A year long study of Catholic apologetics lead me to many questions about the saints and their activity in our lives today.
Growing up Protestant this is not an area we ever delve into as it is consider heretical. What I came to know is that the Catholic teaching on the saints is overblown and somewhat misunderstood. The place that this study took me is far from where I thought it would. It lead me to understand the term coined by GK Chesterton, "The Democracy of the Dead".
What is beautiful about many of the beliefs and traditions of Catholicism is that they are built on scripture. One may interpret the scripture differently, but then he is free to do so, the big question for me is always whether or not you are using scripture to support Truth. That's at least a good starting point.
In the book of Revelations we have this amazing picture of the 12 saints around the throne and they are laying the prayers of the faithful at the feet of Christ. this alone is enough for me to understand the "reverence" given to saints in Catholicism and enough for me to allow them the freedom to pray to a saint with the understanding it is delivered in the name of Christ to the foot of the throne. Any learned Catholic would support this scriptural view. To not lend them the ability to offer this interpretation is to steal our own ability to attribute many truths to areas like Romans 8.
In Catholic theology you will not find idol saints or worshiped saints, but revered saints. This is an important distinction, in addition, we protestants continue to allow the saints to speak to us and we revere their words as we view their words as scripture.
The saints are alive and well with us today, as their words are alive and have an impetus on us daily. One could say, they have a vote in our daily lives when we study their words and examples.
The dead get a vote in our actions today. This is true not only with spiritual matters but with philosophy, politics and beyond.
Rousseau has a say in American politics today. Socrates speaks to the way we view ourselves. Darwin talks into our view of science. Alexander votes on our approach to war. The dead are very much alive and voting on events in society today. The major issue is that few know or understand the root of belief, politics, philosophy and beyond because they refuse to read the people of the past. If we would look into historical votes we may well have chosen different paths knowing their choices failed, or have over time revealed major flaws.
How many people do you know that have read: Marx, Hitler, Descartes, Milton, Clement, or Plato? Have you? Without reading the ancients it's hard to know the flaws of your world view or politics, or to be able to pinpoint potential problems in the political philosophies of others. Without studying the ancients it is also difficult to offer any support of where your beliefs come from and their truths. With a dedicated study of the ancients you can immediately identify problems or solutions and you will always be saying to yourself, "Seen this before".
Every time I sit through a sermontainment I hear the words of Elton Trueblood from 1954 calling for change.
Whenever I watch a news report of evangelist and jet planes I hear the great Anthony calling for change.
Whenever I struggle with my faith I hear Socrates calling me to "know thyself".
Whenever I hear Hilary Clinton I see Rousseau rising from the words and I see nothing but a failed experiment.
You will find only .005% of Protestants that know any church history prior to Luther or Calvin. You will find even fewer Protestants that can tell you the full spectrum of the beliefs of Luther or Calvin. In addition, you'll find few Catholics that can speak to their theology or name the contributions of various Popes.
The saints, philosophers, politicians, warriors of the past are voting in society today and we are unaware that their democracy is alive and well.
The dead have planted seeds in our society. Better to know the root. Better to decide when we agree or disagree with their vote.
Scripture speaks of a great cloud of witnesses and this also has been interpreted in a variety of ways.
There is a great cloud of witnesses that have cast their votes in the words they wrote and the lives they lead. Read and encounter the democracy of the dead
"To understand the living, you've got to commune with the dead"- Minerva from "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil"