About prayers to saints

The key to how Catholics regard the saints lies in the Catholic view of the Christian family. To Catholics, all Christians are active, accessible “relatives", just as your mother next door and your sister in Japan are both active members of your own family. You cannot see your sister every day, but you still call or write to ask for prayers when you have need.

To Catholics, the saints simply are among the Christian relatives who have completed their earthly trials and relocated. We cannot see them everyday, but we can still request the benefit of their wisdom and, if you will, their closer proximity to God.

Catholics count the saints as more experienced and wiser friends. Prayers “to” the saints are meant to be additions to, rather than replacements for, personal prayers directly to God, just as the prayers of our earthly family add to our own personal prayers. Most prayers addressed to saints actually are requests for intercession - their prayers to God - for our petitions.

I like to think of the saints as elder brothers and sisters. Since I had little family, I also had fewer mentors, teachers, or examples to follow. One or another of the saints suffered every mundane and dramatic trial, insult, weakness, that any of us can face. Those lives become our consolation and our blueprints for coping. In short, since I became Catholic, I no longer feel lost or alone.