Intercession by Caleb Kay

In several religious traditions, saints and holy persons are said to mediate God‘s graces to other living people and to souls in the afterlife. This is called intercession, and those mediating God’s graces may, themselves, intercede in this life or in the afterlife.

In Catholicism, intercession takes the form of vocal or contemplative prayer, although the latter is often seen as deeper and more effective.

Contemplative prayer is classified as a type of mental prayer. The word mental doesn’t mean “nuts” or “flaky,” as in everyday English usage. Instead, it signifies a quiet inward prayer that benefits self and others.

This type of contemplation benefits self because the person praying relates with God in an extremely personal, intimate and heartfelt manner. And it benefits others because purifying graces from God mystically pass through the mediator toward others in need of divine assistance.

According to this belief, the unifying factor among intercessor and the recipients of grace is that which Catholics call the mystical body of Christ.

Contemplative intercessors are usually believed to be more spiritually aware and pure than intercessees. To borrow from Plato‘s cave analogy, the dynamic could be viewed as follows: One who has dug their way out of a deep, dark cave shines a light down from above to try to help those still lost and struggling in the underground depths.

As with this analogy, many lost in the depths don’t know they are lost. So a recipient of graces from the prayer of intercession may be totally unaware that another person intercedes for them. Moreover, if the intercessor is still living in this world and the person being assisted has a dark or unsettled soul, the latter may despise and even become aggressive or abusive toward the former.¹

Taking all this popular wisdom at face value, it seems likely that intercession isn’t  just a one way street. Most of us probably intercede for one another, and at different times throughout the day. This dynamic relationship arguably involves a complex interplay of higher and lower personality traits and influences that are activated in daily life and throughout human history.

¹ In some instances it’s conceivable that the abuse may become systemic, where a potential saint is psychologically and physically harmed by any paradigmatic practice which has little or no appreciation for the subtle – but arguably no less essential – dynamics of the spiritual life.

Related Posts » Aurobindo (Sri), Cave Analogy, Celibacy, Faith and Action, Individuation ProcessKarma Transfer, Kowalska (St. Faustina, Maria Helena), Mental Illness, Ramakrishna (Sri), Saint, Social Darwinism, Theresa of Avila (St.)


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