Communion with the Saints

Healthy Ways to Pray in Communion with the Saints

The healthy way to pray in communion with the saints in heaven, works the same as praying in communion with the saints on Earth. To understand this process better, it will be helpful to define the meaning of the word saint. The word saint means a person who has been sanctified and set apart for God. When Saint Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians, he addressed it "to the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus." The saints in Ephesus were members of the church that were being sanctified by the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore the holy men and women in Ephesus were considered saints. The Catechism makes the same point in section 823 by saying, "The Church, then, is the holy People of God, and her members are called saints."

Praying together with the saints in heaven works the same as praying together with the saints on earth. We are all part of the same family. Some of our family members are already in heaven, others are being purified in purgatory, and still others are here on earth working out their salvation. When two saints on earth pray together, they are joining together in prayer, praying directly to God. God is defined as the Blessed Trinity—God the Father, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit. In order for prayer to be considered healthy, it needs to be centered and focused on God. When saints pray together, they are joining together in communion and conversation with God.

Because it would be considered unhealthy to pray directly to another human being as if that person was some kind of god, it is also unhealthy to pray directly to the saints in heaven as if they took the place of God. In order for prayer to be considered healthy, it needs to be centered and focused on the Blessed Trinity. When Catholics cross the line and start praying directly to spiritual entities other than God, it has the potential of becoming an unhealthy devotion no different than witchcraft.

Unhealthy Ways of Praying Directly to the Saints

In order for prayer to be considered healthy, it needs to be centered and focused on the Blessed Trinity in an effort to obtain God's will for your life. If you are not praying directly to God, then it is not considered prayer. Witchcraft is defined as a spiritual exercise that seeks to obtain power, blessings, special favors and knowledge from spiritual forces other than God himself.

A good example of an unhealthy devotion comes from the Nine-Day Saint Jude Novena. This novena is considered unhealthy because it requires participants to make 81 copies of a prayer and leave nine copies inside a church for nine consecutive days. This devotion is considered unhealthy because your Heavenly Father is not obligated to give you anything you want just because you participate in a superstitious practice. Authentic prayer is communication with God and it's important to align our will with God's will. God knows our needs before we ask. God knows every detail of our lives, and God is not obligated to give us anything we want just because we disseminate 81 copies of a "never been known to fail" novena inside a church.

Other examples of unhealthy devotions come from the New Age practice of channeling messages from the Ascended Masters. For more than a century, the faithful have been encouraged to develop a “special friendship” with one of the saints. In the New Age movement, this practice is called channeling messages from spirit guides. What's even more disturbing about this practice is that the New Age list of Ascended Masters includes many popular Catholic saints such as Padre Pio, John Paul II, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, Saint Germain, Archangel Michael and the Ascended Master Mary. More information about the dangers of channeling messages from angels and saints can be found in an article entitled Spirit Guide Channeling with the Ascended Masters.