There is one remaining hurdle: gut feeling. For many Protestants and former Protestants, praying to the Saints just feels wrong. It’s a feeling that cuts deeper than rational argument, and their conscience just isn’t at peace with the idea. Here, mutual respect and love are called for. In the early Church, converts from Judaism couldn’t bring themselves to eat meat sacrificed to idols. Even if they logically knew it wasn’t idolatry, it still felt wrong. Paul’s reaction (in Romans 14-15 and elsewhere) was to call both sides to stop judging each other. He acknowledged that everything had been made clean, but still called upon the Gentiles to respect the scruples of their Jewish brethren; likewise, the Jews couldn’t force their scruples upon the Gentiles (Rom. 14:2-4). All were entreated to follow their conscience, since violating conscience is a sin (Rom. 14:5, 14, 23).
We would do well to follow that model. Praying to Mary and the Saints is Biblically sound, and spiritually beneficial, but it’s not obligatory. If someone’s conscience won’t allow them to do so, be gentle and generous with them. Protestants, don’t force your scruples on your Catholic brethren. Catholics, don’t needlessly scandalize your Protestant brethren. Love one another.
Thursday, 23 April 2015
Shameless Popery: Is Praying to the Saints Idolatrous?