly says that there is only one mediator between God and man. Are you not elevating Mary to the level of God?

Answer: You are comparing apples to oranges. A Redeemer and a co-redemptrix are two totally different things. Likewise, a co-mediatrix and a mediator between God and Man are not even close to the same thing.

The key word is ‘co’ which means ‘with’, not ‘equal’. In calling Mary a co-redemtrix and co-mediatrix, the Catholic church is simply affirming a fundamental reality- that Mary co-operated with the plan of redemption by bring Jesus to us.

Argument: Catholics claim that Mary has appeared all over the world. At Fatima, Catholics claim that Mary said: The soul which recommends itself to Me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall not perish. Isn’t this elevating Mary to a level of Savior?

Answer: First of all, no Catholic is bound to believing in private revelations. However, Jesus did say that there would be signs by which many would believe and the documented miraculous events at places like Lourdes and Fatima are undeniable. At the heart of Mary’s statement- properly context-ed, is one of the most fundamental divisions between Catholics and Protestants, the notion of intercessory prayer. Yet, Mary never claims to be a Savior, she claims to be an Advocate. In the Rosary are the Apostles Creed and the Our Father as well as the Hail Mary. Mary’s entire message at Fatima is one of prayer, fasting and penance and returning to her Son. Mary is offering her assistance in leading souls to her son. Her messages at these events always point to Jesus. True, one may reject these events as inauthentic if they so chose but to call them worship is quite a stretch. 

Argument: Doesn’t the Bible warn against believing signs and wonders?
Revelation 13:  11: Then I saw another beast which rose out of the earth; it had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon.

12: It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its
 inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed.
13: It works great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in the sight of men;

14: and by the signs which it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast, it deceives those who dwell on earth, bidding them make an image for the beast which was wounded by the sword and yet lived;

Answer: Signs and wonders are not at all what is being condemned here, unbelief and apostasy are what is being condemned.

Let’s take the quotes one by one. The quote in Matthew 16 did not mean Jesus didn’t perform any signs  in the Gospels, we know better than that. In fact, just 5 verses later, Jesus reminds the disciples of the miracle of the fish and loaves. Jesus did not condemn the signs themselves, he condemned the evil and adulterous pharisees who sought to put him to the test because of their lack of belief.

In 2 Corinthians, we are warned that Satan disguises himself as a being of light. There would be no need for him to do this if it were not for the fact that actual beings of light have appeared to people. 

It is the same with the proof text from Revelation 13 . When the anti-christ brings fire down from heaven, he is merely doing a cheap imitation of what Elijah did in 2 Kings.

It is nonsense to suggest that the Bible tells us to unilaterally reject all miracles. Both the Prophet Joel and Peter told us that in the last days young men would see visions and old men would dream dreams. The key is knowing how to discern.

1 John 4 
1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from Godbecausemany false prophets have gone out into the world2 By this you know the Spirit of God : every spirit thatconfesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God ; 3 and every spirit that does not confessJesus is not from God ; this is the spirit of the antichrist
It may well be noted that every approved apparition of Mary passes this Biblical test.

  1. The Bible shows us the Angel Gabriel communicating with Daniel the Prophet, Zechariah and Mary. Another Angel spoke to Joseph. Moses and Elijah conversed with Jesus on the mount of transfiguration and Abraham spoke to the rich man in hell. Jesus says that God is the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob, the God of the living and not of the dead. Finally, in the book of Revelation, chapters 5 and 8, we see both Angels and Saints receiving our prayers and offering them to God. Despite all of this compelling evidence to the contrary, why do protestants continue to insist that the Angels and Saints cannot hear our prayers?
  2. Who are the 24 elders in Revelation chapter 4 and why are they wearing Robes and golden crowns and sitting on thrones?
  3. The Woman who appears in Revelation 11:19-12:17 is shown as the Ark of the Covenant, the Mother of Jesus, a woman in heaven with a physical body, a Queen wearing a crown, the Woman who is the enemy of the dragon (Genesis 3:15), the woman who fled to the desert, and the mother of all true Christians. How can you seriously argue that anyone but Mary can fulfill all these characteristics?
  4. Jehovah Witnesses, Jews and Muslims all recognize the historical person of Jesus Christ but refuse to acknowledge Him as God. If I asked you if any of these groups worship Jesus, you would say no. Yet, I do not recognize Mary as Divine and you accuse me of worshipping her. Why the double standard?
Protestants like to point out two passages relating to the Queen of Heaven in the book of Jeremiah and desperately try to superimpose them on 21st century Catholicism. Here is one, from Jeremiah 44:

15 Then all the men that knew that their wives sacrificed to other gods: and all the women of whom there stood by a great multitude, and all the people of them that dwelt in the land of Egypt in Phatures, answered Jeremias, saying:   16 As for the word which thou hast spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken to thee:  17 But we will certainly do every word that shall proceed out of our own mouth, to sacrifice to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings to her, as we and our fathers have done, our kings, and our princes in the cities of Juda, and in the streets of Jerusalem: and we were filled with bread, and it was well with us, and we saw no evil.  

