Do we have to pray to the saints?

For Catholics, the saints are an important aspect of our faith life. We celebrate their feast days, name our churches after them, and choose a patron saint when we receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. But do we have to pray to the saints?

Recently, a listener called in to Go Ask Your Father™ to ask this very question. She had recently returned to the Church and knew that praying to the saints was encouraged, but other Catholic family members told her that they don’t pray to the saints and there is nothing wrong with that. Monsignor Stuart Swetland explained:

“It’s about relationship. Once we are in Christ, not only are we in relationship with Christ, but all three persons in the Blessed Trinity. Because we are sons and daughters in the Son, we have a Christian relationship with the Father, we have a relationship with the Holy Spirit, and we have a relationship with Jesus. But we’re also in relationship with all others in Christ.

So we have the angels and the saints as our friends, as intercessors, as examples, as companions along the way. The Scriptures talk about the ‘cloud of witnesses’ that these men and women are to us.

We see in Jesus’ own earthly life, even though He’s the second person of the Blessed Trinity and is always speaking to the Father and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we see Him also invoking the intercession of the saints as He calls upon and communes with Elijah and Moses. He converses and He talks about His coming Passover with them on Mount Tabor. So we see that it is part of the Christian tradition. And in the book of Revelation, chapters 5 and 8, it speaks about the angels and saints making intercession for us in the divine liturgy in heaven.

So it’s a friendship, it’s a relationship. Just like I ask people to pray for me, and I pray for them. This is what Christians should do for each other as part of our communion that we have, and so we can ask our friends in heaven to pray for us, to intercede for us. And we know they will.

I’m looking right now at a picture of St. Thomas More, my Confirmation saint. And I do have a special relationship with Thomas More, and I ask him to pray for me and I keep that relationship alive. All of us should have a relationship with Mary and Joseph and whatever other saints that are appropriate to our way of life and our personal relationship.

So it’s a matter of friendship is what I’m saying. It’s relational. And that’s all prayer is, it’s talking to them and asking them to intercede for us with God. … I like to joke that the saints are friends in high places, and it’s good to have friends in high places.”

Listen to the full conversation below:

Go Ask Your Father airs weekdays at 1:00 p.m. Eastern/10:00 a.m. Pacific on Relevant Radio®.