Monday, May 09, 2011

How does Mary Hear Prayers?

On Catholic Answers Live, Jimmy Akin explains how Mary is aware of prayers:


Jimmy Akin: How does Mary Hear Prayer? (mp3)

If doctrine doesn't need to be grounded in Scripture, anything goes! Actually, Jimmy doesn't even bother to offer a Scripture, which in a way, is rather honest.

16 comments:

Jennie said...

Now I'm really confused. So God's omniscience is like a channel so Mary can hear people's prayers. But I thought Mary was like a channel through which people could reach God. Why would God send prayers to Mary if He's the one that's ultimately going to answer them? Or is He? Hmmmmm. I think Jimmy was talking off the top of his head, and maybe what came out was what he really believes: Mary is where the buck stops.

James Swan said...

Jennie,

I'm sure there are Roman Catholic writers that flesh out their position on this in much greater detail. Akin of course, is speaking unscripted on a live radio show.

On the other hand, it would not surprise me in the least to discover even those fleshed out positions arrive at your conclusion.

Peter Sean Bradley said...

Akins was simply restating a position held by many Christian theologians, including St. Augustine. Summa Theologica, Part I, Q. 89, article 8:

Gregory and Augustine, however, seem to be divided in opinion as regards the souls of the blessed in heaven, for Gregory continues the passage above quoted: "The case of the holy souls is different, for since they see the light of Almighty God, we cannot believe that external things are unknown to them." But Augustine (De Cura pro Mort. xiii) expressly says: "The dead, even the saints do not know what is done by the living or by their own children," as a gloss quotes on the text, "Abraham hath not known us" (Isaiah 63:16). He confirms this opinion by saying that he was not visited, nor consoled in sorrow by his mother, as when she was alive; and he could not think it possible that she was less kind when in a happier state; and again by the fact that the Lord promised to king Josias that he should die, lest he should see his people's afflictions (2 Kings 22:20). Yet Augustine says this in doubt; and premises, "Let every one take, as he pleases, what I say." Gregory, on the other hand, is positive, since he says, "We cannot believe." His opinion, indeed, seems to be the more probable one--that the souls of the blessed who see God do know all that passes here. For they are equal to the angels, of whom Augustine says that they know what happens among those living on earth. But as the souls of the blessed are most perfectly united to Divine justice, they do not suffer from sorrow, nor do they interfere in mundane affairs, except in accordance with Divine justice.

James Swan said...

Peter Sean Bradley said...
Akins was simply restating a position held by many Christian theologians, including St. Augustine. Summa Theologica, Part I, Q. 89, article 8:


Hi there- I had a few minutes to look up the text Aquinas cited from Augustine. I'm not sure you exactly understood what you quoted, particularly since you mentioned Augustine, as cited by Aquinas, saying the same as Akin.

As far as I can tell, the text of what Aquinas cited from Augustine is not what Mr. Akin is stating, but rather what Gregory is stating.

http://www.fourthcentury.com/on-the-care-of-the-dead/


Here's a breakdown:

1. Gregory and Augustine, however, seem to be divided in opinion as regards the souls of the blessed in heaven,

Two opinions, Gregory & Augustine.

2. for Gregory continues the passage above quoted: "The case of the holy souls is different, for since they see the light of Almighty God, we cannot believe that external things are unknown to them."

Gregory says the things going on one earth are known to the dead.

3.But Augustine (De Cura pro Mort. xiii) expressly says: "The dead, even the saints do not know what is done by the living or by their own children,"

The dead don't know what's going on on earth.

4. as a gloss quotes on the text, "Abraham hath not known us" (Isaiah 63:16).

Augustine says, "The great patriarchs were ignorant of the deeds done by the people whom they themselves had begotten, even though, because they believed in God, this people was promised to come from their own stock. If that is the case, how can the dead be involved so as to either know or help with the affairs and actions of the living?"

-continued-

James Swan said...

5.He confirms this opinion by saying that he was not visited, nor consoled in sorrow by his mother, as when she was alive; and he could not think it possible that she was less kind when in a happier state;

Augustine says, "If the souls of the dead could indeed involve themselves in the affairs of the living, and if it were really they themselves who are speaking to us when we see them in our sleep, I cannot speak for others, but my pious mother, who followed me over land and sea in order to live with me, would never miss a single night in visiting me. For it cannot be right that in a happier life she would have become crueler to such an extent that when any thing troubles my heart she no longer consoles the sad son whom she loved with a special love and whom she never wanted to see grieving."


6.and again by the fact that the Lord promised to king Josias that he should die, lest he should see his people's afflictions (2 Kings 22:20).

Augustine says, "What then would have been the great benefit in what God promised to that most godly king Josiah when he said that Josiah would die beforehand so that he would not have to see the evils which God threatened would come to that place and people?"


