Why do Catholics pray to Mary?

News & Politics

Why do Catholics pray to Mary and the saints? What do Catholics believe about salvation? And is it anti-Semitic to say Jews killed Jesus? Trent Horn from Catholic Answers recently joined “Relatable with Allie Beth Stuckey” to answer these and more questions in an episode about the longstanding disagreement between Protestant and Catholic beliefs.

Catholics have many practices that Protestants find unbiblical: mainly, praying to Mary and the saints and the place of honor Mary has in the Catholic Church. Protestants maintain that praying to saints has no biblical basis, and since Jesus himself intercedes for Christians on earth, we have no need for the intercession of Mary or the saints, citing verses like 1 Timothy 2:5 and Hebrews 2:5 as evidence:

“There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2:5)
He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them.” (Hebrews 7:25)

Protestants also believe that since the saints have died, they have no way of hearing our prayers, and trying to pray to them could be condemned as attempting to speak with the dead, as seen in Leviticus:

“A man or a woman who is a medium or a necromancer shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones; their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:27)

On the Catholic side, Catholics believe that saints are able to intercede on behalf of Christians on earth, since though physically dead, they are spiritually alive and more alive in Christ than Christians are on earth. Since they are spiritually alive, it is not necromancy — it is asking for the prayers of the members of the body of Christ in heaven. They believe the ability of the saints to hear prayers from Christians on earth is through the omnipotence of God. To support this, Catholics point to mentions of the prayers of the saints in Revelation:

“The twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” (Rev. 5:8)
“The smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God.” (Rev. 8:4)

Catholics also do not believe that Christ being the one mediator means Christians cannot ask for the intercessory prayers of Mary, the saints, and other Christians on earth. While Christ is the one mediator between God and man, and no one else can fill that role, Catholics believe that all Christians are called to be mediators between Christ and the world.

On “Relatable,” Trent Horn cited the earliest-known liturgical prayer not found in Scripture — the
“Sub Tuum Praesidium” (meaning “Beneath Thy Protection”) — as evidence of the early church praying to and honoring Mary. This prayer was found on Greek papyrus around 300 A.D. and asks for the protection and intercession of Mary:

“We turn to you for protection,Holy Mother of God.
Listen to our prayers
and help us in our needs.
Save us from every danger,
glorious and blessed Virgin.”

Many Protestants do not believe that Mary has a place of honor, while Catholics maintain that Mary is the mother of God, the queen of heaven and earth, and deserving of a special type of reverence and love. Allie referenced Mark 3:31-35 as an example of her beliefs that Mary does not have a special place of honor:

“And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, ‘Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.’ And he answered them, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.’”

Trent then explained his view of these verses, “I think we can misread that, because … one could take that so far as to say, ‘Oh, you know, your mother doesn’t really matter. You don’t have to worry about your mother, what matters more are other believers.'” He continued, “But the Bible’s also very clear you have special obligations to your parents … what’s going on here is Jesus is saying that to have a special relationship with him it is not necessary to be his biological kin.”

The conversation also veered into intercessory prayer, the definition of prayer itself, Sola Scriptura, and salvation theology. This episode is jam-packed with theology and definitely not an episode you want to miss — whether Protestant, Catholic, or any other faith.

Want more from Allie Beth Stuckey?

To enjoy more of Allie’s upbeat and in-depth coverage of culture, news, and theology from a Christian, conservative perspective, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution, and live the American dream.

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