Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Sometime during the Christmas season, if  you haven't already done so, it is good to read to your family, or yourself if you are not with family this year, the scriptures regarding the incarnation of our blessed Lord among men.  I have put this together in one place, using the Knox English translation of bible, with some minor editing of thees and thous.  

May God bless each and everyone during this Christmas Season, and bring you a blessed, and joyful New Year...


The First Christmas -

In the days when Herod was king of Judea, there was a priest called Zachary, of Abia’s turn of office, who had married a wife of Aaron’s family, by the name of Elizabeth, they were both well approved in God’s sight, following all the commandments and observances of the Lord without reproach. They had no child; Elizabeth was barren, and both were now well advanced in years. He, then, as it happened, was doing a priest’s duty before God in the order of his turn of office; and had been chosen by lot, as was the custom among the priests, to go into the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense there, while the whole multitude of the people stood praying outside, at the hour of sacrifice. Suddenly he saw an angel of the Lord, standing at the right of the altar where incense was burnt. Zachary was bewildered at the sight, and overcome with fear; but the angel said,
“Zachary, do not be afraid; your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth is to bear you a son, to whom you shall give the name of John. Joy and gladness shall be yours, and many hearts shall rejoice over his birth, for he is to be high in the Lord’s favor; he is to drink neither wine nor strong drink; and from the time when he is yet a child in his mother’s womb he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost. He shall bring back many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God, ushering in his advent in the spirit and power of an Elias. He shall unite the hearts of all, the fathers with the children, and teach the disobedient the wisdom that makes men just, preparing for the Lord a people fit to receive him.”
And Zachary said to the angel,
“By what sign am I to be assured of this? I am an old man now, and my wife is far advanced in age.”
The angel answered,
“My name is Gabriel, and my place is in God’s presence; I have been sent to speak with you, and to bring you this good news. Behold, you shall be dumb, and have no power of speech, until the day when this is accomplished; and that, because you have not believed my promise, which shall in due time be fulfilled.”
And now all the people were waiting for Zachary, and wondering that he delayed in the temple so long; but he, when he came out, could speak no word to them; whereupon they made sure that he had seen some vision in the sanctuary. He could but stand there making signs to them, for he remained dumb.
And so, when the days of his ministry were at an end, he went back to his house. It was after those days that his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she lived hidden; she said,
“It is the Lord who has done this for me, visiting me at his own time, to take away my reproach among men.”
When the sixth month came, God sent the angel Gabriel to a city of Galilee called Nazareth, where a virgin lived, betrothed to a man of David’s lineage; his name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name was Mary. Into her presence the angel ca me, and said,
“Hail, you who are full of grace; the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women.”
She was much perplexed at hearing him speak so, and cast about in her mind, what she was to make of such a greeting. Then the angel said to her,
“Mary, do not be afraid; you have found favor in the sight of God. And behold, you shall conceive in your womb, and shall bear a son, and shall call him Jesus He shall be great, and men will know him for the Son of the most High; the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob eternally; his kingdom shall never have an end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can that be, since I have no knowledge of man?”
And the angel answered her,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the most High will overshadow you. Thus this holy offspring of your shall be known for the Son of God. See, moreover, how it fares with your cousin Elizabeth; she is old, yet she too has conceived a son; she who was reproached with barrenness is now in her sixth month, to prove that nothing can be impossible with God.”
And Mary said,
“Behold the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.”
And with that the angel left her.
In the days that followed, Mary rose up and went with all haste to a town of Judea, in the hill country where Zachary lived; and there entering in she gave Elizabeth greeting. No sooner had Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, than the child leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth herself was filled with the Holy Ghost; so that she cried out with a loud voice,
“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. How have I deserved to be thus visited by the mother of my Lord? Why, as soon as ever the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the child in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you for your believing; the message that was brought to you from the Lord shall have fulfillment.”
And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord;
my spirit has found joy in God, who is my Savior,
because he has looked graciously upon the lowliness of his handmaid.
Behold, from this day forward all generations will count me blessed;
because he who is mighty, he whose name is holy, has wrought for me his wonders.
He has mercy upon those who fear him, from generation to generation,
he has done valiantly with the strength of his arm,
driving the proud astray in the conceit of their hearts;
he has put down the mighty from their seat, and exalted the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty-handed.
He has protected his servant Israel,
keeping his merciful design in remembrance,
according to the promise which he made to our forefathers,
Abraham and his posterity for evermore.”

