Prayer for the Dead

by Jimmy Akin

in Apologetics

A reader writes:

I was wondering if you have any article about prayer for the dead?

People are asking me different questions, because of the Evangelicals who say: What is the biblical basis to pray for the dead? As you know, bringing proofs from the book Maccabees is not enough,

Another connected issue, those in purgatory needs prayer to go to heaven, right?

The question was: What if two different people go to purgatory, one has a rich family, so they will keep praying and offering Masses for him, while the other is poor, and no body will -pay- and pray for him, so the poor man can stay -longer- in the purgatory, while the rich man can pass quickly to heaven.

How you answer these questions? What are our biblical grounds?   

Not all questions can be answered in a way that offers Bible verses as evidence. In fact, not all questions can be answered at all. There are many things we human simply don’t know the answer to, because God hasn’t told them to us, and there are also many things in life that have answers that don’t involve the Bible at all, like how to solve the quadratic equation or where to find the gas station with the cheapest gas or how to make chop suey.

I think it is important to point these things out when dealing with the "Where is that in the Bible?" mentality.

It is also important to point out that, even when dealing with questions that do involve theology, we are Catholics and therefore do not need to provide answers within the confines of sola Scriptura.

As Catholics, we draw information from and our theology is shaped by not only Scripture but also Tradition, the formulations of the Magisterium, philosophy, human nature (i.e., natural law) reasoning, etc.

So, if you are dealing with Catholics who are being pestered by Evangelicals who are demanding that questions be answered on Evangelicals’ terms, it is important to remind the Catholics that they are not Evangelicals and should not slide into the mindset of Evangelicals of trying to answer everything from the Bible. That would cut them off from the other sources of information they have, and it would be as foolish as trying to do theology with just a quarter of what the Bible says rather than what the whole of the Bible says.

Just as we want to accept all of the Bible when we do theology, we also should accept everything that God has revealed to us for these purposes, and that goes beyond what is in the Bible.

An Evangelical might not accept that, but even he should agree to the principle of accepting all of God’s revelation, even if he disagrees about the extent of God’s revelation.

I therefore would question whether citing Maccabees is "not enough" as proof of prayer for the dead. It may not be enough for Protestants, because this book was removed from their Old Testament precisely in order to get rid of the passage dealing with prayer for the dead, but since this passage remains in the Catholic Bible, it should be enough for Catholics.

A Catholic thus might say to an Evangelical, "This passage is in my Bible. I accept it. So it is enough for me. It may not be enough for you because you do not find it in your Bible, but you should think about why that is: The reason is that your religious forebears took this passage out of the Protestant Old Testament precisely because they didn’t like what it said."

A Catolic might continue by pointing out that prayer for the dead was a practice rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition even before the time of Christ, as witnessed by the passage in 2 Maccabees, that Jews still pray for the dead today, and that the vast majority of Christians (i.e., Catholic plus Orthodox and other Eastern Christians) pray for the dead. It is only Protestants who do not.

Therefore, one could argue that if we accept that the Judeo-Christian tradition represents the line of religious belief that, in its broad outlines, is true and that God has worked with to shape, and if a particular practice is acknowledged by the great majority of this tradition, then it would seem that it should be those who do not accept the practice in question should have to argue for why it should not be accepted.

Thus ask the Evangelical: "What is your biblical argument that we should not pray for the dead? In particular, in view of St. Paul’s emphasis on Christian liberty, where is your biblical proof that Christians should not have the liberty to pray for their departed loved ones?"

They may respond by arguing that Jesus paid everything, that the saved are justified and have had their sins removed, etc.–all the standard stuff.

The standard stuff that Evangelicals say here is all true–God has provided salvation to the uttermost to the saved–but it ignores the question of how God has chosen to implement that salvation.

Human experience (along with the Bible) shows that when God saves someone, he does not instantly give the person all the benefits of eschatological salvation, including perfect sinlessness, freedom from concupiscence, the Beatific Vision, an augmented nature that will let us pass thru sealed tombs and enter locked rooms, etc.

It is clear, instead, that while God may have forgiven and justified us, he has chosen to implement the other benefits of salvation as a process. We see part of this process over the course of our lives, as he leads us to grow in holiness. We also have to deal with the consequences of our sins, even when they have been forgiven and will no longer cause us to be damned, as when we must pay back money we have stolen or repair harm that we have done.

This is part of God’s will for the process by which he brings us to heaven, even though it was his Son’s death on the Cross that paid for all of this.

We see part of the process by which God implements our salvation in this life. We do not see what he does in the next, where he may continue to implement it by a process or where he may implement the rest of it all at once (except for the resurrected body part, which we know is later on).

Either way, it is still rational for us to pray for our departed. We love them, and it is natural for us to ask God to help them and be kind to them. If there is a process that they must still undergo as their salvation is implemented, God can help them with that process. If it all happens in an instant, God can help them in that instant–even if the instant is already in the past from our perspective since God is outside of time.

Either way, it is natural for us to ask God to help those we love who have died, and if we do not do so then we either do not really love them or we are in the grip of a theology that asks us to do the unnatural rather than the natural.

It is the Evangelical’s theology that asks us to do something unnatural and to restrain our feelings of love and affection for our departed loved ones by not asking God to help them, and there is no solid basis in the Bible, or anywhere else, for asking this of us.

The reader also wrote: "Another connected issue, those in purgatory needs prayer to go to heaven, right?"

Actually, I wouldn’t put it that way. They don’t "need" prayers to go to heaven. They will go to heaven whether we pray for them or not. We merely ask that God help them as they do this, either by making the implementation of their salvation quicker or easier or in whatever way God knows that they need help. Our prayers thus may help them, but they don’t "need" them.

As to the case of a person with a rich family, this plays off anti-Catholic stereotyping that dates back to the Protestant Reformation whereby Catholic priests are depicted as trying to extort money out of the faithful by saying Masses for the dead.

Well, when a Mass stipend is $5 or $10 (or whatever the local limit is in the diocese), nobody is going to get rich off that. This is a red herring.

But let’s turn the question around and take money and death out of the picture: Suppose that there are two people who are sick, one of whom has a big family to pray for them and one of whom has nobody to pray for them. Which person will God heal more quickly, and if he does heal one more quickly than the other, how can that be fair?

The answer to the first question is that we don’t know who God will heal first. Prayer is not a magical incantation that produces results mechanically, the more it is done. Answers to our prayers are based on God’s choice, and God can choose to answer one more quickly than another. Our job is to do our part by building love for other and love and trust for God by praying.

We also know that God has special care for those who are in hard circumstances–like having nobody to pray for them–and thus he may heal this person first in spite of the fact that nobody was praying for them.

We also know that, ultimately, all healing is a gift of God and thus it is fair for him to give it to whomever he wants, so even if he does first heal the person with a big family praying for them, that’s his choice and the appropriate response on our part is to thank him for the healing.

All of this answers the parallel questions about purgatory: We don’t know who would have their purification completed first, it’s a matter of God’s choice; God has a special care for those with no one to pray for them; and being purified is a gift of God’s grace to begin with, for which our response should be thankfulness.

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{ 110 comments }

Josh August 6, 2008 at 12:11 pm

Concise yet thorough. Excellent. Thanks Jimmy.

