Because Catholics have been posting things about All Saints Day and All Souls Day (Nov. 1 & 2) as of late, I’ve been encountering one of the more common errors on social media about Catholicism, which often pops up in the form of a question:
Why don't Catholics just pray directly to God?
This short article is a quick response to my Protestant friends who just can’t seem to give up on disseminating this common error about Catholicism.
In short, Catholics DO pray directly to God. We just recognize the Church is a family. In the order of grace, God is Father, Mary is mother (of Christ and His mystical body), the saints are our older brothers and sisters, and the angels our friends. Even with physical death, all remain spiritually united in Christ. The only ones who are spiritually dead are those who reject God – in Hell and on earth.
If you ever attend a Catholic Mass, you'll see that 95% of the prayers are addressed directly to the Father. The other 5% are to the Son. The angels and saints are recognized as being present, and praying with us and for us.
From what we understand through divine Revelation, the disembodied souls of the dead retain the person’s consciousness and identity. The human soul is subsistent as the spiritual form of the body, and hence able to survive bodily death. Yet, since humans are by nature body-soul composites, by itself the soul is incomplete. After its particular judgment, the personal soul knows its eternal destiny and anticipates the resurrection of the body on the last day. Nonetheless, while united to Christ in Heaven, they are able to hear our petitions and respond out of love.
One point of confusion may be the word 'pray'. Its etymology means "to ask earnestly". It is this sense that Catholics use the word 'pray' when referring to asking intercessory prayer from a saint in Heaven or a friend on earth. But there is a clear understanding that all gifts are from God; and no one worships anything or anyone other than the Trinity. Sometimes, for Catholics, that worship comes within a family dynamic, i.e. the family of God.
So, my separated friends, before you innocently (or not-so-innocently) repeat the same constant falsehood that Catholics don't pray directly to God, or that they worship Mary and the saints, think before you speak.