Mary returned home when she had been with her about three months; meanwhile, Elizabeth’s time had come for her child-bearing, and she bore a son. Her neighbors and her kinsfolk, hearing how wonderfully God had shown his mercy to her, came to rejoice with her; and now, when they assembled on the eighth day for the circumcision of the child, they were for calling him Zachary, because it was his father’s name; but his mother answered,
“No, he is to be called John.”
And they said,
“There is none of your kindred that is called by this name,”
and began asking his father by signs, what name he would have him called by. So he asked for a tablet, and wrote on it the words, His name is John; and they were all astonished. Then, of a sudden, his lips and his tongue were unloosed, and he broke into speech, giving praise to God; so that fear came upon all their neighborhood, and there was none of these happenings but was noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judea. All those who heard it laid it to heart; Why then, they asked, what will this boy grow to be? And indeed the hand of the Lord was with him.
Then his father Zachary was filled with the Holy Ghost, and spoke in prophecy:
“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he has visited his people, and wrought their redemption. He has raised up a scepter of salvation for us among the posterity of his servant David, according to the promise which he made by the lips of holy men that have been his prophets from the beginning; salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all those who hate us. So he would carry out his merciful design towards our fathers, by remembering his holy covenant. He had sworn an oath to our father Abraham, that he would enable us to live without fear in his service, delivered from the hand of our enemies, passing all our days in holiness, and approved in his sight. And thou, my child, will be known for a prophet of the most High, going before the Lord, to clear his way for him; you will make known to his people the salvation that is to release them from their sins. Such is the merciful kindness of our God, which has bidden him come to us, like a dawning from on high, to give light to those who live in darkness, in the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
And as the child grew, his spirit achieved strength, and he lived in the wilderness until the day when he was made manifest to Israel.
And this was the manner of Christ’s birth. His mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, but they had not yet come together, when she was found to be with child, by the power of the Holy Ghost. Whereupon her husband Joseph (for he was a right-minded man, and would not have her put to open shame) was for sending her away in secret. But hardly had this thought come to his mind, when an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, and said,
“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take your wife Mary to yourself, for it is by the power of the Holy Ghost that she has conceived this child; and she will bear a son, whom you shall call Jesus, for he is to save his people from their sins.”
All this was so ordained to fulfill the word which the Lord spoke by his prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a son, and they shall call him Emmanuel” (which means, God with us). And Joseph awoke from sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, taking his wife to himself;

