Sunday 26 March 2017

Praying/Speaking for/to the dead.

This Blog has never shied away from controversial topics. My intention is not to upset or offend my loyal and supportive readers, but to open to discussion certain subjects which have often crossed our minds and perhaps left us guessing.

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 Or are they in a Waiting Room somewhere reading out of date newspapers and magazines until the final resurrection?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.

By the fourth century prayers for the dead were already a longstanding custom.

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.


  1. I have had numerous people that have passed on to somewhere else. My first encounter with loss was my father at 8 years old. I continue to pray,talk to him...even not everyday but when he passes my thoughts I pray to God and may ask how are you doing Daddy? It is comfort for myself and to just make sure Daddy knows the love is still there...if God allows us to show that to them.So many questions God has left us with. :)

    1. Thank you so much Judy for taking the time to write in. Yes, you are right. God has left us with so many mysteries; and we should trust Him that He loves us and cares for our well-being.

      I am praying for you and your family.

      God bless.

  2. I am enjoying your explanation of some Catholic beliefs. I think it is important we concentrate on the REALLY important things we agree upon, NOT what I might question.
    Blessings, My Friend!

    1. Hi Lulu,

      It's nice to see you visiting here again. Thanx.

      There are many Catholic beliefs that leave even Catholics confused. The Catholic Church has a lot to answer for.

      Please feel free to question certain things or dogmas. You never know. We may well agree after all. That's why I asked all those questions about where are our dead relatives and can they hear us.

      All views and opinions welcome here.

      God bless you, my friend.

  3. I was surprised to see how varied between different Christian denominations the concept of the afterlife is. I think Catholic teaching is that a soul is judged and sent to one of the three places, and at the end of time our bodies will be resurrected and rejoined with our soul. That's how I understand it. I have no first hand knowledge. ;)

    I too am amused when I get that Catholics aren't Christians.

    1. Hi Manny,

      You're right. Different denominations have different views of what happens when we die.

      When Christ was on the Cross, He told the thief by His side: "Today, you will be in Heaven with me!". He did not say, "You'll spend time in Purgatory first."

      Our Church needs to re-state our beliefs from the pulpit more often, because even Catholics are confused about what we teach.

      As for Catholics not being Christians. This first confused me when I was told. I always assumed I was a Christian. Although I do believe that the earth is flat, and that the sun goes around the earth, and the moon is made of cheese. Gorgonzola, I think! I love Gorgonzola. Don't you?

      God bless you, Manny.

  4. May we all become better students of God's Word. Many of the answers to our questions are there in black and white ... and yes, many clearcut answers have not been given.

    With those questions, I have to trust His wisdom, His faithfulness, His heart. His ways are so much higher than mine, for sure ...

  5. Hi Victor, glad to join in this discussion... just wondering, where did Paul pray for Onesimus after he was dead? I don't recall reading that before.

    In my humble opinion, because there is a resurrection, and a Great White Throne Judgement to come, we can't possibly be judged until that time. I believe we "sleep in Jesus" when we die, until the day when both those dead and alive are resurrected and appear at the White Throne Judgment. It is there the decisions will be made of where we will spend the rest of eternity. But for those who have died, they are simply in a place of rest or "sleep" as the Bible says, until that day. This is my humble opinion from much study on the matter. If not, why would there be a need for a White Throne Judgement, if we are judged immediately at death?

    An interesting topic for sure, and it is always a good thing to try to understand and study as much as we can. There are some things we may not understand for sure. Have a blessed day :)

  6. Thank you SpicingUpIdaho for joining the discussion.

    In Paul's second Letter to Timothy (II Timothy 1:18) he prays for Onesiphorus who by then was dead. (Good News Bible).

    Yes, I've heard that dead people are "asleep" until the Day of Judgement. Yet, some people, Catholics and others, believe that when people die they are in Heaven if they have been "good". Hence the story of Lazarus and the rich man.

    Also, Jesus on the Cross told the thief beside Him that he will be in Heaven the same day. Not wait until the Day of Judgement.

    All this keeps me confused, SpicingUpIdaho. The Catholic Church, of which I am a member, teaches that some people when they die they are in Heaven. Indeed they certify some of them as Saints (e.g. Pope John Paul II and Mother Theresa); yet at the same time the Church encourages us to pray and offer Mass for our dead. They seem to be facing both ways at the same time on this. Which leads to confusion.

    I raised this topic because, like many, I am not too clear about it. Just in case when I die I am in that Waiting Room until Judgement Day I shall take with me my own magazines and favourite books to read. I may even take the books I have written because I have not read them yet.

    Thank you again for joining in. God bless you.



God bless you.