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The Early Church Fathers on Intercession of the Saints - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
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Posted on 02/08/2007 2:23:22 PM PST by NYer

The Early Church Fathers believed that the saints in heaven could be asked to pray for those of us still on earth.

Origen

But not the high priest [Christ] alone prays for those who pray sincerely, but also the angels... as also the souls of the saints who have already fallen asleep (On Prayer II [A.D. 233]).

Pectorius

Aschandius, my father, dearly beloved of my heart, with my sweet mother and my brethren, remember your Pectorius in the peace of the Fish [Christ] (Epitaph [A.D. 250]).

Cyprian

Let us remember one another in concord and unanimity. Let us on both sides always pray for one another. Let us relieve burdens and afflictions by mutual love, that if one of us, by the swiftness of divine condescension, shall go hence the first, our love may continue in the presence of the Lord, and our prayers for our brethren and sisters not cease in the presence of the Father's mercy (Letters 56[60]:5 [A.D. 252]).

Anonymous

Atticus, sleep in peace, secure in your safety, and pray anxiously for our sins (funerary inscription near St. Sabina's in Rome [A.D. 300]).

Anonymous

Pray for your parents, Matronata Matrona. She lived one year, fifty-two days (ibid.).

Cyril of Jerusalem

Then [during the Eucharistic prayer] we make mention also of those who have already fallen asleep: first, the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, that through their prayers and supplications God would receive our petition... (Catechetical Lectures 23:9 [A.D. 350]).

Anonymous

Mother of God, [listen to] my petitions; do not disregard us in adversity, but rescue us from danger (Rylands Papyrus 3 [A.D. 350]).

Hilary of Poitiers

To those who would fain to stand, neither the guardianship of saints nor the defenses of angels are wanting (Commentary on the Psalms 124:5:6 [A.D. 365]).

Ephraem of Syria

Remember me, you heirs of God, you brethren of Christ; supplicate the Savior earnestly for me, that I may be freed through Christ from him that fights against me day by day (De Timore, Anim. in fin. [A.D. 370]).

Liturgy of St. Basil

By the command of your only-begotten Son we communicate with the memory of your saints . . . by whose prayers and supplications have mercy upon us all, and deliver us for the sake of your holy name (Liturgy of St. Basil [A.D. 373]).

Gregory Nazianzen

Yes, I am well assured that [my father's] intercession is of more avail now than was his instruction in former days, since he is closer to God, now that he has shaken off his bodily fetters, and freed his mind from the clay that obscured it, and holds conversation naked with the nakedness of the prime and purest mind . . . (Orations 18:4 [A.D. 374]).

May you [Cyprian] look down from above propitiously upon us, and guide our word and life; and shepherd this sacred flock . . . gladden the Holy Trinity, before which you stand (Orations 17 [24] [A.D. 376]),

Gregory of Nyssa

Do you, [Ephraem] that art standing at the divine altar . . . bear us all in remembrance, petitioning for us the remission of sins, and the fruition of an everlasting kingdom (Sermon on Ephraem the Syrian [A.D. 380]).

Ambrose of Milan

May Peter, who wept so efficaciously for himself, weep for us and turn towards us Christ's benign countenance (Hexameron 5:25:90 [A.D. 388]).

John Chrysostom

He that wears the purple . . . stands begging of the saints to be his patrons with God, and he that wears a diadem begs the tent-maker [Paul] and the fisherman [Peter] as patrons, even though they be dead" (Homilies on 2 Corinthians 26 [A.D. 392]).

When you perceive that God is chastening you, fly not to his enemies . . . but to his friends, the martyrs, the saints, and those who were pleasing to him, and who have great power [in God] (Orations 8:6 [A.D. 396]).

Augustine

A Christian people celebrate together in religious solemnity the memorials of the martyrs, both to encourage their being imitated and so that it can share in their merits and be aided by their prayers (Against Faustus the Manichean [A.D. 400]).


TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Orthodox Christian; Theology
KEYWORDS: catholic; intercession; saints
Please allow a few minutes to post the Scriptural Basis.
1 posted on 02/08/2007 2:23:28 PM PST by NYer
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To: Lady In Blue; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...

In keeping with guidelines posted by the Religion Moderator, we are posting this thread (and future ones) a series on the Early Church Fathers, as a Catholic/Orthodox Caucus. Protestants are welcome to post comments but restraint from attacks, would be appreciated. This thread is posted to inform, support and defend the historic orgins of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

2 posted on 02/08/2007 2:24:28 PM PST by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: NYer
Scriptural Basis



III. Specific Instructions to Mediate and Examples of Subordinate Mediation

New Testament

Matt. 5:44-45 - Jesus tells us to pray for (to mediate on behalf of) those who persecute us. God instructs us to mediate.

