Ask Intercession of Saints
Asking for Mary's intercession...
It is a natural instinct for a child to turn to his mother in times of trouble or distress. It is this instinct in the heart of a child of God that urges a Catholic to turn toward the Mother of the Church. In every age in the history of the church, people have sought out the aide of Mary when desiring to grow closer to her Son. Mary's role in the church comes from her union with her son. "This union of the mother with the Son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ's virginal conception up to his death." (Lumen Gentium, 57). Following the Ascension of her Jesus, Mary remained with the disciples in prayer. As Mother of the Church, Mary continues to intercede with her Son on behalf of all those who seek her intercession.
People have sought Mary to be an advocate, a helper, a mediator and so the Church has given Mary titles such as "Lady Help of Christians," "Advocate and Guide," and "Mother of the Church." These titles remind us that in heaven she continues to share her maternal role on behalf of all Christians (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 975).
A beautiful prayer that summarizes this belief of Mary as intercessor is the Litany of Loreto, approved in 1587 by Pope Sixtus V. The Litany ends with this prayer:
Asking for saints to intercede for us...
Each time the creed is prayed, a Catholic professes "I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints…" When Catholics speak about the church, it includes not only those living on earth but also those in heaven. In the celebration of Mass, we are united with the saints, joined in prayer with all those living and those who have died. All of us are members of the body of Christ. Because the saints are living with the Lord, they can, like Mary, continue to serve the church by acting as intercessors. We, living on earth, can seek their prayers and aid as we strive to be faithful disciples.
It is the tradition of the Church to identify some saints with a particular grace for certain needs. For example, there is a long tradition of asking for the intercession of Saint Jude during situations that seem hopeless, or more recently asking St. Gianna Beretta Molla for her intercession for sick children or couples hoping to become pregnant. In this way we feel a closer bond to the saints as real members of the Catholic family who not only show us how to live lives of holiness while on earth, but stay united to us in heaven.
The picture above is called L'innocence and was painted by William-Adolphe Bouguereau in 1893.