Intercession and rational power

Catholics do a decent job seeing the saints as models, but a much poorer job of seeing them as intercessors. The occasional prayer to Anthony or Rita or Joseph is an outlier to a prayer life that mostly petitions God himself. Even where we appeal to the saints we seem to lack a compelling reason to do so: it’s not as if God is too distracted or overwhelmed, or he is too terrifying to approach, or he is less moved with compassion or pity for us than the saints.

The missing premise is that rational power by its nature seeks to diffuse itself as much as possible. God needs intercessors because the greater a power becomes the more it needs to diffuse itself and empower others. The intercession of the saints fails to make sense to us only so far as we fall prey to a perverse notion of power as what desires to centralize itself, concentrate itself, and extend the broadest possible radius from the smallest possible center. This is certainly a wonderful vision of power for Versailles monarchs, modern Nation States and Communist vanguard parties, but it is utterly incompatible with the intercession of the saints or even with divine creation being anything but a purely arbitrary showing-off.



  1. Zippy said,

    April 5, 2016 at 4:10 pm

    Spiritual subsidiarity.

  2. robalspaugh said,

    April 5, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    It’s always impressive to watch parents rule the house by having their children of various ages accomplish most things. Those parents are seriously in charge.

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