The 0ld Testament on the Invocation of Saints.
The doctrine of the Catholic Church, that the Angels and Saints pray for us, that God hears their prayers for us, and that "it is good and useful suppliantly to invoke them, and have recourse to their prayers, aid, and help, for obtaining benefits from God, through his Son Jesus Christ, our Lord, who is our sole Redeemer and Saviour," is clearly proved from the 0ld and New Testament, and from the tradition of the Church.
In the Old Law, Angels prayed, and God heard their prayers for His rebellious people. An Angel thus prayed for the city of Jerusalem: "And the Angel of the Lord answered, and said: 0 Lord of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem, and on the cities of Juda, with which thou hast been angry? This is now the seventieth year. And the Lord answered the Angel that spoke in me good words, comfortable words . . . Therefore, thus saith the Lord: I will return to Jerusalem in mercies; My house shall be built in it, saith the Lord of hosts, and the building line shall be stretched forth from Jerusalem . . . My cities shall yet flow with good things, and the Lord will yet comfort Sion, and he will yet choose Jerusalem" (Zac. i. 12-17). Here the prayers of the Angel obtained mercy for Jerusalem and the cities of Juda.
The Angel Raphael said to Tobias: "When thou didst pray with tears, and didst bury the dead, and didst leave thy dinner, and hide the dead by day in thy house, and bury them by night, I offered thy prayers to the Lord" (Tob.xii. 12). Thus an Angel offered to God the prayers of His faithful servant, Tobias.
Jacob thus prayed: "And Jacob blessed the sons of Joseph, and said: God, in whose sight my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, God that feedeth me from my youth until this day, the Angel that delivereth me from all evils, bless these boys" (Gen. xlviii. 15). Here in the same sentence, and in the same prayer, he begs of "God" and the "Angel" to bless his boys.
Angels not only pray for and help individuals, but even nations and kingdoms have their protecting spirit, as is clear from the Book of Daniel "The prince of the kingdoms of the Persians visited me one-and twenty days: and behold Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, and I remained there by the king of the Persians" (Dan. x. 13). In the Book of Machabees, the same doctrine, in even clearer terms, is taught and confirmed. The brave Judas Maccabeus, animated with soul-stirring words his gallant army to fight and die for the Laws of God and their native hills. "So he armed every one of them, not with defence of shield and spear, but with very good speeches and exhortations, and told them a dream worthy to be believed, whereby he rejoiced them all."
"Now, this vision was in this manner: 0nias, who had been high priest, a good and virtuous man . . . holding up his hands, prayed for all the people of the Jews. After this there appeared also another man, admirable for age and glory, and environed with great beauty and majesty. Then 0nias answering, said: This is a lover of his brethren and of the people of Israel; this is he that prayeth much for the people and for all the holy city, Jeremias, the Prophet of God. Whereupon Jeremias stretched forth his right hand, and gave to Judas a sword of gold, saying: Take this holy sword, a gift from God, wherewith thou shalt overthrow the adversaries of my people Israel . . . And in his prayer he said after this manner: Thou, 0 Lord, who didst send Thy Angel in the time of Ezechias, king of Judah, and didst kill a hundred and eighty-five thousand of the army of Sennacherib, send now, also, 0 Lord of heaven, Thy good Angel before us" (2 Mao. xv. 12-23).
Here we see, in the first place, that two Saints, 0nias and Jeremias, long since dead, prayed for, and promised victory to the gallant army of Judas; and, secondly, Judas prayed the Almighty to send down his "good Angel" to protect them on the battle field.
The 0ld Testament abounds ,'with many other texts to the same purpose; but those already cited clearly prove the belief of the Jewish Church in the Invocation and Intercession of the Angels and Saints in paradise.
The New Testament on the Invocation of Saints.
This holy doctrine, this belief in the Intercession and Invocation of the Angels and Saints, is continued and confirmed in the the New Testament.
We shall content ourselves with a few passages. In the Apocalypse, St. John writes: "And I saw seven Angels standing in the presence of God: and there were given to them seven trumpets. And another Angel came, and stood before the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer the prayers of all Saints upon the golden altar, which is before the throne of God. And the smoke of the incense of the prayers of the Saints ascended up before God, from the hand of the Angel" (chap. viii. 2-4). And again : " When he had opened the book, the four living creatures, and the four-and twenty ancients fell down before the Lamb, having everyone of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of Saints " (Apoc. v. 8).
In the 0ld Testament, as we have seen, an Angel offered to God the prayers of Tobias. This doctrine is confirmed in the New Testament; for in the text just cited, we find "the prayers of Saints" offered to God by the hands of Angels in "golden censers" and "golden vials."
The same Evangelist prays thus: "John, to the seven churches which are in Asia. Grace be unto you and peace from Him that is, and that was, and that is to come, and from the seven spirits which are before his throne, And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth, who hath loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood" (chap. i. 4). Here St. John, in the same breath, and in the same terms, prays for "grace" and "peace" from " God" from praying at all times in the spirit; and in the same, watching with all instance and supplication for all the Saints" (Eph. vi. 18). Writing to the Thessalonians, the Saint says: "Brethren, pray for me" (1 Thes. v. 25). One text more. St. Paul to the Philippians says: "For I know that this shall fall out unto my salvation through your prayers" (Phil. i. 19). Here St. Paul, in the clearest terms, craves, covets, and values the prayers of his brethren. Now, if God's Servants oil earth, surrounded, as they are, with all the frailties to which flesh is heir to, can help and aid us, as St. Paul teaches us that they can, by their prayers, how much more the Saints who reign with God in glory.