It happened that a decree went out at this time from the emperor Augustus, enjoining that the whole world should be registered; this register was the first one made during the time when Cyrinus was governor of Syria. All must go and give in their names, each in his own city; and Joseph, being of David’s clan and family, came up from the town of Nazareth, in Galilee, to David’s city in Judea, the city called Bethlehem, to give in his name there. With him was his espoused wife Mary, who was then in her pregnancy; and it was while they were still there that the time came for her delivery. She brought forth a son,whom she wrapped in his swaddling-clothes, and laid in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. and he had not known her when she bore him a son, her first-born, to whom he gave the name Jesus.
In the same country there were shepherds awake in the fields, keeping night-watches over their flocks. And all at once an angel of the Lord came and stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone about them, so that they were overcome with fear. But the angel said to them,
“Do not be afraid; behold, I bring you good news of a great rejoicing for the whole people. This day, in the city of David, a Savior has been born for you, the Lord Christ himself. This is the sign by which you are to know him; you will find a child still in swaddling-clothes, lying in a manger.”
Then, on a sudden, a multitude of the heavenly army appeared to them at the angel’s side, giving praise to God, and saying,
“Glory to God in high heaven, and peace on earth to men that are God’s friends.”
When the angels had left them, and gone back into heaven, the shepherds said to one another,
“Come, let us make our way to Bethlehem, and see for ourselves this happening which God has made known to us.”
And so they went with all haste, and found Mary and Joseph there, with the child lying in the manger. On seeing him, they discovered the truth of what had been told them about this child. All those who heard it were full of amazement at the story which the shepherds told them; but Mary treasured up all these sayings, and reflected on them in her heart. And the shepherds went home giving praise and glory to God, at seeing and hearing that all was as it had been told them.
When eight days had passed, and the boy must be circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name which the angel had given him before ever he was conceived in the womb. And when the time had come for purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem, to present him before the Lord there. It is written in God’s law, that whatever male offspring opens the womb is to be reckoned sacred to the Lord;and so they must offer in sacrifice for him, as God’s law commanded, a pair of turtle-doves, or two young pigeons. At this time there was a man named Simeon living in Jerusalem, an upright man of careful observance, who waited patiently for comfort to be brought to Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him; and by the Holy Spirit it had been revealed to him that he was not to meet death, until he had seen that Christ whom the Lord had anointed. He now came, led by the Spirit, into the temple; and when the child Jesus was brought in by his parents, to perform the custom which the law enjoined concerning him, Simeon too was able to take him in his arms. And he said, blessing God:
“Ruler of all, now you let your servant go in peace, according to your word; for my own eyes have seen that saving power of your which you hast prepared in the sight of all nations. This is the light which shall give revelation to the Gentiles, this is the glory of your people Israel.'”
The father and mother of the child were still wondering over all that was said of him, when Simeon blessed them, and said to his mother Mary,
“Behold, this child is destined to bring about the fall of many and the rise of many in Israel; to be a sign which men will refuse to acknowledge; and so the thoughts of many hearts shall be made manifest; as for your own soul, it shall have a sword to pierce it.”
There was besides a prophetess named Anna, daughter to one Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser (a woman greatly advanced in age, since she had lived with a husband for seven years after her maidenhood, and had now been eighty-four years a widow) who abode continually in the temple night and day, serving God with fasting and prayer. She too, at that very hour, came near to give God thanks, and spoke of the child to all that patiently waited for the deliverance of Israel.
Jesus was born at Bethlehem, in Judea, in the days of king Herod. And thereupon certain wise men came out of the east to Jerusalem, who asked,
“Where is he that has been born, the king of the Jews? We have seen his star out in the east, and we have come to worship him.”
King Herod was troubled when he heard it, and all Jerusalem with him; so that he assembled all the chief priests and learned men among the people, and inquired of them where it was that Christ would be born. And they told him, At Bethlehem in Judea; so it has been written by the prophet:
“And thou, Bethlehem, of the land of Judea, art far from the least among the princes of Judea, for out of you will arise a leader who is to be the shepherd of my people Israel.”
Then, summoning the wise men in secret, Herod questioned them closely upon the time of the star’s appearing. And he sent them on their way to Bethlehem, saying to them,
“Go and inquire carefully for the child, and when you have found him, bring me back word, so that I too may come and worship him.”

They obeyed the king, and went on their journey; and all at once the star which they had seen in the east was there going before them, till at last it stood still over the place where the child was. They, when they saw the star, were glad beyond measure; and so, going into the dwelling, they found the child there, with his mother Mary, and fell down to worship him; and, opening their store of treasures, they offered him gifts, of gold and frankincense and myrrh. Afterwards, because they had received a warning in a dream forbidding them to go back to Herod, they returned to their own country by a different way.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


I began this blog a long time ago.  I had a few followers, and they've all since dropped off.  Not because of anything I've said that offended anyone, but because, well, there's no content.  A writer who doesn't write can have a difficult time finding an audience.  So with this in mind, I wanted to relaunch.  No longer is this "The Catholic Lens", but it is now the friendlier title "Steve the Catholic". Here is what I hope to accomplish:

I want to help ease the minds hearts of particularly non-Catholic Christians, and those of other religions such as Buddhism, Paganism etc.  who I think have whole swaths of bad info about the Catholic Christian faith.  The secular media, and our post-Christendom culture have pulled the plug on the tub, and I want to try to save the baby, before it disappears with the bath water.