Matt. 17:1-3; Mark 9:4; Luke 9:30-31 – deceased Moses and Elijah appear at the Transfiguration to converse with Jesus in the presence of Peter, James and John (these may be the two “witnesses” John refers to in Rev. 11:3). Nothing in Scripture ever suggests that God abhors or cuts off communication between the living in heaven and the living on earth. To the contrary, God encourages communication within the communion of saints. Moses and Elijah’s appearance on earth also teach us that the saints in heaven have capabilities that far surpass our limitations on earth.

Matt. 26:53 – Jesus says He can call upon the assistance of twelve legions of angels. If Jesus said He could ask for the assistance of angel saints – and He obviously would not have been worshiping them in so doing – then so can we, who need their help infinitely more than Jesus, and without engaging in idolatry. And, in Matt. 22:30, Jesus says we will be “like angels in heaven.” This means human saints (like the angel saints) can be called upon to assist people on earth. God allows and encourages this interaction between his family members.

Matt. 27:47,49; Mark 15:35-36 – the people believe that Jesus calls on Elijah for his intercession, and waits to see if Elijah would come to save Jesus on the cross.

Matt. 27:52-53 - at Jesus' passion, many saints were raised and went into the city to appear and presumably interact with the people, just as Jesus did after His resurrection.

Mark 11:24 - Jesus says that whatever we ask in prayer, we will receive it. It is Jesus, and also we through Jesus, who mediate.

John 2:3 - Jesus knew the wine was gone, but invites and responds to Mary's intercession. God desires our lesser mediation and responds to it because He is a living and loving God.

John 2:5 - Mary intercedes on behalf of those at the wedding feast and tells them to do whatever Jesus tells them. Because Mary is our perfect model of faith, we too intercede on behalf of our brothers and sisters.

John 2:11 - in fact, it was Mary's intercession that started Jesus' ministry. His hour had not yet come, yet Jesus responds to Mary's intercession. Even though He could do it all by Himself, God wants to work with His children.

Acts 12:7 – an angel strikes Peter on the side and wakes him up, freeing him from prison. The angel responds to Peter’s prayers.

Rom. 15:30 - Paul commands the family of God to pray for him. If we are united together in the one body of Christ, we can help each other.

2 Cor. 1:11 - Paul even suggests that the more prayers and the more people who pray, the merrier! Prayer is even more effective when united with other's prayers.

2 Cor. 9:14 - Paul says that the earthly saints pray for the Corinthians. They are subordinate mediators in Christ.

2 Cor. 13:7,9 - Paul says the elders pray that the Corinthians may do right and improve. They participate in Christ's mediation.

Gal. 6:2,10 - Paul charges us to bear one another's burdens, and to do good to all, especially those in the household of faith.

Eph. 6:18 - Paul commands the family of God to pray for each other.

Eph. 6:19 - Paul commands that the Ephesians pray for him. If there is only one mediator, why would Paul ask for their prayers?

Phil. 1:19 - Paul acknowledges power of Philippians' earthly intercession. He will be delivered by their prayers and the Holy Spirit.

Col. 1:3 - Paul says that he and the elders pray for the Colossians. They are subordinate mediators in the body of Christ.

Col. 1:9 - Paul says that he and the elders have not ceased to pray for the Colossians, and that, by interceding, they may gain wisdom.

Col. 4:4 - Paul commands the Colossians to pray for the elders of the Church so that God may open a door for the word. Why doesn't Paul just leave it up to God? Because subordinate mediation is acceptable and pleasing to God, and brings about change in the world. This is as mysterious as the Incarnation, but it is true.

1 Thess. 5:11 - Paul charges us to encourage one another and build one another up, in the body of Christ. We do this as mediators in Christ.

1 Thess. 5:17 - Paul says "pray constantly." If Jesus' role as mediator does not apply subordinately to us, why pray at all?

1 Thess. 5:25 - Paul commands the family of God to pray for the elders of the Church. He desires our subordinate mediation.

2 Thess. 1:11 - Paul tells the family of God that he prays for us. We participate in Christ's mediation because Christ desires this.

2 Thess. 3:1 - Paul asks the Thessalonians to pray for Him, Silvanus and Timothy so that they may be delivered.

1 Tim. 2:1-3 - Paul commands us to pray for all. Paul also states that these prayers are acceptable in the sight of God.

2 Tim. 1:3 – Paul says “I remember you constantly in my prayers.”

Philemon 22 - Paul is hoping through Philemon's intercession that he may be able to be with Philemon.

