Sunday 10 March 2013

The dead

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?


  1. we ARE on Body, the living and the dead, just as you know.

    One day out of the blue, I asked Agnes Sanford to pray for me. With out missing a beat, I heard within my spirit an amused voice," My dear, you have my undivided attention. I was a Protestant when I was alive you know and no one has ever asked me before."

    1. That's a wonderful story Melanie. Thank you. Our deceased relatives and friends do hear our prayers.

      God bless you always.

  2. Replies
    1. I'm glad that you S'd, Vicky.

      God bless you.

    2. Wow! I didn't think I'd get away with that lazy comment! If you'd done that on my blog, I'd have called you back and made you try harder;-)

      Still, a code system for comments could work for people who are in a hurry. G could mean 'great' and R could mean 'rubbish.' Though, in your case, it could mean 'restricted content'... :-D

      You said this all so well, Victor - it was a great explanation. And, I loved reading Melanie's story, too. Very inspiring!

      God bless, Victor:-)

    3. Your comment is G, Vicky.

      I got into a debate with a non-Catholic who said that praying for the dead is wrong. "They are dead and their fate is sealed - Heaven or hell" so why pray for them? I was told. Also praying TO them was wrong - e.g. to Padre Pio, Mother Teresa etc ... One should only pray to God. Not even to Mary, Joseph and the Saints.

      It was a difficult discussion.

      Thank you for responding, Vicky. Our Catholic Faith must seem strange to others at times.

      God bless you.

    4. Victor, I think that prayers and good deeds add to a spiritual treasure chest which have merit on God's eyes. It could be that the saints' personal merits grant them special favours when it comes to bestowing these gifts and, of course, Our Lady possesses the greatest merit of all.

      I haven't worded this right but, maybe, another way of looking at it could be to think of a father with his children. One deserves a great punishment but another, who always pleases his father, appeals to his loving generosity and begs him to be lenient, perhaps promising to sacrifice in some way to make up for the sins of his brother. I guess the saints can't sacrifice, anymore, but they are very close to the spiritual treasure which feeds the body of Christ.

      Just a few musings:-)

      God bless, Victor:-)

    5. This is very well put, Vicky. It is through the sacrifice of the Saints that God hears our prayers. They intercede on our behalf.

      God bless you.

  3. Victor, you sure are blogging about interesting topics these days.

    I've had this conversation with many religious people, and my takeaway is always the following:

    1) We should pray FOR the deceased.
    2) We should only worship God alone.
    3) We can pray to Jesus to intercede for us.
    4) Most believe we can do the same to Mary. Not worship her, but ask her to interceded for us.
    5) We can honor Mary and other Saints. Honoring is different than worshiping.
    6) All miracles that are attributed to Saints - or even our Blessed Mother - came from God and God alone. He worked them through those people.

    The one question that I've always had a hard time getting an answer to is this: If God hears all our prayers, why should we ask Saints or others to intercede for us?

    It obviously can't hurt to have all these Blessed people interceding for us, but what none of us truly know is what effect that has with our Father.

    Thanks for keeping us thinking, Victor.

    God Bless you.

    1. I agree with your 6 points, Michael.

      I suppose when we pray to/through the Saints, it is like asking someone to put in a good word for you. You know when you apply for a job; you give the name of a person who will vouch for you and say you're a good person. It's a bit the same with praying to the Saints. Although, I suspect God knows that you're OK anyway. Does He really need to hear it from a Saint.

      This is getting me all confused.

      God bless you, Michael.

  4. This was a hard concept for me when I was in my Protestant wandering years. Now, I see it as one of our greatest treasures of the faith.

    You do keep everyone thinking!

    1. Hi Caroline,

      Great to see you visiting again. Thanx.

      I think some of the Catholic beliefs are a little confusing even to Catholics. It's what we call Faith, I suppose.

      God bless you Caroline.

  5. Victor, I loved the example you used of St. Peter! Splendid, truly splendid!

    I believe in asking the dead to pray for us. I lost me brother when he was 3 and I was just 7. I always ask him and 2 premature babies I lost to intercede for me and my family. I always felt that these 3 little saints were up in heaven pleading mercy for us all.

    Thanks for this one, it's very G...