18 But since we left off to offer sacrifice to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings to her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword, and by famine.  19 And if we offer sacrifice to the queen of heaven, and pour out drink offerings to her: did we make cakes to worship her, to pour out drink offerings to her, without our husbands?  

The assertion that Catholics worship Mary is completely baseless and without merit. Actually, it is the human Mary that Scripture calls blessed among all women, blessed among all generations, blessed because Jesus lived in her womb and nursed at her breast, blessed because She believed, blessed because She heard the word of God and obeyed. All of those accolades are right there in Luke’s Gospel.
Mary, whose soul magnifies the Lord, and whose spirit rejoices in God, Her Savior, is the penultimate example to all of us. She who is addressed by Gabriel with the salutation Kecharitomene- full of grace.
We Catholics find ourselves astounded when we are accused of uttering the prayer that is taken virtually verbatim from Luke 1 and 2.

Hail Mary, Full of Grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Finally, we simply ask a favor of the Queen Mother.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death.
What kind of a goddess would we ask to pray for us? For protestants to accept the notion that God has all the Angels and Saints locked away in a broom closet betrays a staggering lack of faith. It also proves they don’t know scripture. Hebrews 12:1 talks about the great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. God commands us to pray with each other and for each other. That that extends past earth is clear and that makes our Awesome God just that much bigger, not smaller.
Often used as a gotcha claim that Catholics worship Mary, anti-catholics sometimes quote the catholic Encyclopedia using the British use of the word worship. Even when they do so, the full context proves them wrong. Also, isn’t it ironic that proponents of the King James Bible would try and impose the Saxon dialect on us?

The word worship (Saxon weorthscipe, “honour”; from worth, meaning “value”, “dignity”, “price”, and the termination, shipLatin cultus) in its most general sense is homage paid to aperson or a thing. In this sense we may speak of hero-worship, worship of the emperor, of demons, of the angels, even of relics, and especially of the Cross. This article will deal with Christian worship according to the following definition: homage paid to God, to Jesus Christ, to His saints, to the beings or even to the objects which have a special relation to God.
There are several degrees of this worship:
  • if it is addressed directly to God, it is superior, absolute, supreme worship, or worship of adoration, or, according to the consecrated theological term, a worship of latria. This sovereign worship is due to God alone; addressed to a creature it would become idolatry.
  • When worship is addressed only indirectly to God, that is, when its object is the veneration of martyrs, of angels, or of saints, it is a subordinate worship dependent on the first, and relative, in so far as it honours the creatures of Godfor their peculiar relations with Him; it is designated by theologians as the worship of dulia, a term denoting servitude, and implying, when used to signify our worship of distinguished servants of God, that their service to Him is their title to our veneration (cf. Chollet, loc. cit., col. 2407, and BouquillonTractatus de virtute religionis, I, Bruges, 1880, 22 sq.).
  • As the Blessed Virgin has a separate and absolutely supereminent rank among the saints, the worship paid to her is called hyperdulia (for the meaning and history of these terms see Suicer, Thesaurus ecclesiasticus, 1728).


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*BEST OF DTB #222* Praying and Saints and the Body of Christ: A Catholic Take

Posted by John Benko - October 11th, 2012

“Saints and the Garden of God” Podcast
Listen to internet radio with Deeper Truth on Blog Talk Radio



What’s With All the Saints?
And the Nature of Prayer

Originally Posted on 9-18-2011

“I’m having trouble with praying to the saints. I know it’s possible, I just can’t see why it’s necessary.” This question came from a fellow convert. Her conversion, like mine, was emotional and total and nearly as instantaneous. God simply handed her the Truth of the Church and reduced her (and continues to reduce her to tears) at the beauty of 2,000 years of the Faith laid out like a welcome mat before her. We both (and indeed we all) have been graced with the one true faith; what we don’t know is the details. This type of conversion of the heart means that the mind sometimes takes a little while to catch up, so my young friend will ask me questions on occasion, knowing I went through a similar process. Sometimes, I have looked into it already. Sometimes we have to go looking for answers and off we trot. This was what I found out in answer to her question. 

Unlike me and my spiritual meanderings, she comes directly from a Protestant background, so Biblical references are helpful to her. I’ve listed them below so you can read them at your leisure. For the purpose of this explanation, I am going to assume that you, too, know the truth, but are hungry to know why it should be true.

The Prayers of Petition: Who Needs Them?

1) God doesn’t need you. You need God.