Heb. 1:14 – the author writes, “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?”

Hebrews 13:18-19 - the author strongly urges the Hebrews to pray for the elders so that they act desirably in all things.

James 5:14-15- James says the prayer of the priests over the sick man will save the sick man and forgive his sins. This is a powerful example of men forgiving sins and bringing a person to salvation with the sacrament of the sick.

James 5:16 - James instructs us to confess our sins to one another and pray for one another so that we may be healed.

James 5:17-18 - James refers to God's response to Elijah's fervent prayer for no rain. He is teaching us about the effectiveness of our earthly mediation.

1 John 5:14-15 - John is confident that God will grant us anything we ask of God according to His will.

1 John 5:16-17 - our prayers for others even calls God to give life to them and keep them from sinning. Our God is a personal and living God who responds to our prayers.

3 John 2 - John prays for Gaius' health and thus acts as a subordinate mediator.

Rev. 1:4 – this verse shows that angels (here, the seven spirits) give grace and peace. Because grace and peace only come from God, the angels are acting as mediators for God.

Rev. 5:8 - the prayers of the saints (on heaven and earth) are presented to God by the angels and saints in heaven. This shows that the saints intercede on our behalf before God, and it also demonstrates that our prayers on earth are united with their prayers in heaven. (The “24 elders” are said to refer to the people of God – perhaps the 12 tribes and 12 apostles - and the “four living creatures” are said to refer to the angels.)

Rev. 6:9-11 – the martyred saints in heaven cry out in a loud voice to God to avenge their blood “on those who dwell upon the earth.” These are “imprecatory prayers,” which are pleas for God’s judgment (see similar prayers in Psalm 35:1; 59:1-17; 139:19; Jer. 11:20; 15:15; 18:19; Zech.1:12-13). This means that the saints in heaven are praying for those on earth, and God answers their prayers (Rev. 8:1-5). We, therefore, ask for their intercession and protection.

Rev. 8:3-4 – in heaven an angel mingles incense with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne of God, and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God. These prayers “rise up” before God and elicit various kinds of earthly activity. God responds to his children’s requests, whether made by his children on earth or in heaven.

Old Testament

Gen. 20:17 - God responds to Abraham's intercession and heals Abimelech, and also his wife and slaves.

Gen. 27:29; Num. 24:9 - blessed be everyone who blesses you. If we bless others in prayer, we are also blessed.

Exodus 32:11-14, 30-34; 34:9; Num. 14:17-20; 21:7-9 - these are many examples of God's response to Moses' saintly intercession.

1 Sam. 12:23 - Samuel says that he would be sinning against God if he didn't continue to intercede for the people of Israel.

1 Sam. 28:7-20 – the deceased prophet Samuel appears and converses with Saul, which is confirmed by Sirach 46:13,20).

1 Sam. 28:7; 1 Chron. 10:13-14 - Saul practiced necromancy. He used a medium, not God, to seek the dead and was therefore condemned. Saul's practice is entirely at odds with the Catholic understanding of saintly mediation, where God is the source and channel of all communication, and who permits His children to participate in this power.

2 Chron. 30:27 - the prayers of the priests and Levites came before God's holy habitation in heaven and were answered.

Tobit 12:12,15 - angels place Tobit and Sarah's prayers before the Holy One. This teaches us that the angels are also our subordinate mediators. We pray to the angels to take up our prayers to God.

Job 42:7-9 - Job prayed for three friends in sin and God listened to Job as a result of these prayers.

Psalm 34:7 – the angel of the Lord delivers those who fear him.

Psalm 91:11 – God will give His angels charge of you, to guard you in all your ways.

Psalm 103:20-21; 148:1-2 – we praise the angels and ask for their assistance in doing God’s will.

Psalm 141:2 - David asks that his prayer be counted as incense before God. The prayers of the saints have powerful effects.

Isaiah 6:6-7 - an angel touches Isaiah's lips and declares that his sin is forgiven. The angel is a subordinate mediator of God who effects the forgiveness of sins on God’s behalf.

Jer. 7:16 - God acknowledges the people's ability to intercede, but refuses to answer due to the hardness of heart.

Jer. 15:1 – the Lord acknowledges the intercessory power of Moses and Samuel.

Jer. 37:3 - king Zedekiah sends messengers to ask Jeremiah to intercede for the people, that he might pray to God for them.