So let's have a dialog, whoever you may be.  Whatever religion you are, or even if you have no religion whatsoever.  Please let me know why you are not a Christian.  And if you ARE a Christian, then let me know why you're not either a Roman Catholic, Eastern Catholic, or Eastern Orthodox adherent.  What is holding you back?  You can comment publically here on the blog, by commenting on a post of mine, or, if you'd rather have some anonymity then please E-mail me your post, comment etc. at  I will answer you by E-mail, and will always keep you anonymous, however I may use your questions and my answers for future posts, with all personal information redacted.  So this is the kick off post for a whole new direction for old dusty blog.

Let's talk,

The coffee is always brewing.............................................

The peace of the Lord be with you,


Thursday, February 7, 2013


The Communion of Saints - 

After catching a piece of a show on Catholic radio the other night, my brother asked me a few things about the communion of saints.   He is a Lutheran, and I am a Catholic.  We get along wonderfully, and while we enjoy healthy argument, he surprises me periodically with some things I take for granted in all Christian doctrine.  It hadn't occurred to me that the Lutherans, who were founded by a Catholic priest, (granted, a somewhat heretical Catholic priest in some of his views), and since we share the apostolic creed with the Lutherans, it didn't occur to me that there was any difference regarding the saints.  Then of course, being a writer by nature, I just trip over my lips in verbal interplay, and make a disaster out of the easiest of conversations with others.  I sure wish sometimes that I had taken debate in high school instead of maybe ROTC or biology.  (though biology made me pro-life, way ahead of my time, and I've always been grateful for that.  That I never fell for that particular piece of modern hogwash (abortion), when the rest of my peers did.  And I wasn't even Christian.  I was pro-life a good 30 years before I was a Christian.  Even while enmeshed in some of the most far out, liberal, "new age", relativist, fiddlety foop you can imagine during that interval of time.

Anyway, back to the point of this blog post.  Two points actually.  Is there a communion of saints, and the broader question is on intercessory prayer, which I also assumed the Lutherans engaged in.  

So first - what exactly is the communion of saints?:  According to the Catholic Encylopedia, it is:  "the spiritual solidarity which binds together the faithful on earth, the souls in purgatory, and the saints in heaven in the organic unity of the same mystical body under Christ its head, and in a constant interchange of supernatural offices. The participants in that solidarity are called saints by reason of their destination and of their partaking of the fruits of the Redemption (1 Corinthians 1:2 — Greek Text). The damned are thus excluded from the communion of saints. "  

So essentially everyone is included in this communion, both living, dead, and angels, except anyone who is destined for hell by the individual or general judgement.

Luther himself believed the communion of saints, and it is written of in his theological writings.  He believed not only that the saints form a living communion and a mystical body.  He extended the notion of sainthood even further to include the possibility of saints being recognized during mortal life.  While the Lutherans themselves don't canonize, they do acknowledge sainthood and saints.  And yes, there are Lutheran churches named for saints.  Even one in Las Vegas (St. Andrew Lutheran Church).

The communion of saints is a part of the Apostles Creed, which we both proclaim.

So saints exist, and are in communion with the living and with the angels who are in communion with God.  Jesus is the head of the communion of saints.  Extra-scriptural sources will be a problem since the Lutherans subscribe to the mystifying, and decidedly non-scriptural idea of "sola scriptura", or scripture alone.  (which itself isn't taught in scripture).  But that's a whole other blog post.  ;-).

So here are the de fide dogmas concerning the communion of saints (de fide is that they are integral to the belief of the Christian Church without doubt) - For my information sources, I am using the Douay Rheims Bible with Haydock commentary and the text book "Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma" by Dr. Ludwig Ott.  Fr. Ott uses St. Jerom's Sacra Vulgata (Latin), which was derived from the Greek Septuagint and was the document used for the Douay Rheims English translation, as well as the original King James.  In modern printings of the King James, the books from the Greek Septuagint which did not appear in some of the Hebrew manuscripts in existence, have been either omitted or classified as "Apocrypha", and placed as a supplement to the King James in the back of the Bible or after the OT.  I recommend that protestants intent on serious Bible study, and who have an aversion to St. Jerome's Vulgate, or the Revised Standard Version (Cath. Edition), and wish to use the King James only to find a copy of the King James, such as the Oxford Press edition, which contains the "Apocrypha" and "Dueterocanonical" Books.  I believe the only passage used here which is not in modern printings of the KJV is the passage from 2 Maccabees.