7. Yet Augustine says this in doubt; and premises, "Let every one take, as he pleases, what I say."

Augustine says, "Let each person accept what I am saying as it pleases him. If the souls of the dead could indeed involve themselves in the affairs of the living, and if it were really they themselves who are speaking to us when we see them in our sleep, I cannot speak for others, but my pious mother, who followed me over land and sea in order to live with me, would never miss a single night in visiting me."


8. Gregory, on the other hand, is positive, since he says, "We cannot believe." His opinion, indeed, seems to be the more probable one--that the souls of the blessed who see God do know all that passes here.

Aquinas goes with Gregory.

9. For they are equal to the angels, of whom Augustine says that they know what happens among those living on earth.

Augustine says the angles know what's happening on earth. Gregory holds those in heaven therefore are like the angels.

10.But as the souls of the blessed are most perfectly united to Divine justice, they do not suffer from sorrow, nor do they interfere in mundane affairs, except in accordance with Divine justice.

Aquinas, builds on Gregory's position, those in heaven do not sorrow, and only interfere in human affiars by God's will.

I don't claim to be any sort of expert on Augustine, but I simply don't see how Augusitne, being quoted by Aquinas, is what Akin is saying.

Peter Sean Bradley said...

Augustine, "On the Care of the Dead."

"18. So then we must confess that the dead indeed do not know what is happening in this life while it is taking place. Afterwards, however, they might hear of it from those who pass from here to there at their death; not indeed everything, but those things which they who are allowed to remember such things are permitted to make known – those things which it is proper for those they are informing to hear. It may be also, that the dead hear some things from the angels who are acting in what happens here, but he to whom all is subject judges what it is proper for each one of them to hear."

Cf. Aquinas, ST, Part I, Question Q. 89, a. 8, reply to objection 1:

The souls of the departed may care for the living, even if ignorant of their state; just as we care for the dead by pouring forth prayer on their behalf, though we are ignorant of their state. Moreover, the affairs of the living can be made known to them not immediately, but the souls who pass hence thither, or by angels and demons, or even by "the revelation of the Holy Ghost," as Augustine says in the same book.

Again, Akin was merely restating what many Christians, including Augustine - and as you concede, Gregory and Aqinas - have said in the past.

The point of your post confuses me.

1. Do you believe that it is impossible for angels or God to inform "separated souls" of the prayers of the living?

2. Do you have an opinion as to whether angels can hear or prayers and relay them to God, and, if so, how do they "hear" our prayers?

3. Is it your belief that "separated souls" have all the capacities of memory, reason, imagination as they did when embodied?

Peter Sean Bradley said...

Jennie,

Now I'm really confused. So God's omniscience is like a channel so Mary can hear people's prayers. But I thought Mary was like a channel through which people could reach God. Why would God send prayers to Mary if He's the one that's ultimately going to answer them?

The answer is "the communion of saints."

The communion of saints probably isn't necessary, but it seems to be something that God thought was a good idea

kaycee said...

How does Mary hear prayers?

She doesn't. Matt 6:9 Pray, then, in this way: 'Our Father who is in heaven

James Swan said...

kaycee said...
How does Mary hear prayers?

She doesn't. Matt 6:9 Pray, then, in this way: 'Our Father who is in heaven


Well stated.

James Swan said...

Peter Sean Bradley said... The point of your post confuses me.

OK, let me try to restate the point.

1. As far as I can ascertain your actions, you left an Aquinas quote on this blog entry highlighting the fact that Augustine's position on praying to the dead was the same as Jimmy Akin's.

2. I went through the entire quote, demonstrating the quote you used does no such thing.

3. Moral of the story: read a quote before posting it, to make sure it says what you think it does.

Peter Sean Bradley said...

Mr. Swan,

I appreciate your advice, but I am wondering about why your tone appears - to me, at least - to be so strident.

Let me correct you in a couple in a couple of regards.

1. What I actually said was that "Akins simply restating a position held by many Christian theologians, including St. Augustine."

It appears obvious in light of our interchange - which started from the quote I cited - and read down just a little bit more in the Summa - that I was entirely correct. On which point, I note that you don't disagree with my substantive point.

Your response appears to designed to take the attention away from the substance of my point and make it "procedural," i.e., did I read the entire source before posting?

The answer is that I did, which is why I was able to correct your misimpression as quickly as I did.

2. Your "breakdown" of the quotation was quite excellent so far as it went, something which I've admitted on my blog. The problem is that you've misunderstood the dispute between Augustine and Gregory by reading it through a post-reformation lense.

The issue was not whether the "separated souls" in the beatific vision could know of the prayers of the faithful. Both Gregory and Augustine believed they could. Rather, the issue was whether in the beatific vision, "separated souls" would know of all things that happened on Earth by their direct vision of God as an ordinary aspect of being in the beatific vision. Gregory said "yes," and Augustine said "no."

