Today, I wish to talk about something that is perhaps a little controversial, especially amongst non-Catholics: praying for the dead.
As Christians, we believe that our souls live on after our death. And that we shall be with God in Heaven, unless …. OK – no need to go there for now.
So if our deceased relatives and friends are in Heaven with Jesus; should we pray for them as some people do?
They are already in a happier place than down here on earth. Are we praying for God to look after them? – He is already doing that. Are we praying to them and asking them to intercede with God on our behalf? Well, here’s a subject for a debate if there ever was one.
There are people who believe we should not pray to anyone but God alone. So praying to dead relatives (or Saints) to intercede for us is perhaps a step too far.
Or is it?
As Christians, we believe that people like Mary, the mother of Jesus, Joseph, his earthly father, Peter and the other disciples are all in Heaven with God.
Is it wrong therefore to speak to them and say something like: Peter, in your moments of torment and confusion, you denied Christ three times; I’m sure you understand how I feel right now that my Faith is weak. Please help me in increasing and maintaining my Faith. (Or words to that effect).
Is it wrong to relate to a particular person (Saint) who once lived on earth and to communicate with them as we would with God?
In doing so we are not by-passing God, going behind His back, to obtain favours that He would not approve of. We are perhaps, in our human way, relating to someone human like us, who has lived on this earth like us, who has found favour in the eyes of God.
Having spoken or prayed to these individuals, the next question is: Do they respond?
How do you explain the many instances of miracles that happened, and still do, in the name of Saints?
I am thinking about Lourdes, Fatima, Medjugorje as well as other miracles performed as a result of prayers said to people like Padre Pio, Pere Charbel Makhlouf and others.
Did these people have anything to do with the miracles performed? Did God grant the miracles of healings asked for in their name? Or did these people (Saints) themselves perform the miracles (i.e. their living souls)?
Remember, the disciples performed miracles when here on earth – so why not perform them in Heaven?
Certainly questions for interminable debates. Yet, at the end of the day it all boils down to one’s beliefs and one’s Faith.
If we really believe that our departed relatives live on – then why not speak to them in prayer? Why not tell them what kind of day we’ve had? Why not ask them to speak to God on our behalf?
Is it truly that far-fetched a proposition?