Q. Where does the Bible say to ask for help from the angels or the saints who have died?
A. The Bible provides us examples of their assistance. When the Jewish general Judas Maccabeus was leading the resistance to the Greek occupation of his country, he told his soldiers about “a dream, a kind of vision, worthy of belief” (2 Maccabees 15:11). In this vision, the general saw Onia’s, a former high priest who had died, “praying without-stretched arms for the whole Jewish com-munity” (verse 12). Then he saw “God’s prophet Jeremiah, who loves his brethren and fervently prays for his people and their holy city” (verse 14). Jeremiah had also died, many years before. In part, through the loving and powerful assistance of these two Old Testament saints, the Jewish fighters won their battle. The angel Raphael told the couple Tobit and Sarah, “When you ... prayed, it was I who presented and read the record of your prayer before the Glory of the Lord” (Tobit 12:12). Then God sent Raphael to heal them in answer to their prayer (verse 14). In the New Testament, Jesus’ story of Lazarus the beggar (Luke 16:19–31) assumes that the deceased man is aware of those still living, is concerned for them, and wants to help them. In the Book of Revelation, the Christian martyrs in heaven know what is happening on earth, and they pray to God to accomplish justice there. In addition, both the saints and the angels in heaven bring to God’s throne “the prayers of the holy ones” (Revelation 6:9–11; 5:6–8; 8:3–4). In such passages, we find the saints and angels acting as mediators before God for believers on earth, either interceding or otherwise assisting them. (In the parable, even some-one in hell is attempting to do so, if unsuccessfully.) Does this contradict St. Paul’s statement that “there is ... one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5)? Not at all. The Apostle wasn’t excluding a share, a participation, of others in Christ’s mediating role. In fact, whenever Christians pray for one another, whether in heaven or on earth, they are doing just that. Catholics ask the saints and angels for their help, then, for the same reason they ask other Christians on earth to pray for them and assist them: It has pleased God to make us interdependent as members of Christ’s Body (1 Corinthians 12:12–27). One evening long ago when my children were still young, I was sitting in my chair, reading, and they were playing together a few feet away. My three-year-old son asked his older sister to help him tie his shoe, and she did so happily. Did I react angrily and say, “Son, why would you ask your sister to help you when you could have asked me? I’m your father, and I’m right here!” Of course not! I was delighted that he would ask his sister’s help, and that she would so cheerfully respond. The episode demonstrated their mutual affection, bonded them together a bit more closely, and allowed my daughter to practice charity. I think God feels much the same way when we ask for help from the saints —our elder brothers and sisters in the family of faith —and the angels, whom He sends to help us. He isn’t jealous, as if the saints and angels are His rivals for our affection. Instead, He delights in our communion of love. PT