Arturo Vasquez August 6, 2008 at 12:53 pm

Well, if you can baptize the dead in Scripture, I don’t know why you can’t pray for them.
There is a tradition in Spanish folk Catholicism of the “anima sola” or lonely soul who has no one to pray for her. If you around Hispanics, you might see her image. It is a woman burning in the flames of purgatory. She is the soul who has no one to pray for her, and it is deemed that if you pray for her, she will pray for you once she gets to Heaven since she will be so grateful. My grandmother during the rosary always prays, “may all the soul of Purgatory, especially the ones most in need of our prayers, through the mercy of God rest in peace…” So Catholic piety, at least where I come from, has that covered.

SDG August 6, 2008 at 1:24 pm

But let’s turn the question around and take money and death out of the picture: Suppose that there are two people who are sick, one of whom has a big family to pray for them and one of whom has nobody to pray for them. Which person will God heal more quickly, and if he does heal one more quickly than the other, how can that be fair?

Excellent counterpoint Jimmy. Great answer.

Liturgy question August 6, 2008 at 2:03 pm

Jimmy Quick question:
What are the rubrics for praying the Office of the Dead. Can one just pray it anytime…or not on a feast or solemnity?
Also can one pray this daily office as well as the Office of the Dead.
Thanks

Anonymous August 6, 2008 at 2:07 pm

Count me as one of those with a “Where do you find that in the Bible” mentality.
“There are many things we human simply don’t know the answer to, because God hasn’t told them to us, and there are also many things in life that have answers that don’t involve the Bible at all, like how to solve the quadratic equation or where to find the gas station with the cheapest gas or how to make chop suey.”
These are non-issues. Praying for the dead is precisely the kind of matter you’d expect to find in the Bible. If it were true.
You and your Organization have no warrant to pray for the dead.

Anonymous August 6, 2008 at 2:10 pm

Count me as one of those with a “Where do you find that in the Bible” mentality.
“There are many things we human simply don’t know the answer to, because God hasn’t told them to us, and there are also many things in life that have answers that don’t involve the Bible at all, like how to solve the quadratic equation or where to find the gas station with the cheapest gas or how to make chop suey.”
These are non-issues. Praying for the dead is precisely the kind of matter you’d expect to find in the Bible. If it were true.
You and your Organization have no warrant to pray for the dead.

David B. August 6, 2008 at 2:14 pm

Anon,
Check thou out DA RULZ

Matheus F. Ticiani August 6, 2008 at 2:14 pm

Dear Blank Space

Praying for the dead is precisely the kind of matter you’d expect to find in the Bible. If it were true.

This is a non-issue. Jimmy has just showed that it is in the Bible, indeed. And don’t say that it isn’t in your bible because…he’s just written about it also.
You and your organization (or lack thereof) have no warrant not to pray for the dead.

David B. August 6, 2008 at 2:15 pm

Praying for the dead is precisely the kind of matter you’d expect to find in the Bible.
And you do.

David B. August 6, 2008 at 2:15 pm

Matheus F. Ticiani August 6, 2008 at 2:16 pm

…and someone please do the “Italics off!” thing for me

David B. August 6, 2008 at 2:16 pm

Off I say!!!

Don August 6, 2008 at 2:16 pm

“You and your Organization have no warrant to pray for the dead.”
As Jimmy pointed out, even if you don’t accept that Maccabees is canonical, at the very least you have to admit that it is an authentic text dating to about 100 years before the time of Christ, and that therefore it presents evidence that prayer for the dead was a venerable custom already present when Jesus walked the earth. If it were not true, don’t you think that Jesus would have spoken against it?

CatholicDeacon August 6, 2008 at 2:19 pm

“Praying for the dead is precisely the kind of matter you’d expect to find in the Bible.” Actually… Since the bible is basically a manual on how to get to heaven it makes more sense to point out the things that you should avoid so you do not get deviated from your goal, so if praying for the dead were one those things your would expect that this would be clearly stated as as for example, praying TO the dead is.

Anonymous August 6, 2008 at 2:22 pm

CT August 6, 2008 at 2:27 pm

Well, when a Mass stipend is $5 or $10 (or whatever the local limit is in the diocese), nobody is going to get rich off that.
First the amount of money involved does not affect whether or not it is simony, however simony is defined (i.e. on any definition of simony the amount of money doesn’t affect whether something is simony or not).
Second, when I was a Catholic I worked in a church and while I cannot speak to what the limit was on the stipend itself (i.e. the amount of money that went to the priest directly or personally), when someone wanted a Mass said for a loved one there were options which cost a whole lot more than $5 or $10. There were some “fancy” cards that one could get along with the Mass and the whole package if you will could cost a whole lot more depending on how “fancy” the card was (I don’t remember the exact figures but it was several times more than $10 for the most expensive Mass intention+card package). The cheaper option was available too. I was also instructed to forgo any payment if the person expressed financial hardship. Speaking of which while $5 or $10 may not be much for a priest even when multiplied by the thousands or more Mass intentions he may say over the course of a lifetime, it may be a lot relatively speaking for a poor person (especially if the poor person would want not just one Mass said for a loved one but say hundreds … I don’t know how much it costs in bulk but when I was Catholic a Catholic couple once gave me a card indicating that a Mass would be said for me for a whole year or something or other at some monastery or other).
There are also customary or is it regulatory fees associated with certain other sacraments (like marriage for instance) as well as fees for legal rulings like d. of nullity (I am not aware of whether the fees for legal rulings can be waived).
Be that as it may, it cannot be denied that in history ecclesiastical posts were associated with financial motive. Even the hagiography of Thomas Aquinas mentions how some of his family wished him to be a wealthy land-holding abbot.
I didn’t understand JA’s final points. If intercessory prayer does not ceteris paribus make it more likely that the intention prayed for will come about than in the prayer’s absence — which I take JA to be denying or at least being agnostic on — then in what meaningful sense can it be said to be efficacious? And is not an intercessory prayer efficacious just in case that had that prayer (or set of prayers) not been made that the intention prayed for would not have come into being? And if so, then how can it be denied that ceteris paribus intercessory prayer makes it more likely that the itnention prayed for will come about?
Now if I take JA to be not be denying or being agnostic on the ceteris paribus qualified proposition, then while it is certainly true that one may still be non-commital about whether in any given case one who receives much intercessory prayer will fare better than one who doesn’t, it cannot be consistently denied that one who receives much intercessory prayer is more likely to fare better, ceteris paribus, than one who doesn’t.
I don’t however see this as a new special kind of criticism of Christianity (or Catholicism) distinct from other criticisms such as why rich people in general have an advantage in receiving various goods. Here we are dealing with spiritual goods as opposed to largely “material” goods, but I don’t see a fundamental difference that makes the former case any more especially unfair than the latter, even though the latter involves a commensurability that is somewhat absent in the former.

CT August 6, 2008 at 2:43 pm

Since the bible is basically a manual on how to get to heaven it makes more sense to point out the things that you should avoid so you do not get deviated from your goal
One can legitimately ask why if God had foreknown that spelling certain things out more explicitly in books that were to be of (more or less) undisputed canonicity would have reduced the divisions in Christianity did God not do so? One could suppose that spelling certain things out more explicitly in a book and the book maintaining (more or less) undisputed canonicity are not compossible.
This line of inquiry would also lead one to ask why God doesn’t generate phenomena that would manifestly and universally establish the truth of the religion. Perhaps the generations of such things is in every case not compossible with some other thing that God values more.
Whereas with any other hypothesis these kinds of things can be considered as evidence against it, the God hypothesis as it involves a being beyond our ken immunizes itself from these kinds of disconfirmations. One could even perversely argue that some inexplicable property of the world, inexplicable on God, is in fact confirmation (in the technical sense of the word, meaning lending some credence to however insignficantly) for the God hypothesis insofar as such things are expected when a being beyond our ken with power beyond our ken exists.