Jer. 42:1-6 - all the people of Israel went before Jeremiah asking for his intercession, that he would pray to the Lord for them.

Baruch 3:4 - Baruch asks the Lord to hear the prayers of the dead of Israel. They can intercede on behalf of the people of God.

Dan. 9:20-23 - Daniel intercedes on behalf of the people of Israel confessing both his sins and the sins of the people before God.

Zech. 1:12-13 - an angel intercedes for those in Judea and God responds favorably.

2 Macc. 15:12-16 – the high priest Onias and the prophet Jeremiah were deceased for centuries, and yet interact with the living Judas Maccabeas and pray for the holy people on earth.


3 posted on 02/08/2007 2:28:06 PM PST by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: NYer

4 posted on 02/08/2007 2:32:50 PM PST by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: NYer

Wow! Thanks!


5 posted on 02/08/2007 2:51:35 PM PST by Mad Dawg ("global warming -- it's just the tip of the iceberg!")
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To: NYer

great posts - thank you and God bless you


6 posted on 02/08/2007 2:54:42 PM PST by Nihil Obstat
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To: NYer
Whenever I contemplate the "intercession of the Saints", or the practice of praying to them - (You can guess my stance on this) - it is exactly one of the Scriptures you quoted which gives greatest pause.

Revelation 8:3-4

Others you noted can be argued, but this one cannot.

I am thus always left knowing that I am wrong in some way.

Thanks, NYer.

7 posted on 02/08/2007 5:05:07 PM PST by Enosh
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To: Enosh; Mad Dawg; Nihil Obstat; trisham; Alex Murphy; thiscouldbemoreconfusing
The 'intercession of the saints' can be a challenging belief for many. It is a contradiction of sorts since we have been taught that Christ died once for all our sins. As we have often seen posted in the forum - "why not pray directly to Jesus"? The response, as we all know, is that we can, of course, pray directly to him. But even the Early Church Fathers recognized that we are members of the Communion of Saints and when you have a 'friend' on high, it doesn't hurt to ask their help. A good example of this, in human terms, would be an individual hoping for a pay raise. Where to begin? The boss, of course! But he reports to someone, higher up the corporate ladder.

To render this in more contemporary terms, let's take a closer look at Philip McCord. Fearful that he faced possible blindness in his right eye, Philip McCord, a Baptist went into the Church of the Immaculate Conception one day and prayed.


Phillip McCord

“I need some help,” he said in his quiet conversation with God in the fall of 2000.

Looking up, he saw a picture of Mother Guerin (now deceased), the foundress of the Sisters of Providence at St. Mary-of-the-Woods. He decided to pray to Mother Theodore and ask for her assistance.

If you see fit and have any influence, maybe you could speak [to God] on my behalf”, he said to her.

McCord had undergone cataract surgery on both eyes that fall, and while the surgery was successful on his left eye, it was not successful for the right eye. He had swelling in his cornea.

He could only see shapes and light with his right eye, which drooped. “It was really not what you would call vision,” he said. It affected his depth perception and gave him headaches.

A specialist in Indianapolis had told him he would need a cornea transplant, which had a 60 percent success rate.

He worried about the risks and feared permanent damage, including possible blindness, in his right eye.

He was upset and afraid. “I was not making a lot of headway in dealing with it,” he said.

One day, when he was returning from a meeting at Providence Center, he heard organ music from the church and decided to go inside and pray.

He told God, “I try not to bother you with a whole lot of things … but I’m not going to get through this. I need some help.”

Read More

This is not some event from the distant past. This is now! The media always love the 'unexplicable' and jumped all over McCord's story. CNN even took it to a new level by producing a mini documentary in which their professional consultants interviewed McCord on videotape, while re-producing the blurred images of McCord prior to the 'intervention' of Mother Theodore.

This is just one of countless miracles attributed to the intervention of those on the path to sainthood and others who have already arrived.

8 posted on 02/08/2007 5:42:16 PM PST by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: trisham
Beautiful icon of Christ - Pontacrator! Notice that He holds the Book of the Gospels open in His left hand while administering a blessing with His right hand. (I have a smaller version of this icon hanging on the wall over my home computer, a constant reminder to seek His guidance before pressing the 'Post' button). Do you know the source of this gift to the Holy Father?
9 posted on 02/08/2007 5:51:09 PM PST by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: NYer

This is a caucus thread, so if I step out of line, just say and I'll go.

But, this is a fascinating topic for me.

In the article you linked to, Mr. McCord prayed to Mother Guerin only to be later "upset and afraid."

