Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Praying in whose name?

I ran across this article at USA Today and it got me thinking about prayer and "Saints."


The Vatican on Monday announced a 17th-century Mohawk-Algonquin woman will be canonized as a Catholic saint, the first Native American from North America so proclaimed.

It takes proof of two miracles to certify that a Catholic is clearly in heaven asking God to help people who pray in their name. Now, a second critical miracle has been credited to prayers in the name of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, who died in 1680 at age 24.

Jacob "Jake" Finkbonner of Ferndale, Wash., was 5 years old in 2006 when he split his lip playing baseball, developed a deadly flesh-eating strep infection and lay near death for months at Seattle Children's Hospital.

Jake's father, Don, is Native American and a member of the Lummi tribe. Its parish priest at the time, Timothy Sauer, urged Jake's parents to pray to Kateri to seek God's miracle, said Jake's mother, Elsa Finkbonner.

Sauer said he suggested Kateri because "I knew Kateri herself had been deeply disfigured by smallpox, so it seemed like she would be a good person to call on for this young boy whose face and head were infected.

"And I knew that Native American Christians have been looking forward to the church's acknowledgment of their contributions in a more public way. Kateri Tekakwitha has always been a rallying point for their faith."

Elsa Finkbonner said Jake turned the corner toward survival after a visit by a member of the Tekakwitha Conference, based in Great Falls, Mont., which evangelizes to a half-million Native American Catholics. The woman, also named Kateri, brought a small coin with an image of Blessed Kateri and a prayer card, Finkbonner said.

"I pinned that relic to his pillow and I read that prayer to him every single day," she said.

Today, Jake is training to be an altar boy at church and still playing basketball.

"I pray to Kateri now myself," Jake said Monday. "Other people have asked about my story and told me their stories, and I pray to her for other people to be healed."
The Vatican scrupulously investigates miracle claims for proof that recovery was not a result of medical or surgical attention.


OK, a couple of things I'd like to point out.

  • The whole Catholic Saint thing has always baffled me. I have always used the word saint as the Bible does, as the identity of one who is redeemed in the blood of Christ. For example: I am a saint in Jesus Christ. Paul addressed many of his epistles to the saints of Ephesus or Corinth or whatever place he may have been writing to. These saints were all living.
  • Wouldn't it be difficult to determine if someone met the requirements of Catholic Sainthood? 
    • It takes proof of two miracles to certify that a Catholic is clearly in heaven asking God to help people who pray in their name.
    •  So the Vatican can verify that someone is praying to a would be saint, and that "saint" is in turn in Heaven praying to God to meet that request, and then God does in fact grant that particular petition? Wow! I wouldn't want the responsibility for making these calls.
  •  Now what bothers me most, is that people are being encouraged to pray to a saint, who can then in turn pray for them, to God. WHY?
     Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
(Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV)
 Is there any name that gives us greater access to the Father than that of the Son?  To seek any other way would be to disregard the glorious, saving work of Christ.
    For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, (1 Timothy 2:5 ESV)
     Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. (John 14:13-14 ESV)
Why would any one ever believe that any prayer could be more readily heard and answered than that which is offered in Jesus' name?

This is the saddest line of the whole story.
"I pray to Kateri now myself," Jake said.
Jesus is never mentioned in this entire story. Jake is now praying to Kateri.

  • One more thing. I have an issue with this statement. 
The Vatican scrupulously investigates miracle claims for proof that recovery was not a result of medical or surgical attention.
Why can't medical and surgical attention be an answer to prayer? We pray for loved ones to be healed all the time. Is the ability to diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries not a gift from God? In his love, has he not provided all these things for his children?


I'm done ranting now. It's your turn. Am I defending the faith or should I be burned at the stake?



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