The Masked Chicken August 6, 2008 at 3:11 pm

Dear Ct,
Jimmy did not say that the prayers were not answered. He did say that how they were answered is up to God. Even on earth, we see this. Two people pray for healing. One is healed, the other is not, but both have benefited by the prayer. I leave it to you as an exercise to figure out how. When you do, you will understand Jimmy’s point.
The Chicken

Thomas E. Vaughan August 6, 2008 at 3:53 pm

CT, with regard to explicitness, one can be more specific than merely relying on God’s being beyond our ken. In order to pose your concern most fairly, you might perhaps need to treat the idea that God places a high value on human freedom.
With regard to prayer, we know as Catholics just that God desires us to pray and that prayer is efficacious. We shouldn’t pretend to know how this works, especially as a prayer in the future can affect a past event or as a prayer in the present can allow a participation in eternity.

CT August 6, 2008 at 4:28 pm

On any possible worlds counterfactual analysis of efficaciousness where the relevant possible world examined is the one nearest the actual world, it is difficult to see how that possible world could be one with a past that differs with respect to the intention retroactively prayed for. Thus, it is difficult to see how prayer in the present can affect a past event on such an analysis.
In addition if something in the past was effected by God on the basis of something one does now in the present, since what one does now is logically entailed by that then effecting-by-God-on-the-basis-of-something-to-happen-in-the-future, it is difficult to see how any robust account of free will can hold.

Skygor August 6, 2008 at 4:30 pm

@Liturgy question
There aren’t any official rubrics but you can find some in the Catholic Encyclopedia, breviary.net, or the rubrics in the Breviary or Christian Prayer themselves. The only bar IIRC is that the Office of the Dead cannot be said on a Sunday or Solemnity since those take higher priority. The exception of course is All Soul’s Day.

Mary August 6, 2008 at 5:40 pm

One can legitimately ask why if God had foreknown that spelling certain things out more explicitly in books that were to be of (more or less) undisputed canonicity would have reduced the divisions in Christianity did God not do so?
Begs the question.
We are told there are people who will not believe even though someone rises from the dead. This at least points to there being people of enormous obstinancy. Why would they be defenseless before an explicit statement that they are wrong?
Given that Martin Luther was able to preach “faith alone” in spite of knowing the Bible refutes it — and deliberately mistranslating Scripture to promulgate it, and calling a canonical work a letter of straw to prevent its being undermined — I think we can safely say that people can believe what they want to believe.

Kasia August 6, 2008 at 6:30 pm

If intercessory prayer does not ceteris paribus make it more likely that the intention prayed for will come about than in the prayer’s absence — which I take JA to be denying or at least being agnostic on — then in what meaningful sense can it be said to be efficacious?
I’m no scholar, but I would put it this way:
God’s not a genie in a bottle. Praying for something doesn’t mean that that prayer will be affirmatively answered. (If it did, I suspect a lot more people would be winning the lottery.)
But prayer, including intercessory prayer, is pleasing to God, and can be efficacious. But sometimes, we just want something that, for some reason, God sees we shouldn’t have.
When Corrie ten Boom was in prison, she prayed that she and her sister would not be sent to a concentration camp. But they were, and her sister died there. Over time, though, Corrie was able to see a larger context for the suffering she and her sister endured, and even to see a larger context for her sister’s death.
Does that help at all?

Mary Kay August 6, 2008 at 7:28 pm

Thus, it is difficult to see how prayer in the present can affect a past event on such an analysis.
That’s true if you’re dealing with chronos time, but kairos time is not sequential (or chronological, if you will) and so something may be possible in kairos time that is not possible in chronos time.

Eileen R August 6, 2008 at 10:52 pm

Begging your pardon, CT, but those are non-Christian objections to Christianity. The topic Jimmy is addressing here are Evangelical objections to Catholicism. Obviously, there will be a common ground assumed in arguments/debates about this subject that wouldn’t be in a discussion with non-Christians. You may, of course, discuss the topic, but I think you’re jumping in on missing answers that aren’t here because they’re not really to the point. The question isn’t, “Does this make sense from my point of view?” but “Does this make sense from a traditional Christian point of view?”

CT August 7, 2008 at 1:54 am

But prayer, including intercessory prayer, is pleasing to God, and can be efficacious. But sometimes, we just want something that, for some reason, God sees we shouldn’t have.
I recognize that. But that would mean sometimes it is efficacious and sometimes it isn’t which would entail (the double usage is deliberate here) ceteris paribus that ceteris paribus intercessory prayer makes it more likely that an intention will be brought about than it would be in its absence. Yet JA seems to either deny that, be agnostic on that, or perhaps simply not address that in his analysis.
“Does this make sense from a traditional Christian point of view?”
Reason and logic is something universal. If something is logically inconsistent or incoherent then it is so on any view. A Christian point of view cannot render a tautology false or the negatino of a tautology true nor can it with faithfulness to reason make it immune from logical analysis.
That’s true if you’re dealing with chronos time, but kairos time is not sequential (or chronological, if you will) and so something may be possible in kairos time that is not possible in chronos time.
You’ll have to provide some kind of technical analysis of that which would render what I claimed untrue.

Seán Wright August 7, 2008 at 2:23 am

Nice one Jimmy.

Mary Kay August 7, 2008 at 3:15 am

You’ll have to provide some kind of technical analysis of that which would render what I claimed untrue.
Why?
What’s your difficulty with chronos and kairos time?
On what basis do you claim that your perception of any given topic is true unless proven untrue?

Barbara August 7, 2008 at 5:53 am

As Steve Ray likes to ask, “What makes them think that the saints are dead?”
Which usually leads to the assertion that the saints can’t ‘hear’ us. However, Rev. 6:9-10 offers evidence that they are at least aware of certain aspects on Earth, otherwise they would not be aware that they themselves had not had justice done in regard to their own persecution.
As far as purgatory, I was once challenged on the fact that ‘to be absent from the body, is to be with the Lord’ (2 Cor. 5:6-8); to which I replied, “since Jesus is the one doing the purging, one would need to be with Jesus in order to be purged”.
So, what often keeps a non-Catholic from seeing Catholic teaching is an either/or mentality. If they can see the both/and scenario, it is sometimes a step in the right direction.

