The claim that Mary, who is dead by the way, can answer prayer is troubling to me. Doesn’t this mean Catholic think of her as some sort of deity?
No one teaches that Mary is a Deity. The fact that someone has a “place” in the Kingdom of God, an elevated place of honour and power does not make them equal or hierarchically close to God. Christ said his Apostles would sit on 12 thrones “judging the twelve tribes of Israel”. This is possible since the power of God is infinite, and no honour he confers to a mortal being can ever diminish his glory and honour. He is Infinite and “cannot” create another Infinity, for could infinity
Prayer and Worship
The problem is that we confuse a simple request to a Saint with an act of worship just because they’re Spirits. However, the nature of the communion of saints means that we all are ONE. Those in heaven and on earth are united in one body, one spirit in Christ. We all breathe the Same Spirit of God, and they aren’t “there”, but are “here” with us. When we address them, we do not worship them, nor do we ascribe the status of deity to them, we merely acknowledge them as elder brothers in the Family of the Father, we ask them to lovingly chip in a word or two for our sake. And this is absolutely reasonable.
If you say they’re dead, I doubt that since I am a Christian precisely because Christ has power over death. If Jesus didn’t have power over death, and consequently no power to raise us up, there won’t be any need to adhere to him as God. Easter is the most important feast in the Church since it is the culmination of Christ’s salvific work. He promised, through the prophets and with his own mouth to rise on the third day and by this resurrection to show us that anyone who is in him cannot die anymore.
So the Saints, including Mary, aren’t dead. They are more alive than those of us still on earth. They are not hindered by time or space, they’re not hindered by many sicknesses and worries. They are free and are way more powerful than you can tell.
Mary hears our prayers, she hears the prayers of a multitude of people who come to her only because God has given her power and office of distrubuting his mercies on her children. This does not make her a deity but makes her co-worker with her Son in the salvation of mankind.