Praying for the dead

 


  1. BulletThe dead (righteous ones) are alive


  1. BulletSaints are in heaven.



Objection # 1 - You Catholics pray to the dead as in your Saints. That is idolatry.


Well if the dead are really dead both spiritually and physically, then why   believe in a heaven and hell?  Either way we are doomed once we die physically.  Catholics do not worship Saints, nor the dead and consider it idolatry as well, to worship anybody but God. Catholics do honour the Saints by asking them to pray for us and try to imitate their lives. No Saint was ever perfect but the Bible does encourage us to imitate them


Phil. 3:17 “Be ye followers of me, brethren, and observe them who walk so as you have our model.


Gal. 4:12 “Be ye as I, because I also am as you: brethren, I beseech you: you have not injured me at all.”


1 Thes. 1:“And you became followers of us, and of the Lord; receiving the word in much tribulation, with joy of the Holy Ghost: 7 So that you were made a pattern to all that believe in Macedonia and in Achaia.”


Clearly Paul is telling us here and elsewhere (2 Thess 3:7-9) to follow his examples as he follows Christ.  Ironically the apostle Paul prayed for his deceased friend Onesiphorus in 2 Tim. 1:16-18


“[16] The Lord give mercy to the house of Onesiphorus: because he hath often refreshed me and hath not been ashamed of my chain: [17] But when he was come to Rome, he carefully sought me and found me. [18] The Lord grant unto him to find mercy of the Lord in that day. And in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou very well knowest.


If Paul did not think that his prayers were efficacious then why would he pray for him? Also the practice of praying for the dead was well established centuries before Christ as we read in 2 Maccabees 12:45-46


[45]. And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them. [46]. It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.


Of course the passage also proves the existence of an intermediate state that Catholics call purgatory. Even if you do not accept Maccabees as a book in your Bible, the fact remains that Jews from early times had a belief in praying for the dead, which cannot be denied.


Objection #2 - But 1 Tim 2:5 says “For there is one God, and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus:” If there is one mediator then why turn to Saints?


Catholics do not disagree that there is one mediator between men and God, the man Christ Jesus, but we also believe that Saints can intercede for us. To intercede means to intervene on behalf of another and this is what we believe the Saints in heaven can do. In the book of Tobit 12:12 we read


“[12] When thou didst pray with tears, and didst bury the dead, and didst leave thy dinner, and hide the dead by day in thy house, and bury them by night, I offered thy prayer to the Lord.

[13] And because thou wast acceptable to God, it was necessary that temptation should prove thee.

[14] And now the Lord hath sent me to heal thee, and to deliver Sara thy son's wife from the devil.

[15] For I am the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord.”


Here the angel Raphael presents Tobit and Sarah prayer to Lord. In Rev. 5:8 we also read


And when he had opened the book, the four living creatures, and the four and twenty ancients fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints:”.


The prayers of the Saints being offered to God! Likewise in Eph 6:18-19 we read


[18] By all prayer and supplication praying at all times in the spirit; and in the same watching with all instance and supplication for all the saints: [19] And for me, that speech may be given me, that I may open my mouth with confidence, to make known the mystery of the gospel.”


Clearly in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians not only is Paul talking about making prayers for himself, but for those Saints.  Saints are people who have died and gone to heaven so Paul is clearly telling us that back then, that prayers are to be offered to the Saints.  Other supporting passages include 2 Thess. 1:11, 3:1; Zech 1:12-16 and Rom. 8:35-39.


Objection #3 – But dead people cannot hear you? Why waste time?


The reality is our God is a God of the living and not of the dead as Mark 12:26-27 tells us


[26] And as concerning the dead that they rise again, have you not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spoke to him, saying: I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? [27] He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”


It is clear therefore that those are with God are living and are not dead. As further proof we recall that Moses and Elijah conversed with Jesus at his transfiguration in Mark 9:4,


And Peter answering, said to Jesus: Rabbi, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias (Elijah).”


Clearly Moses and Elijah were alive as the Gospel story tells us. Not in our bodily form, but in one approaching that of Jesus transfiguration. The Bible also tells us that death cannot separate us from Christ (Rom. 8:35-39), but those in heaven belong to his body, that Communion of Saints in heaven.  In Rev 7:15 we read of they that stand before God worshipping him day and night.


Therefore they are before the throne of God, and they serve him day and night in his temple: and he, that sitteth on the throne, shall dwell over them.”


They do not sound dead to me to be able to serve him night and day! In the story of the Rich man and Lazarus we have the rich man having a conversation with Abraham begging him to intercede for his brothers back on earth.


Questions:


We breathe air yet we can’t see it but we believe it exists. What is stopping people in heaven for not hearing us?


Angels exist and we believe they play an important role in our lives, so even though the physical world and the spiritual world are separated communication exists between the two worlds in dreams and voices. Can you prove otherwise?