That God shows mercy to sinners, through the prayers of His Servants on earth, is clearly proved from the following passage from holy Job: 'God said to Job's friends: My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends, because you have not spoken the thing that is right before me, as my servant Job hath. Take unto you therefore seven oxen and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer for yourselves a holocaust: and my servant Job shall pray for you : his face I will accept, that folly be not imputed to you: for you have not spoken right thing* before me, as my servant Job hath. So Eliphaz, the Themanite and Baldad the Suhite, and Sophar the Naamathite went, and did as the Lord had spoken to them, and the Lord accepted the face of Job. The Lord also was turned at the penance of Job, when he prayed for his friends " (Job, xlii. 7-10).
We might quote many other texts to show how often the prayers of the Patriarchs and Prophets, and especially those of the prayers of Moses, obtained mercy and pardon from God for their faithless and sinful people.
Now, if it be lawful and profitable, and the word of God clearly proves it to be so, to ask the prayers of God's Servants on earth, how much more so must it be to desire and to obtain the prayers of those who reign with God in glory? If mortal man, who on earth "falls seven times," can pray for, and help his fellow-creature, how much more the soul that, in the Beatific Vision, sees God ,;face to face." If the soul of man, confined within the prison of the body, fettered and chained down by the corrupt frailties of human nature; and, moreover, sullied in the sight of God by so many lesser stains and sins, which no man during this life can avoid, yet can nevertheless pray for and help the sinful, is it not just and reasonable to believe that that soul when released from the prison of the body, freed from all human frailty, clothed with immortality, illumined by the glory of Paradise, absorbed, so to speak, in the infinite ocean of God's sanctity and loveliness, and thus become pure and holier in the eyes of God, has far more power to help those she prays for on earth?
But Protestants will say, that to ask the prayers of the Saints is injurious to the merits of Christ as our sole Mediator. Now, they must admit that it is lawful to ask the prayers of the living; and if the prayers of the Servants of God on earth detract not from the merits of the Redeemer, how can the Intercession of the Saints in heaven be injurious to Christ as our sole Mediator? Did St. John sin against the merits of Christ when he prayed for "grace " and "peace" "from the seven spirits" that stand before the throne of God? Did St. Paul detract from the merits of Christ when he so often asked the prayers of his brethren? 0n the contrary, it redounds to the merits of Christ; for the prayers of the Saints derive all their efficacy from the merits of Jesus Christ alone, as our sole Mediator.
Protestants yet reply, and say, the Angels and Saints cannot and do not know what is passing on earth, and have no concern with the affairs of men.
It requires no very heavy artillery to storm this last fortress. 0ur Blessed Saviour tells us, "there shall be joy before the Angels of God upon one sinner doing penance" (Luke, xv. 10). Now, penance or conversion is an interior act of the soul; how could the Angels rejoice at the conversion of sinners unless they knew what passes in the hearts of men? St. John says, "Another Angel came and stood before the altar, having a golden censer: and there was given to him much incense that he should offer up the prayers of all the Saints upon the golden altar, which is before the throne of God" (Apoc. viii. 3). Prayer is an act of the soul; how could the Angel " offer up the prayers of all the Saints," if he did not know them? Hence it is clear that the Angels know what passes in the souls of men.
We shall cite only one text more out of the many. The rich glutton in hell said to Abraham, " Then, father, I beseech thee that thou wouldst send him (Lazarus) to my father's house, for I have five brethren. That he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torments. And Abraham said to him: They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them" (Luke, xvi. 27).
From this it is clear that Abraham, though dead several hundred years, knew all about Moses, the Prophets, their writings; and hence all that was passing on earth. Therefore, from the inspired word of God, we must conclude that the Saints and Angels take an interest in the affairs of men, and know our secret thoughts and acts.
'Angels, Archangels," sings Holy Church, "Thrones and Dominations, Principalities and Powers, Virtues, Cherubim and Seraphim, Patriarchs and Prophets, holy Doctors of the law, Apostles, all ye Martyrs of Christ, holy Confessors, Virgins of the Lord, Anchorites, and all Saints, intercede for us" (Brev.). the "seven spirits," and from "Jesus Christ;" just as the Catholic prays, "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, help me;" "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, assist me in my last agony."
No Protestant can deny that it is lawful to ask the prayers of the living, of God's Servants on earth, and that the living can intercede for, and help each other by their prayers; nay, more, that the prayers of the just on earth often obtain pardon and mercy for the sinner. St. Paul clearly proves this doctrine. He says: "I beseech you, therefore, brethren, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the charity of the Holy Ghost, that you help me in your prayers for me to God'' (Rom. xv. 30). Again, "By all prayer and supplication,