First off, we need to understand that God doesn’t need anything. He Is. He can do what He wants, with or without our input. Petitioning God for you and your own needs or even intercessory prayer (a prayer that asks God to do something for another person) does not turn God into a slot machine. Insert prayer, pull handle, receive blessing. As we all know, every petitionary or intercessory prayer is answered with either a yes, a no, or a wait awhile.We need to ask. God wants us to ask, but He has no need of the asking.

2) Prayer is a gift.

The act of prayer is not even our own. It is our response to grace. The desire to pray is placed in our heart. It is a sign that we are beginning to cooperate with the Will of God, no matter how imperfectly. It is often the person praying that God changes in order to answer the prayer. So, for example, even though you may be praying for a stubborn coworker who drives you batty, the answer to your prayer may look a little like this:

You haven’t thought about that obnoxious co-worker much lately, but in the middle of an tense discussion with your husband you are suddenly graced with a vivid understanding of how petty you are being. You are given the insight to see that he is bothered by your demands, but is perfectly willing to do it your way to keep the peace. Not only do you see your own pettiness, but you can see a direct correlation between your pettiness and the pettiness of that coworker you’ve been praying for. The insight into your own character is in answer to that original prayer and if you could put it into words it would be something like: “Is it any wonder that this coworker bugs me so much? Everything he does pricks my conscience!”

I try hard to remember that there are an infinity of irritants in the world and most of them bounce off with little notice. It’s the irritants that resonate with our own faults that catch and hold our attention. I know this may seem off the topic, but it really has a lot to do with the question of praying to the saints. It has to do with our needs, rather than God’s. My point is that God does not need to be asked to act, and in a similar way, God does not need the saints to ask either. Neither do the saints need anything, being in Heaven already.

When we pray to God to change something in our life, we are responding to the grace to pray and are cooperating with His will. He will use our cooperation to change us, to make us more of who He created us to be. 

3) Intercessory prayer increases our communion with the Body of Christ.

It is a spiritual no-brainer to understand that praying increases our communion with God. You have to talk to someone to get to know them better, so that sort of truth about prayer can be intuited without much research or contemplation. Something about intercessory prayer that might not be obvious is that we begin to commune with each other as we pray. Prayer is communication. When we pray for others part of our communication is our communion with God and also with the person we are praying for. In other words, we are strengthening our relationship with that person through God. Strengthening the bonds with another strengthens the unity of the Body of Christ here on Earth. It brings us together in community here and helps us remember that we are, in fact, related and necessary for one another.

Asking the saints to pray for us is the same thing, only with the larger Body of Christ. The saints don’t need our prayers, being in Heaven already. God doesn’t need our prayers, being God, nor does He need the saint’s prayers. We have need of the saints, though. We need to be closer to those who have triumphed. We need to build stronger bonds with Heaven and the residents there. It helps us remember that there is our home, the more we call upon all the loved ones there. 

Our focus should be Heaven. Our actions should be Prayer. Our life should be God’s. Prayer helps us to make that happen. Prayer is so much more than what we bargain for and thank God for it!



 

 

Scripture Proofs (from this link)