1.  It is permissible and profitable to venerate the Saints in Heaven, and to invoke their intercession. (De fide.)

Scriptural references:

Our right to venerate the Saints can be deduced from the veneration of angels in scripture.  This veneration (which is not worship) is based on their supernatural dignity due to their immediate union with God.  
JOSHUA 5:13 And when Josue was in the field of the city of Jericho, he lifted up his eyes, and saw a man standing over against him: holding a drawn sword, and he went to him, and said: Art thou one of ours, or of our adversaries? [14] And he answered: No: but I am prince of the host of the Lord, and now I am come. [15]Josue fell on his face to the ground. And worshipping, add: What saith my lord to his servant?
[14] Prince of the host of the Lord: St. Michael, who is called prince of the people of Israel, Dan. 10. 21.
[15] Worshipping: Not with divine honour, but with a religious veneration of an inferior kind, suitable to the dignity of his person.
DANIEL 8:16 And I heard the voice of a man between Ulai: and he called, and said: Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision. [17] And he came and stood near where I stood: and when he was come, I fell on my face trembling, and he said to me: Understand, O son of man, for in the time of the end the vision shall be fulfilled. 
TOBIT 12:14 And now the Lord hath sent me to heal thee, and to deliver Sara thy son's wife from the devil. [15] For I am the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord. [16] And when they had heard these things, they were troubled, and being seized with fear they fell upon the ground on their face. [17] And the angel said to them: Peace be to you, fear not. [18] For when I was with you, I was there by the will of God: bless ye him, and sing praises to him.
Since the Saints are also in immediate union with God (see scripture below), it is reasonable that they are also due the same veneration due to the supernatural dignity of their immediate union.
MATTHEW 18:10 See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.

1 CORINTHIANS 13:12 We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then I shall know even as I am known. 

1 JOHN 3: [2] Dearly beloved, we are now the sons of God; and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be. We know, that, when he shall appear, we shall be like to him: because we shall see him as he is. 

We find the faith the Jewish people in intercessory prayer in 2 MACABEES where in a credible vision, the deceased high priest Onias, and the deceased prophet Jeremiah pray for the Jewish people, and for the Holy City:

2 MACABEES 15:[11] So he armed every one of them, not with defence of shield and spear, but with very good speeches and exhortations, and told them a dream worthy to be believed, whereby he rejoiced them all. [12] Now the vision was in this manner: Onias who had been high priest, a good and virtuous man, modest in his looks, gentle in his manners, and graceful in his speech, and who from a child was exercised in virtues, holding up his hands, prayed for all the people of the Jews: [13] After this there appeared also another man, admirable for age, and glory, and environed with great beauty and majesty: [14] Then Onias answering, said: This is a lover of his brethren, and of the people of Israel: this is he that prayeth much for the people, and for all the holy city, Jeremias the prophet of God. [15] Whereupon Jeremias stretched forth his right hand, and gave to Judas a sword of gold, saying:

[16] Take this holy sword a gift from God, wherewith thou shalt overthrow the adversaries of my people Israel.  
According to the Tobit, Jeramiah and Revelation, the Saints and the angels take the prayers of the holy on earth and lay them at the feet of God, that is, they support them with their intercession.  It also fits with the definition of charity (love) from St. Paul, that charity is eternal.  Invoking the Saints logically follows from the fact of their intercession:
JEREMIAH 15:1 And the Lord said to me: If Moses and Samuel shall stand before me, my soul is not towards this people: cast them out from my sight, and let them go forth.
TOBIT 12:12 When thou didst pray with tears, and didst bury the dead, and didst leave thy dinner, and hide the dead by day in thy house, and bury them by night, I offered thy prayer to the Lord. 
REVELATION 5:8 And when he had opened the book, the four living creatures, and the four and twenty ancients fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints
[8] The prayers of saints: Here we see that the saints in heaven offer up to Christ the prayers of the faithful upon earth.
REVELATION 8:3 And another angel came, and stood before the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer of the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar, which is before the throne of God.
Prayer is only necessary for the living who are on earth, or those in purgation and destined for heaven.  Those in heaven do not need prayer as they are receiving their reward and have the beatific vision.  Therefore the prayers they offer before the throne of God are prayers of the living. (us)
1 CORINTHIANS 13:[8] Charity never falleth away: whether prophecies shall be made void, or tongues shall cease, or knowledge shall be destroyed.
If charity never falleth away, then those who love us, and are in heaven, still feel charity and love for us, and would therefore pray for us to God.
We venerate the Saints not because they are equal with Christ.  They are not.  We started with veneration of the martyrs.  We adore Christ because He is the Son of the Living God.  We offer the Saints the love due to disciples and imitators of Christ.  Because of their unsurpassable devotion to our Lord and Savior.  
The Church fathers have much more to say on this topic.  I am keeping it confined to scripture, because protestants only accept scripture as authoritative, and don't recognize Apostolic teaching authority beyond what the few apostles themselves noted in scripture.  This is a shame.  Jesus taught the Apostles.  The Apostles taught the Church Fathers.  The Church Fathers taught the next generation of Bishops.  Those Bishops taught the next generation etc. right on down to current times.  The Church is both a repository of the faith, and a living body of Christ as well, until he comes again.

2.  It is permissible and profitable to venerate the relics of the Saints. (De fide.)
I will just give the scripture passages and make brief comment:

 EXODUS 13:19 And Moses took Joseph's bones with him: because he had adjured the children of Israel, saying: God shall visit you, carry out my bones from hence with you.

2 KINGS 13:21 And some that were burying a man, saw the rovers, and cast the body into the sepulchre of Eliseus. And when it had touched the bones of Eliseus, the man came to life, and stood upon his feet

2 KINGS 2:13 - And he took up the mantle of Elias, that fell from him: and going back, he stood upon the bank of the Jordan, [14] And he struck the waters with the mantle of Elias, that had fallen from him, and they were not divided. And he said: Where is now the God of Elias? And he struck the waters, and they were divided, hither and thither, and Eliseus passed over.[15] And the sons of the prophets at Jericho, who were over against him, seeing it said: The spirit of Elias hath rested upon Eliseus. And coming to meet him, they worshipped him, falling to the ground,

[15] They worshipped him: viz., with an inferior, yet religious veneration, not for any temporal, but spiritual excellency.
ACTS 19:12 So that even there were brought from his body to the sick, handkerchiefs and aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the wicked spirits went out of them.
3.  It is permissible and profitable to venerate images of the Saints. (De fide.)
The type of veneration engaged in regarding the saints is of a different type than that referred to in Exodus 20:4, which was intended to prevent the Israelites from relapsing into the idolatry of their pagan ancestory.  The council of Trent determined that honor shown to the images refers to the prototypes which they represent..  Examples are Ex. 25:18 (Cherubim on the ark) and Numbers 21:8 (The Brazen Serpent):

EXODUS 25:18 Thou shalt make also two cherubims of beaten gold, on the two sides of the oracle.

NUMBERS 21: 8 And the Lord said to him: Make brazen serpent, and set it up for a sign: whosoever being struck shall look on it, shall live.