JohnD August 7, 2008 at 8:42 am

2Tim 1:16-18 – Paul prays for dead friend Onesiphorus
Source:
http://www.geocities.com/thecatholicconvert/biblecheatsheet.html

Rosemarie August 7, 2008 at 8:43 am

+J.M.J+
I’m curious why 2 Timothy 1:16-18 didn’t come up in this discussion. In that passage, St. Paul speaks of his friend, Onesiphorus, in the past tense only. He also prays that his friend’s family be blessed by God, but not that Onesiphorus himself be blessed. His only prayer for his friend is that God will have mercy on him on Judgment Day. (Later, in chapter 4 verse 19, he asks St. Timothy to greet “the household of Onesiphorus,” but again, not Onesiphorus himself.)
This all seems very strange if he’s talking about someone who is still alive (maybe just on a journey or something) but it all makes perfect sense if Onesiphorus were dead. So this passage is widely believed to be further Scriptural evidence for prayers for the dead.
Yeah, I know St. Paul doesn’t explicitly state, “Onesiphorus fell asleep in Christ,” but that would be unnecessary if St. Timothy already knew that the man was dead. Like I said, it really sounds like he’s talking about someone who is no longer on earth.
In Jesu et Maria,

Rosemarie August 7, 2008 at 8:50 am

Ha! Someone beat me to it by a minute or so :-)
In Jesu et Maria,

The Masked Chicken August 7, 2008 at 9:10 am

I promised myself I would not get into a philosophical discussion, but I think I should comment on what CT said, since possible world logic, counterfactual logic, and temporal logic happen to be areas in which I do research.
First off, CT wrote:
On any possible worlds counterfactual analysis of efficaciousness where the relevant possible world examined is the one nearest the actual world, it is difficult to see how that possible world could be one with a past that differs with respect to the intention retroactively prayed for.
Why? Imagine an alpha-world (i.e., the original world of discourse) where there is only one person – call him, John. There are ten cars. Now, let us mark start time, Xo (a time before relevant events unfold – assume this is possible to specify (an assumption, to be sure, but necessary to keep the discussion from having to specify every time event in the world history).
There are two world lines that diverge on exactly one point: at time Xw, in worldline 1, John has a green car and at time Xw in worldline 2, John has a red car. There are actually two types of time-oriented prayers that can be made: present-to-past (PP) and present-to-future (PF), so this splits up the analysis, sonewhat. There is no past-to-past or future-to-future prayer, for obvious reasons (prayers, in this life, are always made in the present tense).
Had John not prayed (PF prayer), he would have arrived at time Xw in worldline 2 with the red car. He prayed for the color he liked and he arrived in the alpha-world with the green car. In this case, the alpha-world and worldline1 have a counterfactual distance of zero. No one said that the smallest possible distance between two possible worlds could not be zero, just in the case that they are identical.
John knows that the red car was a possible choice in another possible world that did not get realized. Was the future changed by his prayer? The future was split at the point of prayer into two diverging possible worlds, 1 and 2. The prayer provided what is known as a counterfactual access point from worldline 2 to worldline 1. Just because there is an access point that comes into existence because of the prayer does not mean that passage is granted from one worldline to the other. It merely means that another contingent worldline has come into existence.
Imagine the other case. John, at time Xw+1 decides to pray: No, give me the red car (a PP prayer). Can this prayer ever be realized? The answer is yes, but there are restrictions on who may know this. To begin with, prayer, by the very nature of the fact that it is answered, is realized either in the present or future-present. Time, for humans (so far) is a one-way trip. Now, what happens with prayer from the present which is meant to influence the past is that the realization of the answered prayer can only occur in the present or future-present, so that prayer of this type still creates not a contingent past, but a contingent future in which the past was changed. Since we only have a memory of the actual past, we would then view the original past as a contingent past, even though it were originally to have been the actual past. The flow of memory will have jumped from one worldline to the other via the counterfactual access point created by the prayer, however, one’s memory can only pass through realized point in the alpha-world and hence, even if your prayer was answered, it would still seem like the present got here without the prayer. The original worldline would become a merely contingent one.
So, prayers can or cannot affect the past depending upon whether or not passage is granted from the original worldline to the prayed for worldline. Even though an access point was created, it does not have to be realized. If it is realized, it is realized as the actual worldline and not a contingent one. Humans are not capable of being aware of two realized pasts or futures at once.
Someone outside of the possible worlds (God) would be able to see the process for what it were. They would see the changes, if any were made. It would look like the mirror image of the PF type of prayer. In both cases, while one may imagine other unrealized contingencies, one has the present that one has. Memory of any changes actually havening taken place in either the past or the present are absent.
Even at the quantum level, for time periods below the Heisenberg time, the direction of time loses meaning and processes become symmetric. This is not exactly like the case here, but even in purely materialistic cases, time can behave in a symmetric fashion, so why not prayer? The process of PF or PP prayer has same dynamics. In either case, we do not see the actual change.
I hope that this answers, to some extent, your objection:
Thus, it is difficult to see how prayer in the present can affect a past event on such an analysis.
Simply put, prayer can affect the past, but you would not know it. Should you then pray? The fact that the past was changed means that you did pray. Does this mean that you lose free will? No, you simply lose your memory of using your free will (which is a different thing). I hope that this answers your second point:
In addition if something in the past was effected by God on the basis of something one does now in the present, since what one does now is logically entailed by that then effecting-by-God-on-the-basis-of-something-to-happen-in-the-future, it is difficult to see how any robust account of free will can hold.
Essentially, Mary Kay is correct, although incomplete: Chronological time and what she calls Kairoic time (an oxymoron, of a sort) are two different viewpoints. They do, however, interact. Since this is a post about Purgatory, I don’t want to get into how this happens (it give a fuller answer of the question about how one can have free will and yet have a determined past – maybe I’ll post something if the topic of predestination comes up).
Although I suspect that you will have difficulties with my short analysis, above, in any event, since itself Purgatory does not involve possible worlds (there are NO contingencies in Purgatory – contingencies only in this life, which unfortunately, can make it seem as if Purgatory had contingency – but both the prayers and the contingencies come from this life), and Jimmy did not bring up the subject of prayer affecting the past, I will stop, here.
I do not want to see this thread devolve into a discussion about predestination.
Jimmy’s point was a quantity vs. quality point. Obviously, God hears all prayers, but his arithmetic is not the same as the one we use. One prayer might do more good than five prayers. Since the Mass is of infinite merit, one, five, who is to say. I think we should let the Infinite deal with the infinite.
The Chicken

