There are plenty of reasons why I don't like Catholicism, but one of the reasons I DO like it is because of what the Church teaches about saints and intercession. We can ask the saints to pray to God for us; they can intercede on our behalf. Yes, we can also pray directly to God ourselves, but we believe that when a soul is so incredibly close to God in ways that really can't be understood from an earthly perspective, that God will indeed have mercy and grant what is requested.
Catholics also believe that a soul does not have to be canonized to be a 'saint.' ALL souls in Heaven are referred to as saints. So, that means that each of us has ancestors who are saints and whose lives we can remember and celebrate on this day. AND it means that we each have people who we can ask to pray for us. I did this the other day; my leg was hurting pretty badly and I asked my grandma to pray for me. Yes, I suppose I am just assuming that she is in Heaven; I don't really know for sure. (If she didn't make it to Heaven, I have no chance!) Usually when I try to pray to a canonized saint, I'm always left with the impression of "Well, did they hear me? Did I get through amist everyone elses' requests?" But when I ask a loved one to pray for me, I'm SURE that he/she heard me and DID pray for me. And I am comforted by the fact that they can still be a part of my life even if they aren't here with me now.
My Grandmother among the saints:
©2012, copyright Emily Kowalski Schroeder