Thanks for your note. I'm glad we spoke, but I have to say my pleasure was mixed with quite a degree of frustration, in that you didn't really engage with the arguments for asking the saints to intercede on our behalf. Your subjective experience of not feeling a need for anything "extra" apparently trumps two millennia of Church teaching and practice.
Look, if a Jewish or Muslim friend of yours said, "I've got a relationship with the one true G_d, so what are you bringing in this trinity business for!" what would you say? You'd explain that yes, God is one, but to understand the fullness of God's nature we have to appreciate that at the same time God is also a Trinity. The Triune nature of God is not an extra; the doctrine is critically important as an aid to us in this life and a help towards eternal salvation. Would you be satisfied with your friend's "I don't feel the need for a trinity"? I think not.
Now, of course, the analogy is limited, in that knowing the Holy Trinity is much more important in itself than knowing the saints. But the latter is a tremendous aid to the former, as countless Catholics through the ages have attested.
You do recognize and respect these Catholics' Christian faith, I know, and yet in this situation at least, you refuse to follow their example. Tell me, please, where is the historical record of all the Christians in the first millennium and a half of the Church's existence who objected to the liturgical practice of praying to saints.
"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 . . . " (Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 23:9 [A.D. 350]).
When, before the sixteenth century, can we find interpretations of the Apostles' Creed's "communion of saints" in a Protestant sense that would have us stop asking for the prayers of these people with whom we're in communion as soon as they go to be with the Lord?
We know from Revelation 6:10 that the martyrs cry out to the Lord after their physical death. So, the saints in heaven do pray. We know from James 5:16 that the prayers of the righteous are powerful in their effects. Is it remotely plausible that the prayers of righteous people in heaven should be less effective than the prayers of righteous people on earth? It is not; the saints in heaven have been purified completely. It wouldn't be heaven if the people populating it were still tainted with unrighteousness. Cesare Baronio (1538–1607) put it this way in his prayer addressing St Philip Neri:
And now that the darkness of this world hinders no more those benignant eyes of thine from looking clearly into all things, look down and visit, O most diligent keeper, this vineyard which thy right hand planted with so much labour, anxiety, and peril [emphasis added].
Any taint of selfishness has been removed; the saints in heaven look at the world with pure desire that God's will be done. On earth as it is in heaven.
You compare praying to saints to talking to your in-laws all the time instead of to your husband. But if the occasion ever arose, a good in-law would advise you, "Dearie, it's been lovely to chat with you, but I really think you and ___ need some time on your own together." All the more so would the saints let you know if they thought you were paying attention to them to the detriment of your relationship with God, because the saints are totally devoted to God.
How would your husband feel if, though you continually insisted that his relatives were very nice people whom you greatly admired, you were always busy with something else when he went to his family reunions? If whenever you tried to reach him at his mother's, every single time she answered the phone, you immediately said, "Hi, is ___ there, please?" without pausing to greet her?
I understand that of course there are times when it's your husband you want to talk to, urgently, and really no one else will do, but if you never talked to your in-laws, he might get the impression you thought they weren't good enough for you.
Of course, D___, I don't for a minute imagine you consider the saints in heaven beneath you. No, I'm convinced your reason for not talking to the saints is that you're genuinely trying to protect and enhance your relationship with God by avoiding what you consider would be a distraction for you. But please, look at the evidence. You've come to appreciate what a blessing it is to look at the Cross through a mother's eyes. How would you have found that insight on your own without the help of Christians (of whatever tradition) who are devoted to the Blessed Virgin? Judge by the fruits. St Paul prays for the Ephesians that they "may be filled with all the [fullness] of God" (3:19). Is the tradition of prayer to saints part of the fullness or not?
I encourage you, as I have encouraged others, commit to reading the Magnificat every day for a month. Doing so is perfectly sound--it's Scripture!--and I know it brought immeasurable blessings in my own case.
If you approach Ephesians with an open mind, I think you'll start to see how devotions to saints dovetail neatly with worship of the Holy Trinity.
For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe, according to the working of his great might which he accomplished in Christ when he raised him from the dead and made him sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come; and he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the [fullness] of him who fills all in all. (1:15-23, RSV, emphases added)
(Yes, Christ is above every name that is named. Christ is above St Paul and St Jude and St Peter and the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the other saints. Of course, he's above them! He's God and they're not. They'll be the first to tell you.)
I understand your reluctance. I really do. I've been there.
But be not afraid.