Recently I asked if theology were a branch of philosophy, and was encouraged by Dr. Stairs to ask my question.
If we are told in Christian (Catholic at least) faith that God is the only One True God and we should not pray to any other God except Her/Him/It, then how come (in some branches) we can pray to saints or to Mary, and not be committing idolatry?
One answer I've heard is that we do not "pray" to them so much as we ask them to intercede for us on our behalf....I don't know though, that sounds forced.
The question of whether this sounds forced or not is a hard one to make a judgment about, but the answer, as I understand it, is pretty much the one you've heard. If one prays to a saint, one is asking the saint to intercede; not to perform the miracle. Although we might say loosely that a saint "performed a miracle," the saint has no powers over nature of his/her own and if a miracle occurs, the source of the miracle is God. This isn't to suggest that your question is a bad one. Why bother, one might ask, with this circuitous route? After all, God (assuming there is a God) hears the prayer, knows what the petitioner want, and grants the request or not—even if the petitioner addressed the request to a saint. Perhaps a panelist with a deeper understanding of Catholic tradition can chime in, but Catholicism has a genius for appealing to the religious imagination of its adherents. And since religion is at least as much a matter of the heart as of the mind, one can imagine an argument to the effect that...