We had a good retreat today. The retreat was given by Fr Tim Hepburn who is the Chaplain at Georgia Tech. Primarily, it was preparation for Lent as well as a reflection on the importance of the proclamation of the Word at Mass.
This coming Monday is the Feast Day of St Polycarp. I have always admired him since he was the first Bishop of Smyrna (a great town in Georgia) and a follower of St John the Apostle (author of my favorite Gospel). He died a martyr at the age of 86 (burned alive). The stories of the Church Martyrs has always humbled me. To willingly die for your faith is a testament to the power of the Holy Spirit and their sacrifice was critical in the growth of the Church. You can read more about him here.
I have talked to many of many Protestant friends about the Catholic devotion to saints. Many say they do not believe in the Communion of Saints; that is until that learn what it is. Saints are those people that the Church has declared to be in heaven (it is a very difficult process). Obviously, most Protestants believe there are people in heaven. We Catholics see these people as role models; someone to look up too. We also believe that in heaven, our petitions on earth can be heard. We do not pray to saints; we ask them to pray for us, which is no different than asking a friend to pray for you.