Chaka August 7, 2008 at 10:16 am

The problem with most protest who reject prayer for the dead is that they fail to place the practice in its historical context.Whether you accept the canonicity of Second Maccabees or not,the book shows that the belief that prayer is profitable for the dead already exist among the jews in the second century before Christ.That the jews continue to accept this belief in first centuries of Christain era is evident from certain ancient jewish works,like ‘Sifre to Deutronomy[a Midrash]‘and ‘The Testament of Abraham[First or second century AD]‘,which speak of suffrages for the dead.Therefore,Christ and the Apostles,who were jews,must have been familiar with the belief that prayer is profitable for the dead.But did they accept it?This is where the historical testimony for the Church’s practice of prayer for the dead comes in.If it can proved historically that prayer for the dead was practiced and accepted in the Church in the earliest days of christainity,then it must be accepted that Christ and the Apostles accepted that practice because the early Church could not have adopted that practice from judaism through the pharisees or rabbis.No,the only way the early Church could have carried over that practice from judaism would be if her founder Jesus Christ and the Apostles,who as jews were familar with that practiced,accepted it.After all,this was the only way the early Church carried over several other beliefs and practices from judaism which the majority of protestants today still accept with us(i.e reality of hell,resurrection of the dead,immortality of the soul,e.t.c).Now,can it be proved historically that prayer for the dead was practiced and accepted in the Church in the earliest days of Christianity? Yes,it can. Check out the following testimonies from ancient Christian literature which dates from the second to fifth century AD:
ACTS OF PAUL AND THECLA (160AD):
“And after the exhibition, Tryphaena again receives her. For her daughter Falconilla had died, and said to her in a dream: Mother, thou shaft have this stranger Thecla in my place, in order that she may pray concerning me, and that I may be transferred to the place of the just.”
THE PASSION OF PERPETUA AND FELICITIAS (202AD):
“Without delay, on that very night, this was shown to me in a vision. I saw Dinocrates going out from a gloomy place, where also there were several others, and he was parched and very thirsty, with a filthy countenance and pallid colour, and the wound on his face which he had when he died. This Dinocrates had been my brother after the flesh, seven years of age? who died miserably with disease…But I trusted that my prayer would bring help to his suffering; and I prayed for him every day until we passed over into the prison of the camp, for we were to fight in the camp-show. Then was the birth-day of Gets Caesar, and I made my prayer for my brother day and night, groaning and weeping that he might be granted to me.Then, on the day on which we remained in fetters, this was shown to me. I saw that that place which I had formerly observed to be in gloom was now bright; and Dinocrates, with a clean body well clad, was finding refreshment. And where there had been a wound, I saw a scar; and that pool which I had before seen, I saw now with its margin lowered even to the boy’s navel. And one drew water from the pool incessantly, and upon its brink was a goblet filled with water; and Dinocrates drew near and began to drink from it, and the goblet did not fail. And when he was satisfied, he went away from the water to play joyously, after the manner of children, and I awoke. Then I understood that he was translated from the place of punishment.”
[The Passion of Perpetua and Felicitias,2:3-4]
TERTULLIAN (150-230/240):
“As often as the anniversary comes round, we make offerings for the dead as birthday honours.”
[The Chaplut,3]
“[A] woman is more bound when her husband is dead…Indeed,she prays for his soul,and requests refreshment for him meanwhie, and fellowship(with him) in the first resurrection;and she offers(her sacrifice) on the anniversary of his falling asleep.”[On Monogamy,10]
ST.CYPRAIN (d.258AD):
“The bishops our predecessors religiously considering this, and wholesomely providing for it, decided that no brother departing should name a cleric for executor or guardian; and if any one should do this, no offering should be made for him, nor any sacrifice be celebrated for his repose. For he does not deserve to be named at the altar of God in the prayer of the priests, who has wished to call away the priests and ministers from the altar. And therefore, since Victor, contrary to the rule lately made in council by the priests, has dared to appoint Geminius Faustinus, a presbyter, his executor, it is not allowed that any offering be made by you for his repose, nor any prayer be made in the church in his name, that so the decree of the priests, religiously and needfully made, may be kept by us; and, at the same time, an example be given to the rest of the brethren, that no one should call away to secular anxieties the priests and ministers of God who are occupied with the service of His altar and Church. For care will probably be taken in time to come that this happen not with respect to the person of clerics any more, if what has now been done has been punished. I bid you, dearest brethren, ever heartily farewell”[ Epistle 65,2]
ARNOBIUS (284-305):
For why, indeed, have our writings deserved to be given to the flames? our meetings to be cruelly broken up, in which prayer is made to the Supreme God, peace and pardon are asked for all in authority, for soldiers, kings, friends, enemies, for those still in life, and those freed from the bondage of the flesh; in which all that is said is such as to make men humane, gentle, modest, virtuous, chaste, generous in dealing with their substance, and inseparably united to all embraced in our brotherhood?,[Against the Heathen,4,36]
EUSEBIUS PAMPILIUS (265-339):
As soon as [Constantius] had withdrawn himself with the military train, the ministers of God came forward, with the multitude and the whole congregation of the faithful, and performed the rites of Divine worship with prayer. At the same time the tribute of their praises was given to the character of this blessed prince, whose body rested on a lofty and conspicuous monument, and the whole multitude united with the priests of God in offering prayers for his soul, not without tears—nay, rather with much weeping; thus performing an office consonant with the desires of the pious deceased. In this respect also the favor of God was manifested to his servant, in that he not only bequeathed the succession of the empire to his own beloved sons, but that the earthly tabernacle of his thrice blessed soul, according to his own earnest wish, was permitted to share the monument of the apostles; was associated with the honor of their name, and with that of the people of God; was honored by the performance of the sacred ordinances and mystic service; and enjoyed a participation in the prayers of the saints. Thus, too, he continued to possess imperial power even after death, controlling, as though with renovated life, a universal dominion, and retaining in his own name, as Victor, Maximus, Augustus, the sovereignty of the Roman world[ Life of Constantine,4,71]
St.CYRIL OF JERUSALEM(313-386):
“Then we commemorate also those who have fallen asleep before us, first Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, that at their prayers and intercessions God would receive our petition. Then on behalf also of the Holy Fathers and Bishops who have fallen asleep before us, and in a word of all who in past years have fallen asleep among us, believing that it will be a very great benefit to the souls, for whom the supplication is put up, while that holy and most awful sacrifice is set forth. And I wish to persuade you by an illustration. For I know that many say, what is a soul profited, which departs from this world either with sins, or without sins, if it be commemorated in the prayer? For if a king were to banish certain who had given him of-fence, and then those who belong to them should weave a crown and offer it to him on behalf of those under punishment, would he not grant a remission of their penalties? In the same way we, when we offer to Him our supplications for those who have fallen asleep, though they be sinners, weave no crown, but offer up Christ sacrificed for our sins, propitiating our merciful God for them as well as for ourselves”[Catechetical Lectures,23:9,10]
St.EPHRAEM (d.374):
“Lay me not with sweet spices: for this honour avails me not; Nor yet incense and perfumes: for the honour benefits me not. Burn sweet spices in the Holy Place: and me, even me, conduct to the grave with prayer. Give ye incense to God: and over me send up hymns. Instead of perfumes of spices: in prayer make remembrance of me.”[His Testament]
St.EPIPHANIUS OF SALAMIS(310/320-403):
“Useful too is the prayer fashioned on their behalf…it is useful,because in this world we often stumble either voluntarily or involuntarily.”[Panarion,75:8]
St.AMBROSE OF MILAN (340-397):
“Give,Oh Lord,rest to Thy servant Theodosius,that rest Thou hast prepared for Thy saints….I love him,therefore will I follow him to the land of the living;I will not leave him till by my prayers and lamentations he shall be admitted unto the holy mount of the Lord,to which his deserts call him.”[De obitu Theodosii]
St.JEROME (347-420):
“Other husbands scatter on the graves of their wives violets, roses, lilies, and purple flowers; and assuage the grief of their hearts by fulfilling this tender duty. Our dear Pammachius also waters the holy ashes and the revered bones of Paulina, but it is with the balm of almsgiving.”[To Pammachius,Epistle 66:5]
St.JOHN CHRYSOSTOM (347-407):
“Weep for the unbelievers; weep for those who differ in nowise from them, those who depart hence without the illumination, without the seal! they indeed deserve our wailing, they deserve our groans; they are outside the Palace, with the culprits, with the condemned: for, “Verily I say unto you, Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven.” Mourn for those who have died in wealth, and did not from their wealth think of any solace for their soul, who had power to wash away their sins and would not. Let us all weep for these in private and in public, but with propriety, with gravity, not so as to make exhibitions of ourselves; let us weep for these, not one day, or two, but all our life. Such tears spring not from senseless passion, but from true affection. The other sort are of senseless passion. For this cause they are quickly quenched, whereas if they spring from the fear of God, they always abide with us. Let us weep for these; let us assist them according to our power; let us think of some assistance for them, small though it be, yet still let us assist them. How and in what way? By praying and entreating others to make prayers for them, by continually giving to the poor on their behalf.”[Homilies on Phillipians,3]
St.AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO (354-430):
“But since she has this certainty regarding no man, she prays for all her enemies who yet live in this world; and yet she is not heard in behalf of all. But she is heard in the case of those only who, though they oppose the Church, are yet predestinated to become her sons through her intercession. But if any retain an impenitent heart until death, and are not converted from enemies into sons, does the Church continue to pray for them, for the spirits, i.e., of such persons deceased? And why does she cease to pray for them, unless because the man who was not translated into Christ’s kingdom while he was in the body, is now judged to be of Satan’s following? It is then, I say, the same reason which prevents the Church at any time from praying for the wicked angels, which prevents her from praying hereafter for those men who are to be punished in eternal fire; and this also is the reason why, though she prays even for the wicked so long as they live, she yet does not even in this world pray for the unbelieving and godless who are dead. For some of the dead, indeed, the prayer of the Church or of pious individuals is heard; but it is for those who, having been regenerated in Christ, did not spend their life so wickedly that they can be judged unworthy of such compassion, nor so well that they can be considered to have no need of it. As also, after the resurrection, there will be some of the dead to whom, after they have endured the pains proper to the spirits of the dead, mercy shall be accorded, and acquittal from the punishment of the eternal fire. For were there not some whose sins, though not remitted in this life, shall be remitted in that which is to come, it could not be truly said, “They shall not be forgiven, neither in this world, neither in that which is to come.’ But when the Judge of quick and dead has said, ‘Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,’ and to those on the other side, ‘Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire, which is prepared for the devil and his angels,’ and ‘These shall go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life,’ it were excessively presumptuous to say that the punishment of any of those whom God has said shall go away into eternal punishment shall not be eternal, and so bring either despair or doubt upon the corresponding promise of life eternal.”[City of God,21:24]
Also check out the following ancient christain grave inscriptions dating from the second to the fifth century:
“Abercius by name, I am a disciple of the chaste shepherd…He taught me .. faithful writings…These words,I, Abercius, standing by, ordered to be inscribed.In truth, I was in the course of my seventy-second year. Let him who understands and believes this pray for Abercius.”
“To dear Cyriacus, sweetest son. Mayest thou live in the Holy Spirit”
“Regina, mayest thou live in the Lord Jesus”
“Amerimnus to his dearest, well-deserving wife, Rufina. May God refresh thy spirit”
“Sweet Faustina, mayest thou live in God”
“Bolosa, may God refresh thee, who lived 31 years; died on the 19th of September. In Christ”.