Augustine said "no" for the reason that you've noted, namely that if they did, then they would be constantly involved in human affairs. Augustine therefore said that the knowledge of earthly affairs was regulated by God. Gregory's position was that although the "separated souls" in the beatific vision did know of human affairs as an ordinary matter of the beatific vision, their participation in human affairs was limited by God.

Aquinas sides with Gregory on that for a couple of reasons. First, he notes that Augustine is simply expressing an tentative opinion. Second, he analogizes the "separated souls" in the beatific vision to the angels, both of whom receive their knowledge through God. [For the explanation on that you would have to go to Question 58 of the Summa.] Since Augustine says that "separated souls" in Heaven are not inferior to the angels, Aquinas takes Augustine at his word and says that they have the same kind of knowledge.

The reason, incidentally, that I recognized Akins as "simply restating a position held by many Christian theologians, including St. Augustine" is that I've worked my way through major texts of both. There are many terms that someone who hasn't might glance over without realizing their significance, such as "separated souls."

I appreciate your comment, though, inasmuch as it gave me an opportunity to dig deeper into Augustine's position on this subject.

If you have an interest in answering my questions, I'd be interested in reading your responses.

Peter Sean Bradley said...

In addition, please allow me to a misimpression you may have about my first comment.

I fully understood the point of your comment. That's why I responded to it and offered your a fuller context from "On the Care of the Dead" to help you with your understanding of Augustine.

What I was - and still am - puzzled about is the purpose of your post - the original post that leads off this comment string.

That's why I asked the questions I did. Namely, do you think that God cannot provide information to souls separated from their body who are in the beatific vision? Do you think that such souls have their exising bodily senses? Do you think that such souls have communication with each other? Do angels participate in the knowledge of God by virtue of their participation in the beatific vision?

I apologize if my use of the term "post" for "the post" and the questions that I asked were not sufficiently clear to alert you to my confusion as to your "post" about Akins, which, to be entirely fair to me, was the subject of my comment.

Rhology said...

What I was - and still am - puzzled about is the purpose of your post

I can tell you with confidence that at least part of the purpose is to point out the continued, stubborn insistence on blasphemous practices such as talking to dead people that persist in the Church of Rome.


Namely, do you think that God cannot provide information to souls separated from their body who are in the beatific vision?

Yes, He can. He can do lots of things that He doesn't do.
This is the same question as "Why do you think God couldn't use evolution to bring about life as we know it today?"
And the answer is the same - He could have, sure, but there's no evidence for it, much against it, and the Bible condemns it.
So I'm not sure why the question was asked.

James Swan said...

It appears obvious in light of our interchange - which started from the quote I cited - and read down just a little bit more in the Summa - that I was entirely correct. On which point, I note that you don't disagree with my substantive point. Your response appears to designed to take the attention away from the substance of my point and make it "procedural," I.e., did I read the entire source before posting?

As far as I can tell, you didn't quote the correct section of Aquinas, so I had to go track down Augustine, and work through your quote to figure out why you posted it. That sort of tedium bothers me, because when I leave quotes in comment boxes, I make sure I've left the correct quote.

If you scroll back up through these comments, you'll notice even before your initial post, I stated, "I'm sure there are Roman Catholic writers that flesh out their position on this in much greater detail. Akin of course, is speaking unscripted on a live radio show." So, whatever you cite, really doesn't effect anything I've written.

do you think that God cannot provide information to souls separated from their body who are in the beatific vision? Do you think that such souls have their existing bodily senses? Do you think that such souls have communication with each other? Do angels participate in the knowledge of God by virtue of their participation in the beatific vision?

It's not meaningless to ask these speculative questions, but these questions become meaningless if they're being asked or explored in order to support an unbiblical doctrine.

Since Romanists import a false doctrine of prayers to the dead, they feel it's appropriate then to discern how the dead hear or gain the knowledge of those prayers. If the preceding notion of praying to the dead is false, any discussion on how Mary hears the prayer of people on Earth becomes... speculations on something meaningless.

Kaycee above made an excellent point. The Bible does indeed teach on how to pray: Matt 6:9 Pray, then, in this way: 'Our Father who is in heaven.

By the way, Jimmy Akin prays to his deceased wife in Purgatory. Now... where's that in the Bible?

James Swan said...

I can tell you with confidence that at least part of the purpose is to point out the continued, stubborn insistence on blasphemous practices such as talking to dead people that persist in the Church of Rome.

Agreed.

Lvka said...

Angels take our prayers up to God (Revelation 8:3-4, echoing Tobit 12:12-15), so they are obviously not unaware of their content. By extension, neither are the other heavenly spirits, those of the redeemed saints.