    1. Thank you Daily Grace for your kind words and encouragement. I truly believe that our deceased relatives and friends in Heaven listen to our prayers and can intercede for us with God. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. Perhaps you would ask your 3 little Saints to pray for me. Thank you.

      God bless.

  6. We Catholics must seem a bit crazy to others, especially to Protestants. I know that I have been asked why we pray to saints a number of times. I don't know why intercession is so difficult for some denominations to understand. After all, we do it here on earth all the time.

    I wonder what they'd think of relics? Can you imagine trying to explain that the Church actually has parts of some saints bodies? Or that we display the incorruptibles? I think I'd rather try to explain intercession ;)

    Thanks for posting about this, Victor. God bless!

    1. You said it right, Mary. I find it difficult explaining some of our beliefs to non-Catholics. I think it is because some people just do not WANT to understand.

      God bless you.

  7. "But as for the dead rising again, Moses himself has told you of it in the passage about the burning bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. It is of living men, not of dead men, that he is the God; for him, all men are alive." -Lk. 20:37-38 (Knox Bible)

    1. Thank you Ryan for visiting me here.

      You're so right. God is the God of the living.

      May He bless you always.

  8. Communion of saints - that is, all souls in sanctifying grace. People, including non-Catholics, run prayer chains all over the internet asking the earthly living to pray for this and that. So when someone has died, why not ask for their intercession? It's just a normal conversation with a person who has parted with his earthly body.

    Wow. We venerate all kinds of political figures in this world. How about Lenin's body in Red Square, for example, or the statues of military leaders all over the world? That's not worshiping a deity. When it comes to the saints it helps to think of them as our brothers and sisters who have gone before us in the sign of peace. Would they really forget us or decline to intercede for us? That flies in the face of charity. We know heaven in chock full of charity so if God wants to listen to somebody really holy that He has perfected enough to let them through the pearly gates, ought we to second guess Him?

    On praying for the dead, when I researched this subject one really interesting point I learned was that in the catacombs of Rome are inscriptions asking prayers for the deceased. So from apostolic times this has been a doctrine - purgatory. Actually we got this from the Jews. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that immediately upon death a good person enters heaven, so Purgatory belongs to the category of beliefs we received from the apostles under the category of Sacred Tradition.

    Just my feeble attempt to help out on this subject. Great post, Victor.

  9. Thank you Barbara. A number of non-Catholics don't understand us when we pray to Saints and the souls of the dead.

    God bless you.

  10. I think I offended one of my Catholic friends a while back when I said that I instinctively include talking to my Mum and Dad when I pray. She explained to me that my parents were not saints and therefore I couldn't pray to them - it was sacrilegious. This upset me for a while; no-one had ever called me that before. Now I'm comfortable with the fact that I know my parents have been called to God and are with God. It's as simple as having a new 'phone number for them, with a very exclusive, edx-directory code. Thanks for this post Victor, God bless as always.

    1. There is nothing wrong in praying to one's parents or deceased relatives and friends, Gigi.

      It is no different to praying to Padre Pio, Pere Charbel or other deceased person. If God found favour in them why should we not ask them to intercede for us?

      God bless you always. Please ask your parents to pray for me.


    Is it a sin to pray to the Virgin Mary and other dead saints?

    Matthew 4:10 Then Jesus said to him, "Go Satan! For it is written,' "You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.' "

    Praying to any person or anything is worship.

    WORSHIP DEFINED: To revere, stressing the feeling of awe or devotion. Adoring reverence or regard.

    Any worship of anyone or anything other than God is sin.

    The Virgin Mary is not God nor does she have the power to grant petitions of prayer. If men could pray to dead saints and get them answered, then why not pray to saint Moses, saint John The Baptist, saint Abraham, saint Job, saint Enoch, saint The Thief on The Cross or any other dead saint?

    Dead people cannot hear your prayers and if they could they would not have the power to answer them.

    Prayer is worship and only God deserves our worship.

    God knows our every thought. God is aware of every sin we commit. God knows our every move.

    God is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. Those are the attributes of God and what you would need in order to answer prayer.

    Neither the Virgin Mary, Moses, John The Baptist nor any otherdead saint has the attributes of God. They cannot hear you nor can they answer YOUR PRAYERS.





God bless you.