From Fr. Streitenberger

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Continuing my series on prayer, I would like to address several common questions about prayer and meditation. First, who are we praying to? The simple answer is God, but that would really rob us of the richness of our Catholic and human experience. As I see it, the question is dealing with two questions: What Person of the Trinity should we address our prayers to? And, what about devotion to Our Lady and the Saints and our prayer life? The English word, prayer, is used to describe both our worship of God and our devotion to the saints. The Tradition distinguishes latria or worship, which is due to God alone, with dulia, which is the respect or honor we show Mary and the saints by asking them for their intercession to God for us. Hyperdulia specifically refers to our devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary because she is the greatest of all saints and is our mother. Our acts of devotion to the saints and Mary are not worship. Worship is due to God alone; our devotion to the saints is an asking of our brothers and sisters in Christ, who are in Heaven, to pray for our intentions before the face of God. Following the example of St. Paul (Rom 15:30, Col 4:3, 1 Thes 5:25, 2 Th 1:11; 2 Th 3:1; Eph 6:18-19), we know the importance of praying for each other. That relationship does not end with death because of the promise of Easter. Mary and the saints are in the presence of God and are of any value because of God’s grace. Therefore, our devotion to them does not take away from God but adds to His glory. When Our Lady is praised by St. Elizabeth at the visitation, Mary automatically begins to praise God in her prayer, the Magnificat. This is precisely how our devotion works. Mary and the saints automatically return it to God with our petitions. So, at times we may specifically turn to Our Mother in the order of grace or one of the saints just as we turn to our earthly parents, siblings, or friends when we are in need of support.

In Jesus through Mary,
Fr. Adam Streitenberger