As Catholics, we believe that the saints in heaven intercede for us here on earth. Some saints we even turn to for specific reasons – like St. Anthony if you’ve lost your keys, or St. Joseph if you’re trying to sell your house. But if the saints can hear everyone’s prayers, does that mean that they are omniscient? How can they hear the prayers of those on earth when they are in heaven?
A listener recently called in to Go Ask Your Father™ and asked Monsignor Stuart Swetland if the saints are omniscient, or all-knowing. Msgr. Swetland explained that no, the saints are not all-knowing, but because they are united to the all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving God they are given the knowledge they need to intercede for us.
And while the saints do occupy a special place in the body of Christ as the Church Triumphant, Msgr. Swetland explained that the knowledge and power given to the saints is simply a continuation of what the Lord does in the lives of the faithful here on earth.
“Each and every person in the body of Christ has his or her vocation. And we begin that vocation here and now, but it’s brought to its fulfillment in heaven,” he said. “As St. Therese recognized, even though she was a very young woman dying in her early 20s, she understood that she would spend her time in heaven doing good on earth. In other words, her vocation of prayer and intercession would continue in the life to come. It would actually continue in a more powerful way in the life to come.”
A vocation is a call from the Lord toward something, and the Lord is always willing to provide the grace needed to fulfill that vocation. So for those called to the married life, the Lord can provide the grace to live that vocation in a way that is faithful, holy, and fruitful. Just so with those who are called to the priesthood, religious life, or single life. Msgr. Swetland pointed out that the vocation of the saints is to intercede for us, and God gives them what is needed to be able to hear our prayers.
“Because each of us have our vocation in Christ, we’re given everything by Christ to fulfill that vocation,” he said. “So the saints in heaven, and the angels too, are given what they need to know and are given the power they need to be given by God to fulfill their vocation in Christ. Which for the saints in heaven, as Revelation chapter 5 tells us, is interceding for us.”
“So God gives them that power and gives them the knowledge they need to know to be able to do that vocation. Just like he gives all of us what we need to fulfill our vocation here and now.”
Listen to the full conversation below: