When my mom was a girl, the kids in her neighborhood called her a "Cat-licker," a childish pejorative for "Catholic." Catholics were different, suspicious. They ate the body of Christ! They followed the Popes orders!
You'd think things would have changed. But it wasn't too many years ago that a woman I knew, someone I considered a friend, actually brought up this old chestnut: "You Catholics pray to the saints instead of to God!" Maybe there are things that still need explaining.
Imagine you're looking for a job, when your dream opportunity opens up at a company with a fabulous reputation. You want this job. You want it badly. Then you find out, serendipitously, that a good friend of yours from college is on the hiring committee. You'd reach out to your friend, wouldn't you?
It's the same with Catholics and saints. Saints are people, first and foremost. They're not angels or other supernatural beings. They lived here on earth. They're relatable. But they also know God. Intimately! They live with him!
Catholics pray exclusively to their higher power, to God. But we aren't above asking a friend to put in a good word for us. And that's where saints fit in. They're that old college friend on the hiring committee, someone who has pull with "the big guy/gal."
So we ask. I know; it looks suspiciously like prayer. The saints we're talking to aren't in the room with us, after all. But it isn't. It's intercession. Certain saints are associated with certain types of intercession: Saint Lawrence, my patron saint, is the patron saint of cooking. Saint Jude responds to lost causes. Saint Anthony is good to talk to about finding lost objects. Think of saints as an extra line of communication with God.
I don't have a problem with intercession. It makes sense to me. That doesn't mean I agree with everything the Catholic Church does or says. Far from it.
- Lori Strawn