The State of Virginity

The State of Virginity
I should like you to be free of all worries. The unmarried man is busy with the Lord's affairs, concerned with pleasing the Lord; but the married man is busy with this world's demands and occupied with pleasing his wife. This means he is divided. The virgin - indeed, any unmarried woman - is concerned with things of the Lord, in pursuit of holiness in body and spirit. The married woman, on the other hand, has the cares of this world to absorb her and concerned with pleasing her husband. I am going into this with you for your own good. I have no desire to place restrictions on you, but I do want to promote what is good, what will help you to devote yourselves entirely to the Lord. 1 Corinthians 7:32-35

Sunday, February 21, 2010

WHAT IS SO WRONG ABOUT PRAYING TO THE SAINTS?

Not so long ago in the distant past, I had a heated argument with a Christian friend of mine about the issue of praying to saints. I don't quite remember which church she belongs to. This is because the name of this church is somewhat rather obscure and uncommon. Certainly not the Methodist Church. Neither is it the Anglican nor the Lutheran Church as far as I can remember. In Malaysia, anyone can rent a flat or a shop lot and call it a church and then call himself a pastor. And she belongs to this kind of church.

What did she say that started the argument? Well, she said that Mary and the saints are just human beings like us and there is no reason why we should worship them. She also said that Mary is not a virgin and that she also has other children. Her duty is to give birth to Jesus and that's all. She then said that her church is genuine because they pray in tongues. How childish and ignorant of her to say all these!

It seems that many non-Catholics still do not understand that we do not worship Mary and the saints. We only pray to them. It should be noted that 'worship' and 'pray' are not the same. True worship belongs to God alone. We do not worship the saints. Why do we pray to the saints? We pray to the saints to ask them for help, for their intercession on our behalf and to thank them for helping us. Praying to saints is just like talking to someone who is very dear to us. I am sure that some of you would talk to your dead grandmother and ask for her blessings even though she is not a saint. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Perfectly normal, I would say. In the Chinese community, there are people who like to buy lots of lottery tickets because they are so desperate to strike it rich and very often they would ask their ancestors to give them four digit numbers in their dreams. And of course there were instances when these numbers appeared to them in their dreams!

Now to answer the question that my Christian friend asked, "Why don't you pray directly to God. Why should you ask someone else to intercede for you?" Of course we do pray to God directly but we also pray for each other and surely there is nothing wrong asking the saints to pray for us. It is just like having another member of our church to pray for us. The saints are our friends and they will gladly help us if we ask them to intercede for us. Why do I say that the saints are our friends? Because they really are. I have prayed to St. Anthony for so many years and I find that he is always there whenever I need him. Hours before I boarded the plane to Lourdes in May 2008, I lost my keys. But I wasn't worried. I prayed to St. Anthony and somehow I got the feeling that my keys would be found on time. And I did find my keys on time! A few days ago, I lost my driving licence. I prayed to St. Anthony calmly knowing that it would be found and not long after my prayers, I found my driving licence in a very unexpected place.

I have been praying to Father Damien even before he was canonized in 2009. Why do I pray to him? Because he is a very holy man. Because he is like a friend to me - a friend whom I adore, love, respect and honour. In fact, I am so used to him that I just couldn't help feeling his intense presence in my life. Yes, he is there and I am glad that I have a good friend like him. Through him, I found a lot of inspiration and encouragement. To a greater or lesser extent, he does have an influence in my life.

Since I came back from Medjugorje, I have been praying to Father Slavko Barbaric too. Or to be more exact, I like to talk to him and for a long, long time too. Why do I pray/talk to him? He is not a saint yet. Because he is a priest who lived a very holy life. Because of his sacrifices for the Church. Because he is a very unique and yet adorable person. The truth is, you can only pray to someone who is good because you know that he will help you. And you can only pray to someone whom you love and respect. And this is what Father Slavko is all about. And he will always live in my heart.

The apparitions of the Mother of God are nothing new and we all know that She does visit the earth and that Her visits are often followed by many miracles. In Lourdes, Medjugorje amd Fatima, just to mention a few of the places that She has visited, many miraculous healings have occurred and these cannot be contested. What do these apparitions signify? The Mother of God is real. The Catholic Church is real. Can we say that She is human like us? Well, can we perform miracles like Her? Are we as holy as Her? To say that Her duty is to give birth to Jesus and nothing more reminds me of what the old-fashioned mother-in-laws used to do in the old cantonese movies. These irrational old ladies have the habit of taking away the baby (their grandchild) and dumping their daughter-in-law. What a pitiful sight! If we respect Jesus, we should also respect His Mother. Let us not be so inhuman as to take Jesus away from His Mother and then dump His Mother.

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