For the Catholics (who are not, themselves, superstitious and misunderstanding of the idea - they are indeed in error), the imagery of Saints is a visual reminder of their lives.  Something akin to the busts and statues in a museum of great characters from history.  It is also akin to carrying photographs of those you love in your wallet, or putting together photo albums.  You look a statue or a picture, and it is a reminder of that persons life, or their deeds.  Their holiness, and the exemplary life they led.  It is also a tribute and an honor in art.  It is not such as the "golden calf", in which the material item itself is believed to be a God, or that the item itself gives power.  We are not making Gods of statues of a Saint, or a painting of a Saint.  We are remembering a great person from our "family" history.  It is often a visual reminder to ourselves to imitate some aspect of that Saint's life in our own.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which is derived from scripture, Christian councils of Bishops, Papal documents, and the Saints, Doctors, and Fathers of the Christian Church has this to say on the Saints and Intercessory Prayer:

2634 Intercession is a prayer of petition which leads us to pray as Jesus did. He is the one intercessor with the Father on behalf of all men, especially sinners.112 He is "able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them."113 The Holy Spirit "himself intercedes for us . . . and intercedes for the saints according to the will of God."114
2635 Since Abraham, intercession - asking on behalf of another has been characteristic of a heart attuned to God's mercy. In the age of the Church, Christian intercession participates in Christ's, as an expression of the communion of saints. In intercession, he who prays looks "not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others," even to the point of praying for those who do him harm.115
2636 The first Christian communities lived this form of fellowship intensely.116 Thus the Apostle Paul gives them a share in his ministry of preaching the Gospel117 but also intercedes for them.118 The intercession of Christians recognizes no boundaries: "for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions," for persecutors, for the salvation of those who reject the Gospel.119

956 The intercession of the saints. "Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness. . . . They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus . . . . So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped."495

Do not weep, for I shall be more useful to you after my death and I shall help you then more effectively than during my life.496I want to spend my heaven in doing good on earth.497
957 Communion with the saints. "It is not merely by the title of example that we cherish the memory of those in heaven; we seek, rather, that by this devotion to the exercise of fraternal charity the union of the whole Church in the Spirit may be strengthened. Exactly as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself"498:

We worship Christ as God's Son; we love the martyrs as the Lord's disciples and imitators, and rightly so because of their matchless devotion towards their king and master. May we also be their companions and fellow disciples!499
958 Communion with the dead. "In full consciousness of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the Church in its pilgrim members, from the very earliest days of the Christian religion, has honored with great respect the memory of the dead; and 'because it is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins' she offers her suffrages for them."500 Our prayer for them is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us effective.
959 In the one family of God. "For if we continue to love one another and to join in praising the Most Holy Trinity - all of us who are sons of God and form one family in Christ - we will be faithful to the deepest vocation of the Church."501
960 The Church is a "communion of saints": this expression refers first to the "holy things" (sancta), above all the Eucharist, by which "the unity of believers, who form one body in Christ, is both represented and brought about" (LG 3).
961 The term "communion of saints" refers also to the communion of "holy persons" (sancti) in Christ who "died for all," so that what each one does or suffers in and for Christ bears fruit for all.
962 "We believe in the communion of all the faithful of Christ, those who are pilgrims on earth, the dead who are being purified, and the blessed in heaven, all together forming one Church; and we believe that in this communion, the merciful love of God and his saints is always [attentive] to our prayers" (Paul VI, CPG § 30).

479 Nicetas, Expl. Symb., 10:PL 52:871B.
480 St. Thomas Aquinas, Symb., 10.
481 Roman Catechism I, 10,24.
482 Acts 2:42.
483 Roman Catechism I, 10,24.
484 LG 12 § 2.
485 1 Cor 12:7.
486 Acts 4:32.
487 Roman Catechism I, 10,27.
488 Cf. Lk 16:1, 3.
489 Rom 14:7.
490 1 Cor 12:26-27.
491 1 Cor 13:5; cf. 10:24.
492 LG 49; cf. Mt 25:31; 1 Cor 15:26-27; Council of Florence (1439):DS 1305.
493 LG 49; cf. Eph 4:16.
494 LG 49.
495 LG 49; cf. 1 Tim 2:5.
496 St. Dominic, dying, to his brothers.
497 St. Thérèse of Lisieux, The Final Conversations, tr. John Clarke (Washington: ICS, 1977), 102.
498 LG 50; cf. Eph 4:1-6.
499 Martyrium Polycarpi, 17:Apostolic Fathers II/3,396.
500 LG 50; cf. 2 Macc 12:45.
501 LG 51; cf. Heb 3:6.