TimPowers August 7, 2008 at 10:34 am

Paul says in a lot of places that we should all pray for one another, and he also says that all believers are part of the body of Christ, working together. He didn’t say, “Except for the souls who are with God.” The only sense in which praying for the dead is “unbiblical” is that Paul didn’t add, “and when I say all believers, I MEAN all believers.”
And the only reason I’ve heard for not praying for dead friendsd is that their judgment is already done, and prayers after that are superfluous. This depends on the peculiar assumption that God didn’t know two years ago what my prayer would be today. (“What? But I already settled that! A week ago there might have been something I could do about it!”)
Incidentally, Protestants often claim that Paul said, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord,” but of course Paul did not say that. What he said (2 Corinthians 5:6-8) was, “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”
While I’m in San Bernardino, I’m absent from San Francisco, and I’d rather be absent from San Bernardino and present in San Francsico. That doesn’t mean San Fran is just the other side of the Cajon Pass; there’s some places in between.

Leo August 7, 2008 at 10:49 am

Good quotes Chaka et al.
Although not directly relevant, I find it helpful to consider the obverse case of those who have died praying for those remaining.
The parable of Lazarus and Dives
Luke 16:19-31
Now although this is a parable and should not be stretched too far, we can reasonably expect Jesus not to make assumptions which He would consider heretical or which would be unintelligible to His hearers.
In particular Jesus takes it for granted that:
- Lazarus and Dives are conscious ‘now’ (not after a general resurrection at the end of time) – Dives’ brothers are still alive.
- Dives prays to (ie asks) God for his brothers. The dead can pray for us – even from hell!.
Regarding being alive ‘now’ rather than being raised at the end of time
in Luke 23:43 to the penitent thief
Jesus answered him, I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise
I think it highly likely that Jesus would have prayed the Orthodox/Pharisee Jewish prayers for the dead for his friends and relatives including St Joseph. Jesus praying for the dead is not mentioned in the Gospels probably because it would have been taken as read by the first Jewish Christians.
At a human level. A conservative Evangelical mother would pray for her children while on earth – because she loves them. After she dies would her love for her children cease, diminish or become perfected? Would she continue to pray to God for her children?
In this life, conservative Evangelicals ask each other to pray for themselves and pray for each other. If the Church continues in heaven, what is more natural than if those in the Triumphant Church pray for those in the Earthly Church and even for those in transition.

John Warren August 7, 2008 at 11:15 am

I’m the “Blank Space” who posted the 5th (and unfortunately also the 6th) comment. I apologize for it being anonymous–this was an oversight. I also apologize for posting twice–this was an accident and I didn’t mean to be rude.
Simply because Judas Maccabee prayed for the dead doesn’t make it right. Even if 2 Maccabees *is* part of Scripture (I haven’t made up my mind on the Apocrypha). He and His brothers also combined the priestly and kingly roles in one office (just like Gideon had done over 100 years previously). This was wrong. The author of 2 Maccabees seems over-anxious to justify Judas’s behavior. Not all OT practice is OT doctrine. The practice was not adopted by Jews for centuries.
If it was meant to be doctrine, Paul or Peter or John or Jesus would have helped us out by expounding on it. But no such teaching is laid out for us on the pages.
The Timothy passage doesn’t state that Onesiphorus was dead. He may have been elsewhere. Chrysostom and Fabricius state that he was alive at the time. In the same letter, Paul grieves that “all Asia has forsaken me”. Onesiphorus may have been one of those who deserted him, therefore the lack of Paul’s blessing of him, but Paul still prayed that God would have mercy on him.

JohnD August 7, 2008 at 11:30 am

//In the same letter, Paul grieves that “all Asia has forsaken me”. Onesiphorus may have been one of those who deserted him, therefore the lack of Paul’s blessing of him, but Paul still prayed that God would have mercy on him.//
Rather, it seems that he singles out Onesiphorus for being different. From the passage in question:
“…he often gave me new heart and was not ashamed of my chains. But when he came to Rome, he promptly searched for me and found me.”

EricJN August 7, 2008 at 12:27 pm

Saint Josemaria Escriva also tried to resolve the dilemma of the rich and poor guys in purgatory. He suggested that every time any Mass is offered anywhere no matter who it is for, rich or poor, God somehow applies its value to everyone in purgatory; so that everyone can take one big step forward toward the finish line. That consoles me as I know we’re all pretty much interconnected, so a good deed done for one guy will affect everyone else. After all, I’m likely to be forgotten not long after I die. But this way God’s mercy will be nicely applied in justice. This is not revealed of course, just a way to resolve a problem. It certainly helps me.

