Intercessory Prayer and Saints

Since Lent is the season for prayer, almsgiving and fasting, I would like to focus on intercessory prayer.

I recently met a young Catholic family and had the opportunity to speak to them after Mass. I reminded the two older children to pray every day. The son and daughter, ages 9 and 6 respectively, responded, saying that they do pray every day. They informed me that part of their daily prayer includes asking for the intercession of their patron saints and then praying three Hail Marys.

These children were quite knowledgeable about the lives of their patron saints. The son already knew all the responses and prayers for Mass, including the Nicene Creed by heart, and actively participated in the Mass. These holy children were well on their way to sainthood.

I was inspired to share this story of how these children not only prayed every day, but also prayed to their patron saints, with my nephews. I reminded my young nephews to remember to pray every day and asked them which saints they liked. I encouraged them to ask the intercession of their patron saints as part of their daily prayer.

The next day a non-Catholic friend of my nephew asked, “Why do we pray to saints since they are not God?” My nephew texted me about his friend’s question, which afforded me the opportunity to teach my nephew more about our Catholic faith and prayer.

I told my nephew that of course we know the saints are not God; the saints are saints. Catholics do not pray to saints per se. However, we do ask the saints to intercede for us in their prayers to our Lord on our behalf.

I pointed out that Christians regularly ask others for prayers, i.e. intercessory prayers. As Catholics, we not only ask people on earth to pray for us, but we also especially ask the saints in heaven to pray for us. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful. (James 5:16 NABRE)

This Lenten season is a good time for us to deepen our prayer and help the children in our families grow their prayer, too. By divine providence I was blessed with the opportunity to teach my nephews more about intercessory prayer and the saints.

Lent is a good time to remember to teach our children more about intercessory prayer, especially asking the saints for the help of their prayers. Our children might even have the opportunity to teach their friends about prayer and asking the saints for help, too. Have a blessed and fruitful Lent.

By Father Eric Tolentino, pastor of Annunciation BVM, Catasauqua.


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