Is it superstitious to pray to the saints?


« Prier les saints, une superstition ? »


How much does the Lord help us through the prayer of his saints! Christians have always invoked their assistance. This is not superstition. It’s rather quite simple. Between friends, we ask to pray for each other. “Pray for me”, we say.  In the saints, we recognize friends, brothers and sisters, and parents invisibly present.

Entrusted to them

On the Cross, Christ entrusted his disciples to his most pure Mother: Here is your mother, He said to the Apostle John; here is your son, He said to Mary. This may be the origin of the fact that we believe in the protection of the saints. We have been entrusted to the Virgin Mary, and also to the whole family of the saints who surround the Mother of God. They are a little below her, but they are invested with the same grace and the same divine trust. The saints are those whom God trusts. We could picture it as Christ telling them, Holy So-and-so, here are your sons, your daughters, take care of them!

Spiritual children

Psalm 101:29 says, “The children of your servants shall dwell there.” This applies to the saints: we are their spiritual children, through the Holy Spirit. We have been spiritually begotten through their example, their faith, and their prayer. So we read their lives, we venerate their icons, and we invoke them. However, before being the spiritual children of Mary and of the saints, we are in the first place children of the heavenly Father and spiritual brothers and sisters of Jesus, by faith, baptism, and the holy anointing. And this divine filiation circulates among all those grafted onto Christ by their faith and their life.

Special charisms

We rely on some saints for special help. For instance, we pray Saint Odilia for those who have lost their sight or have eyes problem. We pray Saint Nectarius for those who suffer from a serious illness. For the sick, we especially pray Saint Nicholas and the holy mercenaries Cosmas and Damian, etc. Indeed, each of the saints who have been pleasing to God since the beginning of the world has a particular experience of the human condition, and often a special charisma associated to it. In concrete terms, this particular knowledge of human joys and sorrows, and this charism known during the very life of a saint, allow this or that saint to be particularly close to our needs, when we ask for their help.

The Lord is holy

Our faith must be healthy. The Mother of God does not take the place of Christ. Saints and angels are not gods: they are creatures! Only the Lord is God. Let’s be careful not to ask creatures what we ask our Creator. Thus we pray Christ saying, Through the prayers of your most pure Mother or of Saint so-and-so, have mercy on us, save us, heal us, etc. And we must always pray God in this way after we have spoken to a saint, saying: Saint so-and-so, pray to God for me, a sinner! Pray to God for his servant so-and-so! Pray to God for the healing, the health, and the salvation of our priest N…, of our brother/sister N …! It is a question of discernment and rectitude in faith. But when we pray with the saints, it means that we do not rely on our own strength and the efficiency of our own prayer.

Source (with picture)

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Emma Cazabonne was born and raised in France. She taught English before entering the Cistercian Order. She translated and published articles relevant to her interest in Cistercian spirituality, the Middle Ages, and Orthodoxy. She moved to the United States in 2001, converted to Orthodoxy in 2008, and married. Her husband is an Orthodox priest. She continued to publish articles, a Cistercian texts anthology, then finally launched her career in literary translation, while teaching French. If you are interested in having your book translated into French, she can be contacted here