Defending the Glory of God
Theological: Adding or Subtracting from the Glory of God ?
3. Theological overview:
“After all,” the Protestant may say, “Don’t you Catholics believe that Jesus is God and if He is God is that not enough for you ? Are you saying that somehow the Saints make up for what Jesus Christ lacks ? Aren’t you then trying to add to what Christ does ?”
“Doesn’t focusing on the Saints distract from the Greatness and the Glory of God who alone is to be adored ? Does this devotion to the Saints subtract from what Christ did ?”
We worship God and only God.
The questions above in this section might not be expressed and or even be explicitly thought out, however even if a person is intuitively embracing them even in a fuzzy sort of way then these issues have to be clearly stated and answered. As long as one’s objections stay on a fuzzy or emotional level they will not be adequately dealt with.
When we look at the role God has given to Mary for our salvation we should not see it as a question or a choice of either Jesus or Mary. The answer is JESUS, JESUS, JESUS. And how Jesus works through Mary, and how Jesus enables Mary to do truly good works. These good works that Mary, and the other saints, do are done in and through Jesus Christ.
So, how are we to understand the good things that we or the Saints do ? Does the credit belong solely to ourselves ? Some holy Christians summed up the principles involved as to how we can do good things as follows:
“If anyone asserts that we can, by our natural powers, think as we ought, or choose any good pertaining to the salvation of eternal life . . . without the illumination and inspiration of the Holy Spirit . . . he is misled by a heretical spirit . . . [it goes on to cite Jn 15:5, and 2 Cor 3:5]
“That grace is not preceded by merit. Recompense is due to good works if they are performed; but grace, to which we have no claim, precedes them, to enable them to be done.”
“That a man can do no good without God. God does much that is good in a man that the man does not do; but a man does nothing good for which God is not responsible, so as to let him do it.
“We also believe and confess to our benefit that in every good work it is not we who take the initiative and are then assisted through the mercy of God, but God himself first inspires in us both faith in him and love for him…”
[The Catholic Church’s Second Council of Orange, 529 A.D. Canons 7, 18, 20, and the Conclusion]
God is the source of all that is good. Therefore, the goodness that is within us is not something that we have created; rather it is the goodness, or grace, that we have opened ourselves up to receive from God. And so, the goodness within the Saints in Heaven neither adds to the glory of God, nor does it subtract from the glory of God because it is precisely God’s glory being manifested within them because they freely choose [with the help of God’s grace] to co-operate with it, to receive it, and to act in conjunction with it. The good works that the saints do are done in and through Jesus Christ. [Ephesians 2:10, John 6:28-29]
So, it is not a question of needing more than what God does, but one of desiring *all* that God does and all that He wants to do for us. If we do not desire all the help that God wants to send to us then we have to ask ourselves, “Is it God that we are truly desiring ?”
wants to help us through Saint Matthew, Saint Mark, Saint Luke,
Saint John, and Saint Paul. And He also wants to help us
through the Bible publisher across town, the Bible preacher down
the street, our friendly neighbors, our physical families and
our spiritual brothers and sisters, and especially those Saints
whose help has been purified in heaven. Cf.
God Is Not Petty
The pagans often attributed to their gods various human weaknesses and even sins. It is very important that we not do that to the One True God because He is All Powerful and All Good. When the Bible speaks about God as being a jealous God it is not the type of petty jealously that man in his weakness sometimes falls into. God is never petty. Nor, is God offended when we pay attention to or when we love someone else. He even commands that we do. Mark 12:29-31. When the Bible speaks of God’s “jealousness” it is always in the context of how he does not want us to place anyone above Him or to worship anyone else but Him. God does not have a petty jealousy. He is like the artist who is glad for us to notice the goodness that He does in and through others.
Do the prayers of the Saints distract from the work of Christ ? No. On the contrary, they demonstrate and help explain who Jesus Christ is, and what He is doing through them, and what it means to follow Him.
The Saints and their example point us to Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:1
“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”