Chaka August 7, 2008 at 12:27 pm

There is a Jewish text which has been overlooked for years that support the notion that the belief in the reality of purgatory was held by the ancient Jews. The text in question is from the Biblical Antiquities of Pseudo-Philo, which dates from the first century AD, and it teaches that one can undergo temporal punishment even after death in the other world. The text reads:
“And after these things Gedeon came and gathered the people of Israel together and said unto them: Behold, the Lord sent me to fight your battle, and I went according as he commanded me. And now I ask one petition of you: turn not away your face; and let every man of you give me the golden armlets which ye have on your hands. And Gedeon spread out a coat, and every man cast upon it their armlets, and they were all weighed, and the weight of them was found to be 12 talents (or 12,000 shekels). And Gedeon took them, and of them he made idols and worshipped them. 4. And God said: One way is verily appointed, 1 that I should not rebuke Gedeon in his lifetime, even because when he destroyed the sanctuary of Baal, then all men said: Let Baal avenge himself. Now, therefore, if I chastise him for that he hath done evil against me, ye will say: It was not God that chastised him, but Baal, because he sinned aforetime against him. Therefore now shall Gedeon die in a good old age, that they may not have whereof to speak. But after that Gedeon is dead I will punish him once, because he hath transgressed against me. And Gedeon died in a good old age and was buried in his own city” [The Biblical Antiquities of Pseudo-Philo 36,3].
There is another Jewish text which dates from the first or second century AD which shows that the belief in the reality of purgatory was held by the ancient Jews. The text in question is from the Testament of Abraham, and like the text from Pseudo-Philo, it dates from the first century AD (or probably from the second century AD).The text reads:
“The two angels on the right hand and on the left, these are they that write down the sins and the righteousness, the one on the right hand writes down the righteousness, and the one on the left the sins. The angel like the sun, holding the balance in his hand, is the archangel, Dokiel the just weigher, and he weighs the righteousnesses and sins with the righteousness of God. The fiery and pitiless angel, holding the fire in his hand, is the archangel Puruel, who has power over fire, and tries the works of men through fire, and if the fire consume the work of any man, the angel of judgment immediately seizes him, and carries him away to the place of sinners, a most bitter place of punishment. But if the fire approves the work of anyone, and does not seize upon it, that man is justified, and the angel of righteousness takes him and carries him up to be saved in the lot of the just. And thus, most righteous Abraham, all things in all men are tried by fire and the balance. And Abraham said to the chief-captain, My Lord the chief-captain, the soul which the angel held in his hand, why was it adjudged to be set in the midst? The chief-captain said, Listen, righteous Abraham. Because the judge found its sins. and its righteousnesses equal, he neither committed it to judgment nor to be saved, until the judge of all shall come. Abraham said to the chief-captain, And what yet is wanting for the soul to be saved? The chief-captain said, If it obtains one righteousness above its sins, it enters into salvation. Abraham said to the chief-captain, Come hither, chief-captain Michael, let us make prayer for this soul, and see whether God will hear us. The chief-captain said, Amen, be it so; and they made prayer and entreaty for the soul, and God heard them, and when they rose up from their prayer they did not see the soul standing there. And Abraham said to the angel, Where is the soul that thou didst hold in the midst? And the angel answered, It has been saved by thy righteous prayer, and behold an angel of light has taken it and carried it up into Paradise. Abraham said, I glorify the name of God, the Most High, and his immeasurable mercy” [The Testament of Abraham,14]
Whoa! How clearer can the above text be? So, we have not only the Scriptural text from Second Maccabbees[Second century BC] but also two non-scriptural Jewish work to show that the Jews before ,during ,and after the time of Christ the Jewish people believed in the reality of Purgatory (there are also evidence in the Midrash and Rabbinical literature).Purgatory is just one of those beliefs (others are the immortality of the soul,resurrection of the dead,reality of hell e.t.c) which the early Church carried over from Judaism.
@John Warren,
It seems you were over-anxious to justify your interpretation of 2 Tim.1:16-18 that you forgot to take note of the fact that St.Paul mentioned that Onesiphorus was loyal to him.So,he was not part of the Asiatic Christains who formerly were in Rome and had deserted Paul in his present need. Try another argument, 2 Tim.1;16-18 indicates that Onesiphorus was dead.

John Warren August 7, 2008 at 1:15 pm

I took note of it, all right. He *had been* loyal to Paul in the past. Which is why Paul is so eager to petition for God to have mercy on him, even though at present he has deserted Paul. Paul still can’t forget all the good Onesiphorus did for him. It seems to be a bittersweet situation.
But you wanted another argument. Okay. According to http://www.catholic.org, Onesiphorus was martyred during Domitian’s reign (AD 81-96). I.e., still alive when Paul wrote to Timothy.
I stand somewhat corrected in my bold assertion that it took Jews several centuries to adopt the practice of praying for the dead. I say “somewhat” because even around 70 AD, Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai, considered the founder of Talmudic Judaism, believed that death is final (i.e., no purgatory, and there’s nothing you can do to alter one’s path after he dies). A little later, Rabbi Akiba (around 130 AD) and Rabbi Jacob both believed that death is the time when you “put your pencils down”. So apparently there was heavy controversy over this in Judaism.

JohnD August 7, 2008 at 1:25 pm

John Warren,
You might be interested in 2 Tim 4, where Paul again seemd to acknowledge that Onesiphorus is no longer among those on earth:
“Salute Prisca and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus”

David L. August 7, 2008 at 1:29 pm

The good news is that through our hope that is in Christ and His One Universal Catholic Church, we are never beyond the pale of Christ’s love and how it is transmitted by His Church! Thus ofcourse we can pray for the dead just as easily as the saints are making intercession for us!

JohnD August 7, 2008 at 1:55 pm

//But you wanted another argument. Okay. According to http://www.catholic.org, Onesiphorus was martyred during Domitian’s reign (AD 81-96). I.e., still alive when Paul wrote to Timothy.//
For the sake of argument, let’s assume this dating of martyrdom is accurate. Now, where is your evidence that 2 Tim was written before this time, not after or during?

Mary Kay August 7, 2008 at 2:28 pm

Masked Chicken, lol. I never thought of “kairos time” as being as an oxymoron, but of course, it is.
I doff my bonnet to your depth of understanding, which is out of my league.

Chaka August 7, 2008 at 2:47 pm

@John Warren,
My brother its like you dont get it.Neither did Judas Maccabeus nor did Second Maccabees introduce the practice of prayer for the dead.Rather,the Scriptural book shows that the practice was already established at the time of Judas Maccabeus so that it was even connected to the temple ritual.Prayer for the dead was not merely a private but a public affair in the second century BC.And that is the testimony of history.
Now,on your so-called rabbinic evidence you did not cite your source so that we can go check for ourselves to see what those texts are actually saying.From your little description of the content of those texts it is even possible that you dont understand what those texts are actually saying.Catholicism teaches that it is only down here a man can work out his own salvation.Once he departs from this life his final destiny have been fixed.He can no longer work out his own salvation.This I think was what some of those rabbis too were teaching.But this teaching is compatible with the doctrine of purgatory.It is precisely because the poor souls in purgatory cannot help themselves that is why we on earth,who are one body with them,aid them with our prayers.Furthermore,purgatory is not the final destiny for anyone[note:we speak of it as a temporary state].The final destiny for those who enter Purgatory is heaven,but they have go through the flames of purgatory so that they will achieve the holiness necessary to enter into heaven.Oh,and lest I forget,your interpretation of 2 Tim1:16-18 looks like a desperate move to escape the our interpretation of that passage.Its not only forced but cast a dearly beloved friend of Paul,who had worked faithfully in the Lord’s vineyard,in a bad light.Peace with love from Africa.

