Tuesday, April 18, 2006

My Thoughts: The Invocation of the Saints

From the Church Militant's earliest and best instinct that in the liturgy she was praying with the Church Triumphant (comprecation of the saints), it is only natural that at some point the Church's liturgy would begin to include general intercessions to members of the Church Triumphant (invocation of the saints). From there, it is not difficult to see where popular devotion would eventually take things. But it is an error to think that the invocation of saints stands on its own as a Medieval innovation or a departure from early church faith and practice; it is neither. Rather the practice of the invocation of the saints is grounded in, and follows from, the Church's earliest affirmations of the comprecation of the saints. That is why I find it helpful to think of saintly invocation in the following way: it is but prayer offered in the certain hope that God will answer the general intercessions of the Church Triumphant in specific ways for us.


Brett said...

Your new blog is quickly becoming a favorite of mine, Dr. Dan :)

Concerning the Invocation of the Saints, I agree with you. To be honest the Articles are simply incorrect to pin the practice as "Romish" since they predate the growth of Papal Primacy in the Church, and were/are an important part of the piety of the Eastern Churches..

As for myself..it seems incomplete, unnatural, and completely artificial to not include the saints (most especially the Blessed Virgin Mary) in my prayer life. I don't deny that the Saints have at times been abused by excessive devotional practices..but how cutting them out altogether and forbidding even the simplest utterance of a "pray for me" is any less of an error baffles me.

Unfortunately, as an REC in the Tri-state area, such growing 'catholic' convictions leave me feeling like the odd man out.. but turning back from the fullness of the catholic faith is simply not an option..

Jason Loh said...


I'd like to hear your thoughts concerning the Angels in relation to the Church's intercessions, i.e. historical practice, abuses, correctives, options and boundaries.



lexorandi2 said...

Thanks, Brett. At one time, the "Romish" reference in the 39 Articles was a source of irritation for me. But in that it must be read in its 16th century context and then only condemns practices and abuses presumably of late Roman origin it's not really much of a factor. These days even Rome is wont to distance itself from former medieval abuses.

lexorandi2 said...

You've inspired me, Jason. I will give it some thought and then post something.


Jason Loh said...


Thank you for your encouraging words. :-)

Actually, I think the fact that I visit RC websites (including the anti-V2 Traditionalists), not to mention Lutheran more than Reformed seemed to be moulding my theological approach at the "presuppositional level".

Having said this, I'm also thinking in the context of the (recognised) reality of Angels in the lives of individual Christians, particularly those in the yoke of the Roman obedience and from the Byzantine communion.

I mean pastorally, if I am a priest and I have got a parishioner or visitor relating to me about a near harrowing encounter and attributing the deliverance to a guardian angel, ... what, just because I am Protestant, there's no place for including Angels in a thanksgiving prayer?

That goes for the Bodily Assumption of Our Lady too among other things ... to suppress what can legitimately amont to a "pious opinion" is uncharitable ...

Of course you understand that's if I have folks "fleeing" a continuing jurisdiction on course towards unity with the See of Peter! Now, this last para wasn't meant to offend!

Thanks again, Dan.

Johnny! said...

Is the ability to look on the heart a communicable attribute of God? I ask because I assume many prayers to saints are made in silence.

lexorandi2 said...

I'm not sure I understand your question here, Johnny. Could you clarify?


Johnny! said...

The common line of reasoning in defense of devotions to saints is that, as we ask each other for intercessory prayer, so we may ask, say, Mary. I have some disagreement right there but that's not what I'm pursuing here.

Many of the requests made to a departed saint are silent. Many take place at the same time all over the world. The assumption is that the saint can hear the prayer made in the petitioner's heart and can comprehend many such petitions at once.

What evidence do we have that a saint in Heaven can hear what a man utters in his heart, or has the omniscience to hear and understand all these prayers at one time? To me, these seem to be attributes of God in which we have no part.