As a Catholic, I realise that not all my readers are of this Faith; and I welcome them because sometimes what they say gets me thinking and helps me re-assess my position. That is why I have always allowed anonymous comments on my Blog; even though at times I have received rude comments. I have deleted such comments so as not to offend my polite and much appreciated audience.
Some anonymous comments have suggested that as a Catholic I am not a Christian. This has left me puzzled and amused because I always thought I was a Christian; albeit the current Pontiff, Pope Confusion, has perhaps succeeded in obfuscating what our religion stands for. But let's not go there in case he reads my Blog and he'll send round the Spanish Inquisition.
One more thing; I always welcome comments and discussions here, and I pray for all who take the trouble to write in, including anonymous abuse. So the illogical logic to this is that if you are in need of a prayer send in a rude anonymous message!
OK ... preliminaries over, let's get on with today's topic.
We have all had relatives or friends who have passed away; parents, siblings, uncles and aunts and so on.
My question is: Where are they now?
We believe in eternal life after death. So where are our relatives?
Are they in Heaven with God? Or are they in a Waiting Room somewhere reading out of date newspapers and magazines until the final resurrection?
I know the Catholics and other denominations believe in Purgatory. A Purification Centre, like a car wash, where our sins are washed away. But let's not go there right now, (metaphorically as well as literally - I'm not dead yet!).
So ... my first question is where are they now?
Now, assuming that their fate has already been decided by God at the moment of death, and assuming that they are in Heaven, (let's not discuss those who are in the other place for now), my next question is:
Can they hear us when we "speak" to them? Or have they somehow lost the sense of hearing or are too busy learning to play the harp?
You can see where I am going with this.
In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man somehow manages to communicate with Abraham. So from this, I guess, that when we "speak" to our dead relatives they somehow hear us. You know what I mean? After a difficult day we sit down and tell our dead parents how we feel. Or when we visit their graves we somehow remember them and tell them how we're doing?
If that were not so, then I ask my third question:
Why bother visiting the grave?
They are dead and gone. By placing flowers or candles by the grave side it will hardly matter to them. But we do these things. Why do we do so unless we believe that somehow, they are looking down upon us from above?
Are you confused yet? Because I know I am.
Next we come to the controversial matter, (SPOILER ALERT) of praying for the dead. Catholics do it all the time, you know!!!
Why do we (Catholics) pray for the dead? Surely their fate has been decided by God on death; or else they are in the Waiting Room reading magazines.
Will our prayers in any way influence God to change His mind?
Surely if He has judged them, will He say, "On second thoughts, come into Heaven because Vic has been praying for you and you know how he goes on and on!"
Now some people believe that the whole idea of praying for the dead and offering Masses for them is a Catholic ruse in order to get money from the faithful.
NOTE TO POPE: I am quoting peoples' beliefs. It doesn't mean I believe it. So hold back the Inquisition please.
Where does this idea of praying for the dead originates anyway?
Praying for the dead dates as far back as the Old Testament. In the Second Book of Maccabees, Judas and his soldiers prayed so that the sins of their dead comrades may be forgiven. (II Maccabees 12:39-45).
In the New Testament, we read that Paul prayed for Onesiphorus, who had died, that “may the Lord grant him His mercy on that Day!” (II Timothy 1:18).
There is also evidence in the catacombs under Rome that the Roman Christians gathered there to pray for their fellow followers of Christ who lay buried there.
So there seems to be a Biblical connection, if we call it that, about praying for the dead.
Let's now look at another angle.
When I pray for you, (or you for me - and boy do I need it?), I am putting in a good word for you with God. I am asking Him to help you, be with you, at a time of need.
Now I presume He is listening; and sometimes, in His time and in His way, He responds to my prayers, (and yours), and we are grateful for the outcome.
So my final question:
When I pray for a dead relative; is it possible that He listens to me and He has pity and mercy on that person because I asked Him to?
Or is He putting His hands on His ears and saying, "La la. Lalla. La la. I can't hear you. It is too late for those who are dead. Your prayers are a waste of time and effort!"
Over to you.
What do you think?
Anonymous comments welcome.