Next, he appealed directly to God, and that worked. ("He told God, ...")

Friend, I cannot dispute that a miracle occurred, I only question the chain of command.


10 posted on 02/08/2007 6:08:20 PM PST by Enosh
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To: Enosh
Next, he appealed directly to God, and that worked. ("He told God, ...")

And, from the article ....

McCord, who has a dry sense of humor, said a friend told him, “Mother Theodore and God talked it over and decided it was easier to fix my eye than to make me courageous.”

McCord had never before prayed to Mother Theodore before his problems with his eye, but since his cure, he has conversations thanking her every day.

As I noted above, this is a very difficult concept for many non-Catholics to grasp, yet, the earliest christians had no problem understanding that they were members of a much larger family - the Communion of Saints. Just as you pray for your friends and family here on earth, the saints pray for you, in heaven.

11 posted on 02/08/2007 6:42:34 PM PST by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: Enosh

Remember, we pray to the saints and ASK THEM to intercede for us -- pray for us. They are much closer to Christ than we are.

You are so right about the description of the incense and prayers rising to heaven from Revelation. Isn't that a powerful picture?


12 posted on 02/08/2007 6:49:53 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
The Early Church Fathers

The Early Church Fathers on The Church (Catholic Caucus)

Early Church Fathers on (Oral) Tradition - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus

The Early Church Fathers on Apostolic Succession - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus

The Early Church Fathers on Purgatory - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus

The Early Church Fathers on Salvation Outside the Church [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]

The Early Church Fathers on Mary’s Perpetual Virginity - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus

The Early Church Fathers on The Primacy of Peter/Rome (Catholic/Orthodox Caucus)

The Early Church Fathers on Hell - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus

The Early Church Fathers on Intercession of the Saints - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus

13 posted on 02/08/2007 6:53:05 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: NYer
the saints pray for you, in heaven.

One of the most beautiful concepts I could think of.

Their inability to do anything about it is what got hammered into me in childhood and what I am now confronting as "Ancestor Worship."

Forgive me.

This has not been easy.

14 posted on 02/08/2007 6:57:38 PM PST by Enosh
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To: Salvation

It is an overpowering picture.


15 posted on 02/08/2007 6:59:00 PM PST by Enosh
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To: NYer; All
Heavenly Father,
By the intercession of John Paul, I beg you to heal Carolyn, my mother-in-law, from the scourge of Parkinson's disease.

Comforted by the courageous and loving witness of John Paul, and confident that you hear his prayers, I turn to you asking for consolation, faith, and healing for this good and pious woman, knowing that whatever happens you have always known and loved her and chosen the best for her,

I dare to ask this, encouraged by your Son and comforted by the communion of all the saints on earth and in heaven, with those saints and through that glorious Son who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, in everlasting splendor.


(I don't "think about" the intercession of the saints so much as I appeal for it.)
16 posted on 02/09/2007 6:57:50 AM PST by Mad Dawg ("global warming -- it's just the tip of the iceberg!")
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To: Enosh
Their inability to do anything about it is what got hammered into me in childhood and what I am now confronting as "Ancestor Worship."

Yes ... I understand. You are not alone. These misunderstandings are the reason why I am posting this series of threads on the Early Church Fathers.

There is no need to ask for forgiveness ... absolutely none. This is a learning experience for all of us.

17 posted on 02/09/2007 7:02:04 AM PST by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: NYer

No, I don't, I'm sorry to say.


18 posted on 02/09/2007 7:26:58 AM PST by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: Salvation

It is.

Revelation
Chapter 8
1
1 When he broke open the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven 2 for about half an hour.
2
And I saw that the seven angels who stood before God were given seven trumpets.
3
Another angel came and stood at the altar, 3 holding a gold censer. He was given a great quantity of incense to offer, along with the prayers of all the holy ones, on the gold altar that was before the throne.
4
The smoke of the incense along with the prayers of the holy ones went up before God from the hand of the angel.


19 posted on 02/09/2007 7:50:37 AM PST by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: All

BTTT!


20 posted on 06/21/2009 12:31:11 PM PDT by Salvation (With God all things are possible.)
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To: Salvation

Bump for prayer and study of the Word.


21 posted on 06/27/2011 8:48:44 PM PDT by Ciexyz
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To: NYer; Heart-Rest; HoosierDammit; red irish; fastrock; NorthernCrunchyCon; UMCRevMom@aol.com; ...
+

Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic List:

Add me / Remove me

Please ping me to note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of general interest.

22 posted on 09/15/2013 5:09:02 PM PDT by narses
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