The Christian Heritage Centre

08 February 2024

Saint Thomas Aquinas on "Intercession" - Year of Prayer 2024

By Joey Belleza, PhD (Cantab.)

The fourth part of prayer according to Saint Thomas Aquinas is intercession. This first of all acknowledges that prayer cannot be a singular conversation between me and God, rooted in a mere “personal relationship” with the Lord and divorced from the community of believers. Rather, intercession acknowledges the shared fraternity of the entire people of God. Christ’s command to the disciples to love one another is to be taken seriously, and this mandate is fulfilled every time we pray with and for one another. Thus the petitions which we mentioned in the previous reflection cannot only express personal desires; they must be ultimately be directed to the good of our family, our friends, and the whole Christian community at large.

Moreover, this notion of community extends beyond the Church here on earth; it also extends to the Holy Souls in purgatory, as well as to the angels and saints in heaven. Thus we are called to pray for the faithful departed, that their temporary purgation might soon end; then, with the saints and angels, they will be able to go directly before the Lord’s presence and intercede for us here on earth. This is why the Church has always promoted the veneration of saints, knowing that their prayers rise with great efficacy before the throne of God, because their merits—which are the merits of Christ—redound to our benefit here on earth. Prayer cannot be merely personal, but must participate in the unified cry of praise to the God who made all things.

This is illustrated concretely through the chanting of the Litany of the Saints in the Church’s most solemn occasions. At baptisms, at ordinations, at the Easter Vigil, at the transfer of a deceased pope’s body to Saint Peter’s Basilica, at his funeral, and at the Installation Mass of his successor, the Litany of the Saints summons the entire host of heaven to the Church’s aid. In moments of joy and in moments of morning, we beg the saints for their prayers, knowing that they who now live in perfect communion with Christ are heard by him. Thus, as we say in every Mass, with the angels, saints, and our brothers and sisters in Christ, “we join in their unending hymn of praise,” “for the praise and glory of God’s name, for our good and the good of all his holy Church.”

In the next reflection, we consider the Lord’s Prayer.

Click here to return to the Year of Prayer page.