Each time we recite the Apostles Creed, we confirm our belief in the communion of saints. This refers to the bond of unity among all believers, both living and dead, who are committed followers of Christ, and is often expressed in the Catholic practice of praying to the saints. A concern often voiced by non-Catholics, however, is that by doing this we are putting someone between ourselves and Jesus, and prayer should be addressed solely to God. The New Testament writings can help to clarify this traditional Church practice and show that it has a solid Christian foundation.
Asking for the saints’ intercession is based on our bond of unity with them. Christians are all members of the one Body of Christ and of one another (Romans 12:5, 1 Cor.12:27). We are also members of the household of God (Eph. 2:19), which includes those on earth as well as those in heaven, since death does not change that relationship (Romans 8:35-39). Interceding for one another is a natural result of a loving household (1 Cor. 12:25-26).
In 1 Tim 2:5 we read that Christ is the sole Mediator between God and men. Being both fully God and fully man, Jesus is the only one who perfectly fits that role. But we can participate in that mediatorship without detracting in any way from Jesus. St. Paul many times asked others for their prayers, and 1 Tim 2:3 indicates that God is pleased when we comply. When we ask the saints to intercede with God for us, we are acting no different than when we ask our fellow Christians for their intercession. Our prayer is still directed to God through Jesus but with the added voice of the saints and/or our brethren. If we who are imperfect and sinful expect our prayer to have merit, so much more should we expect the intercession of the righteous ones who stand in the presence of God to be meritorious (James 5:16).
Professing a belief in the communion of saints leads us to seek the intercession of those who have already received the crown of glory. It is yet one more instrument to guide us on the road to salvation, and continues to be encouraged through the authoritative teaching of the Catholic Church.