Prayer is Not Worship: Saintly Intercession

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Archangel Raphael & Tobias. Girolamo Savoldo, c. 1500

Prayer is not worship. Worship is a subset of prayer. Worship, properly speaking, entails sacrifice, a gift of something precious to honour the deity worshipped. The Mass is the one and only perfect sacrifice, offered by God on behalf of man. With the Mass, the Hebrew sacrifices of animals and crops, and the pagan sacrifices of people, animals, food, and other items, should have ended.

Archangel Raphael & Tobias. Girolamo Savoldo, c. 1500
Archangel Raphael & Tobias. Girolamo Savoldo, c. 1500

The word “prayer” comes from the Latin precari,to ask earnestly, beg, entreat.” In common parlance, this can be seen in the phrase “Pray tell me…”. Just as we ask our family and friends on Earth to pray with us and for us to God, Who alone can answer our prayers, so do we ask our family and friends in Heaven to pray for us. They are completely united with God – how much more efficacious are the prayers of a just man (James 5:16).

The saints, or holy ones, in Heaven are fully alive and awake, contrary to some Protestant interpretations of scripture. We know this from the miracles worked through their intercession – at least two certified miracles are required before someone is canonised, or officially recognised by the Church as a Saint for universal veneration. Moreover, Scripture tells us: “…we also having so great a cloud of witnesses over our head, laying aside every weight and sin which surrounds us, let us run by patience to the fight proposed to us…” (Hebrews 12:1). The word martyr comes from the Greek martus, meaning witness. The saints have witnessed to their faith in Christ by their lives; they’re standing at the finish line cheering us on through our earthly pilgrimage. As marathon runners accept bottles of water from onlookers, let us accept the heavenly aid of the saints.

My mission – to make God loved – will begin after my death. I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. I will let fall a shower of roses.
St Thérèse of Lisieux

St Thérèse of Lisieux
photograph taken by Fr. Lawrence Lew, OP, at the Royal English College of Valladolid, Spain.
Jean Elizabeth Seah

Jean Elizabeth Seah

Jean Elizabeth Seah is a law and liberal arts graduate. She has had several adventures with Our Lord and Our Lady, including running away to join a convent after law school. The journey is tough and the path ahead is foggy, but she knows that as long as you hold firmly onto Our Lady’s hand, you’ll make it through! She also writes at

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2 thoughts on “Prayer is Not Worship: Saintly Intercession”

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    Someday write also about non Mass worship. If one is carrying his or her cross, then they are sacrificing non-cross alternatives to carrying their cross. If we are a priestly people who share in the priesthood of Christ although not identically to a priest of our parish, then we are worshipping whenever we are sacrificing…be it alms giving or abstaining from a favorite food or drink…or attending to a difficult relative and thus sacrificing pleasurable time.

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