DAILY CATHOLIC    MONDAY     March 15, 1999     vol. 10, no. 51


To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO and SECTION THREE
          Pat Ludwa, a committed lay Catholic from Cleveland, has been asked to contribute, on a regular basis, a lay person's point of view on the Church today. We have been impressed with his insight and the clear logic he brings to the table from his "view from the pew." In all humility, by his own admission, he feels he has very little to offer, but we're sure you'll agree with us that his viewpoint is exactly what millions of the silent majority of Catholics believe and have been trying to say as well. Pat puts it in words that help all of us better understand and convey to others what the Church teaches and we must believe.

          Today, he debunks the premise offered by non-Catholics that we shouldn't pray to saints because they're dead and pray only to Jesus. Pat reminds all that the Triune Divinity has established the Communion of Saints composed of the living Church on earth, known as the Church Militant and those who have passed on - the souls who have yet to be purified in the Church Suffering in Purgatory and those who have achieved their eternal reward in Heaven as the Church Triumphant. It is to these Christ directs us to take as our examples and lean on them for their prayers and intercession.

It's good to have friends in high places!

      Here's a couple of things to consider this Lent. Imagine you wanted to get a position in a certain company. You have a relative who works there. He can not only put in a good word for you, he can also help you do what you need to get that job. (It's who you know that gets you the job, it's what you know that keeps it") How foolish would you be to say you don't need, or want, his help?

      Consider you're trying to build a house but you're looking for advice on how to proceed. It would be foolish to reject the person who has 'been there' and 'done that'.

      Or imagine you come home to introduce the person you love and are going to marry to your parents. And when you do, you tell them, "I don't love you any more because I love him/her."

      Or imagine someone telling you that you can't love and honor your mother and father because ALL love and honor are the Lord's! You'd, hopefully, say that it was ridiculous.

      Yet many, essentially do this.

      We often forget to 'tap' the 'family' relationship of the Church of God. Remember, the Church doesn't just mean those of us still here on earth. Like any 'family' we interact with each other.

      St. Paul asked for the prayers of the Church: "Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving; and pray for us also, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ" (Colossians 4:2-3).

      The entire Church prayed for St. Peter. "So Peter was kept in prison; but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church" (Acts 12:5).

      Ah!!!, some will note, but this is the 'living' in the Church, not the dead. What dead? "have you not read what was said to you by God, 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not God of the dead, but of the living" (Matthew 22:31-32). I am the God of Abraham, not I 'was' the God of Abraham.

      "Your father Abraham rejoiced that he was to see My day; he saw it and was glad" (John 8:56). Abraham 'saw' His day.

      "And He was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and His garments became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with Him" (Matt. 17:2-3). Moses and Elijah are so 'alive' that Peter even asks whether he should set up a tent for them.

      In fact, this notion of once you're dead, you're dead, is unique to the Sadducees (and other modern 'churches') In fact, Christ's response of "I am the God of Abraham" etc. is directed at the Sadducees. "and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:26).

      If we live in Christ, we are more alive when we shake off this mortal coil than now. In fact, there are those who, though walking about and speaking with us, are deader than a rock.

      When we enter into Heaven, before the Ultimate Love, the Perfect Love, our love is perfected, not diminished. It isn't "I have mine, and I don't care about anything more." That would not be love. So it is logical that those 'alive' with Christ in Heaven are still with us, still 'connected' with us in faith and love.

      "But all honor and love belongs to God and God alone!", some may argue. True, to a point. If we take the statement at face value, then God is a hypocrite since He tells us that all love and honor belong to Him alone (1st Commandment), but then also tells us to "Honor our father and mother"!!!

      Love isn't finite. Nor is it of one type. The love a husband has for his wife (or wife to husband) is different than the love he has toward his parents, and different still from the love he holds for his children.

      Do we dishonor our parents by loving our spouses? Do we dishonor our spouses by loving our children? Do we dishonor God by loving any of them?

      St. Thomas Aquinas tells us that the love and honor we owe to God and God alone is Latria. That honor we owe to the saints by virtue of their being 'friends' of Christ is dulia. And the honor we owe to the Blessed Virgin by virtue of her 'unique' role in God's plan of salvation is hyperdulia.

      That Christ gave us examples of faith to emulate is clearly Scriptural. "I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John (the Baptist)" (Luke 7:28). "When Jesus heard him (the Centurion), He marveled, and said to those who followed Him, 'Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.'" (Matthew 8:10).

      In fact, Scripture is full of people to emulate (from Abraham to St. Stephen) and who to not emulate (from Cain to Judas)

      "But Christ is to be our only 'example', our only role model." True, but often we find it hard to fit Christ's example to our life, so we turn to those who mirror our own life. For example, a lawyer may want to follow Christ, but may find it hard to find a way to do that. (Scribes, I believe were the closest thing to a lawyer in Christ' time and He wasn't too fond of many of them) Yet, he has the 'example' of St. Thomas More, lawyer and statesman, on how he followed Christ. And because they belong to the same Church, St. Thomas More can 'assist' that person by praying for and with him to God. (The relative putting in a good word).

      Whatever one's role in life, whatever one's 'sin', whatever one's characteristic, our Lord has 'friends' with Him in Heaven who can help us. God is the God of the living, not the dead. Just as we are 'in communion' with God by living by His commands and teachings, so we are 'in communion' with those who live with Him in paradise. Hence, we are one Church, Militant, Suffering, and Triumphant, with God as our one head. The Church is a 'Communion of Saints', living and (physically) dead.

    Pax Christi, Pat

March 15, 1999       volume 10, no. 51


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