Saint Worship - Part 11

The Catholic system is the system of the universe, and presents the relations of the universe to its Creator, Upholder, and Governor, as they really are; and hence the Catholic is saved alike from either atheistic or pantheistic fatalism or nihilism. He neither makes man God nor reduces him to a mere appearance, a bubble on the surface of the ocean. He believes in God the Creator, and in the reality of creation: that God gives real existence to His creatures; that they therefore are, in their order and degree, second causes, co-operative with God in gaining the end for which all things are made. He believes that, when created, they become ministries and agencies in the Hands of God to that end; that they are honored in being so employed, and according to their nature and merit can and really do share in the glory of God Himself. Hence he sees in the intercession of the saints only an integral part of the universal plan of the Creator, as I have heretofore shown, a part of the universal mediatorial order.

There is no idolatry in invoking the saints, for we do not invoke them as God, or gods, but simply as men, united with us in one and the same communion – not separated from us by death, but, in fact, brought nearer to us, and rendered more able to assist us. There is no superstition in it, because we ask of the saints nothing which they are not able to give, or competent to do. We ask only their prayers, and these they can give, are always willing to give; and their prayers, prompted by pure, disinterested love, and having for their end the greater glory of God, must be well-pleasing to their and Our Lord.

There is nothing in this invocation derogatory to the honor of Our Lord. Nothing is more pleasing to us than the honors paid to those we ourselves love and honor; and equally pleasing therefore must be to Our Lord whatever love and honor we pay to the saints who are His brothers, and whom He deigns to call His friends, for He in His humanity is man in all points as we are, sin excepted. Nay, to refuse to honor them by our prayers would be a gross indignity, a grave affront, offered to Himself. Especially is this true with regard to Mary, the Mother of God. Between Our Lord and Her there is the real relation of Mother and Son, as real in heaven as it was on earth. Our Lord, as the Son of Mary, loves and honors [her] as His Mother, and always will do so. Judge, then, by your own love and reverence for your mother whether He can be jealous of the honors paid to His Mother; whether He must not Himself delight to load Her with honors, and to see all others honoring Her.

So far from detracting from the honor due to God in invoking His saints, we honor Him in the most pleasing and delicate manner in our power by showing honor to them. It is to honor them that He permits them to intercede with Him for others, and in soliciting them to intercede for us, we only do what He Himself does; we honor whom He honors, and the honor we render them is included in the reward He bestows on all who have followed Him in the regeneration.

There is, then, an evident fitness in the doctrine of saint-worship as taught by the Church and practiced by her children; it harmonizes with the whole plan of creation and of redemption. And they little suspect how much they lose who neglect it, and what indignity they offer to God and His saints who willfully reject it – who treat as idolaters debased and besotted by superstition such as faithfully practice it, delighting to love and honor those whom God Himself loves and delights to honor.