I. We are One Family in Christ in Heaven and on Earth

Eph. 3:14-15- we are all one family (“Catholic”) in heaven and on earth, united together, as children of the Father, through Jesus Christ. Our brothers and sisters who have gone to heaven before us are not a different family. We are one and the same family. This is why, in the Apostles Creed, we profess a belief in the “communion of saints.” There cannot be a “communion” if there is no union. Loving beings, whether on earth or in heaven, are concerned for other beings, and this concern is reflected spiritually through prayers for one another.
Eph. 1:22-23; 5:23-32; Col. 1:18,24 – this family is in Jesus Christ, the head of the body, which is the Church.
1 Cor. 12:12,27; Rom. 12:5; Col. 3:15; Eph. 4:4 – we are the members of the one body of Christ, supernaturally linked together by our partaking of the Eucharist.
Rom. 8:35-39 – therefore, death does not separate the family of God and the love of Christ. We are still united with each other, even beyond death.
Matt. 17:3; Mark 9:4; Luke 9:30 – Jesus converses with “deceased” Moses and Elijah. They are more alive than the saints on earth.
Matt. 22:32; Mark 12:27; Luke 20:38 – God is the God of the living not the dead. The living on earth and in heaven are one family.
Luke 15:7,10 – if the angels and saints experience joy in heaven over our repentance, then they are still connected to us and are aware of our behavior.
John 15:1-6 – Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. The good branches are not cut off at death. They are alive in heaven.
1 Cor. 4:9 – because we can become a spectacle not only to men, but to angels as well, this indicates that angels are aware of our earthly activity. Those in heaven are connected to those on earth.
1 Cor. 12:26 – when one member suffers, all suffer. When one is honored, all rejoice. We are in this together as one family.
1 Cor 13:12; 1 John 3:2 – now we see in a mirror dimly, but in heaven we see face to face. The saints are more alive than we are!
Heb. 12:1: we are surrounded by a great glory cloud (shekinah) of witnesses. The “cloud of witnesses” refers to the saints who are not only watching us from above but cheering us on in our race to heaven.
1 Peter 2:9; Rev. 20:6 – we are a royal family of priests by virtue of baptism. We as priests intercede on behalf of each other.
2 Peter 1:4 – since God is the eternal family and we are His children, we are partakers of His divine nature as a united family.
1 Cor. 1:2; Rom. 1:7 – we are called to be saints. Saints refer to both those on earth and in heaven who are in Christ. Proof:
Acts 9:13,32,41; 26:10; 1 Cor. 6:1-2; 14:33; 2 Cor. 1:1; 8:4; 9:1-2; 13:13; Rom. 8:27; 12:23; 15:25,26, 31; 16:2,15; Eph. 1:1,15,18; 3:8; 5:3; 6:18; Phil. 1:1; 4:22; Col 1:2,4,26; 1 Tm 5:10; Philemon 1:5,7; Heb. 6:10; 13:24; Jude 1:3; Rev. 11:18; 13:7; 14:12; 16:6; 17:6;18:20,24; Rev 19:8; 20:9 – in these verses, we see that Christians still living on earth are called “saints.”
Matt. 27:52; Eph. 2:19; 3:18; Col. 1:12; 2 Thess. 1:10; Rev. 5:8; 8:3-4; 11:18; 13:10 – in these verses, we also see that “saints” also refer to those in heaven who united with us.
Dan. 4:13,23; 8:23 – we also see that the angels in heaven are also called “saints.” The same Hebrew word “qaddiysh” (holy one) is applied to both humans and angels in heaven. Hence, there are angel saints in heaven and human saints in heaven and on earth. Loving beings (whether angels or saints) are concerned for other beings, and prayer is the spiritual way of expressing that love.
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II. God Desires and Responds to Our Subordinate Mediation / Intercessory Prayer

1 Tim 2:1-2 – because Jesus Christ is the one mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5), many Protestants deny the Catholic belief that the saints on earth and in heaven can mediate on our behalf. But before Paul’s teaching about Jesus as the “one mediator,” Paul urges supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people. Paul is thus appealing for mediation from others besides Christ, the one mediator. Why?
1 Tim 2:3 – because this subordinate mediation is good and acceptable to God our Savior. Because God is our Father and we are His children, God invites us to participate in Christ’s role as mediator.
1 Tim. 2:5 – therefore, although Jesus Christ is the sole mediator between God and man, there are many intercessors (subordinate mediators).
1 Cor. 3:9 – God invites us to participate in Christ’s work because we are God’s “fellow workers” and one family in the body of Christ. God wants His children to participate. The phrase used to describe “fellow workers” is “sunergoi,” which literally means synergists, or cooperators with God in salvific matters. Does God need fellow workers? Of course not, but this shows how much He, as Father, loves His children. God wants us to work with Him.
Mark 16:20 – this is another example of how the Lord “worked with them” (“sunergountos”). God cooperates with us. Out of His eternal love, He invites our participation.
Rom. 8:28 – God “works for good with” (the Greek is “sunergei eis agathon”) those who love Him. We work as subordinate mediators.
2 Cor. 6:1 – “working together” (the Greek is “sunergountes”) with him, don’t accept His grace in vain. God allows us to participate in His work, not because He needs our help, but because He loves us and wants to exalt us in His Son. It is like the father who lets his child join him in carrying the groceries in the house. The father does not need help, but he invites the child to assist to raise up the child in dignity and love.
Heb. 12:1 – the “cloud of witnesses” (nephos marturon) that we are surrounded by is a great amphitheatre of witnesses to the earthly race, and they actively participate and cheer us (the runners) on, in our race to salvation.
1 Peter 2:5 – we are a holy priesthood, instructed to offer spiritual sacrifices to God. We are therefore subordinate priests to the Head Priest, but we are still priests who participate in Christ’s work of redemption.
Rev. 1:6, 5:10 – Jesus made us a kingdom of priests for God. Priests intercede through Christ on behalf of God’s people.
James 5:16; Proverbs 15:8, 29 – the prayers of the righteous (the saints) have powerful effects. This is why we ask for their prayers. How much more powerful are the saints’ prayers in heaven, in whom righteousness has been perfected.
1 Tim 2:5-6 – therefore, it is because Jesus Christ is the one mediator before God that we can be subordinate mediators. Jesus is the reason. The Catholic position thus gives Jesus the most glory. He does it all but loves us so much He desires our participation.


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