The Masked Chicken August 7, 2008 at 2:52 pm

Mary Kay,
You have a bonnet?
I would like to avoid getting into time issues, as fun as they are to speculate on (maybe if Jimmy posts on something sci-fy).
There is a nice story about Purgatory that I would like to tell (although I am sure that I will get some of the details wrong) because it is a cautionary tale for combox posters:
It seems there once was a very wise and revered Dominican Master who was very sick. Before he died, he promised a friar friend that if he prayed for him, he would visit him as soon as he got out of Purgatory. At the same time, a novice in the same convent died and made the same promise to the friar.
About a day later, the novice visited the friar. The novice was dressed in a simple long bright white robe. He said, “Thanks, for your prayers. I’m off to heaven.”
The friar waited and waited, but the Master never showed up.
About five years later, one night, the Master visited the friar. He was dressed in a regal robe adorned with jewels. “Thanks, for your prayers. I’m off to heaven.”
The friar was curious and so started talking to the Master before he left.
“Master, you have done so much for the Order. You have written many theological treatises. You lived a holy life. Why did it take so long for you to go to heaven.”
The Master smiled.
“Because, while I was on earth, I had the habit of making idle talk with people in the village.”
Just something to think about.
The Chicken
P. S.
Apologies to any Dominicans in the crowd. Feel free to clean up the story.

The Masked Chicken August 7, 2008 at 3:00 pm

The comment I made to CT in my post above:
Although I suspect that you will have difficulties with my short analysis, above,
It should be understood to mean not that you will not understand what I wrote, but that you might not agree with it.
The Chicken

Chaka August 7, 2008 at 4:01 pm

@John Warren,
My brother I have a little advise for you.Try to look at things from another angle and begin to ask your self the following questions:Why is there no evidence that Christ or the Apostles rejected the practice of prayer for the dead which was familiar to the Jewish people during thier time?Why didn’t any early Church author point out that Second Maccabees was not inspired because it teaches that prayer is profitable for the dead?Why is there no record of the early Christains protesting that prayer for the dead is an innovation?Why is there no testimonies of the early Church authors condeming prayer for the dead as a Judaic practice?Why didn’t any early Church author teach that prayer is not profitable for the dead?
Pls I will like to see how you answer this questions

Rosemarie August 7, 2008 at 6:24 pm

+J.M.J+
>>>But you wanted another argument. Okay. According to http://www.catholic.org, Onesiphorus was martyred during Domitian’s reign (AD 81-96). I.e., still alive when Paul wrote to Timothy.
It’s possible catholic.org (or whatever source on saints it is referencing) is conflating two different early Christians with the same name. Sometimes, information about early saints is a little sketchy. Were St. James the Less and St. James bishop of Jerusalem the same person? Some say yes, others no. Also, one tradition identifies Mary the sister of Martha and Lazarus with St. Mary Magdalen, while another says they are two different people.
In Jesu et Maria,

Mary Kay August 7, 2008 at 6:33 pm

Masked Chicken,
You have a bonnet?
Well, okay, a bit of literary license. It sounded more feminine that “doff my cap.” :^)

Paul Hoffer August 7, 2008 at 9:57 pm

Just so folks are aware, there are a number of intertestamental works where the living do pray for the dead, the Book of Enoch (referenced in the Epistle of Jude) and the Apocalypse of Abraham both come to mind off the top of my head. The Pharisees used Wisdom 3:1-7 and Zechariah 13:9-13 as well as several passages out of Daniel to show that purgatory existed before Christ was born. Since St. Paul was a Pharisee, educated as a Pharisee, it would make sense that he would pray for the souls of the departed like Onesiphorus.

John Warren August 7, 2008 at 10:11 pm

Pretty much any scholar believes that Paul died around AD 67. No one thinks he made it to 14 years later (i.e., AD 81).

EileenR August 7, 2008 at 10:27 pm

I stated the question to be asked was “Does this make sense from a traditional Christian point of view?”
and CT replied:
>Reason and logic is something universal. If something is logically inconsistent or incoherent then it is so on any view. >A Christian point of view cannot render a tautology false or the negatino of a tautology true nor can it with >faithfulness to reason make it immune from logical analysis
I really think you’re skimming. I have no quarrel with that statement, but it wasn’t actually what I was talking about. I was pointing out that not all discussions proceed from the same common grounds.
For example, if I’m talking with my friend Bob who believes with me that Wayne Gretzky is the greatest hockey player ever to live, we’ll sometimes take as granted in conversation the premise that Wayne Gretsky is the greatest hockey player ever to live. Our conversation might then go on to argue about what exactly makes him the greatest hockey player to ever live. But supposing another friend Pat heard us arguing and said “Your arguments have no merit! You have not proved Wayne Gretsky to be the greatest hockey player! Look at all the holes in your arguments!”
Well, Pat would be completely off-topic. It might be a very rational and interesting off-topic, but the fact is that it’s perfectly acceptable for parties to pursue a line of discussion from a shared premise, even if bystanders don’t share the premise themselves.
In this case, Jimmy is arguing from a premise that Catholics and Protestants share. He doesn’t *have* to make the argument for the premise here, because the argument is for people who already share the premise. The same people may debate the premise elsewhere, as in the post a few days back which was devoted to atheist vs. believing matters. To come in and demand that this thread be devoted to arguing the premise is thread hi-jacking, and rather unfair to anyone who was interested in the argument at hand itself.

voiceofreason August 8, 2008 at 8:21 am

I ask protestants if they believe God is restrained by time? They always answer properly that God is not restrained by time because he is omnipotent. I then say, then is it possible that my prayer today for someone who is dead, could not have benefited that person back when they were alive?
This usually leaves them speechless, and many I have regular interactions with have begun to pray for the deceased with the possibility of the prayer being retroactive.

labrialumn August 8, 2008 at 10:44 am

Is your purpose to bring evangelical into the RC church, or just to dis them?
Your strategy here would require proving universal ordinary primacy for the metropolitan of Rome from the first century onwards -and- that Rome has ongoing inerrant verbal propositional revelation from God. That dog don’t hunt.
It doesn’t help that you issue blatant falsehoods such as claiming that Maccabees “were removed” from the Bible “just for such reasons”
If you really think you are right, you should be able to stick to truth in order to prove your assertions.
I’m genuinely disappointed.

John Warren August 8, 2008 at 11:18 am

One other quick comment about Onesiphorus, (to rehabilitate his reputation from another possibility I put out there about him). Perhaps the reason Paul blessed Onesiphorus’s family (2 Tim 1:16), but left Onesiphorus out, was that Onesiphorus was with Paul in Rome at the time. Indeed vv. 16-17 suggest this.

Constantine August 8, 2008 at 12:24 pm

Chaka,
You wrote: “Why is there no evidence that Christ or the Apostles rejected the practice of prayer for the dead which was familiar to the Jewish people during (sic)thier time?”
This seems a lot like the argument that the gays use. After all, Christ never rejected the practice of homosexuality so it must be ok, right? For that matter, I don’t recall the Apostles rejecting wife beating, either.
But, of course, Jesus did reject homosexuality, wife beating and, yes, prayers for the dead. Specifically with regards to PFD, we see Jesus’ affirmation of His mission to fulfill the law (Matthew 5:17) and that law contains a strict prohibition against PFD (Deut. 18:11). As evidence of Jesus’ support for Deuteronomy we might note that He uses it more than any OT book during His earthly ministry.
Peace.

bill912 August 8, 2008 at 12:35 pm

“There shall not be found among you any one who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, any one who practices divination, a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a medium, or a wizard, or a necromancer.” Deut 18:10-11.
And that says “don’t pray for the dead” where? (Maybe it didn’t occur to him that some of us might actually look up the verse he cited).

Constantine August 8, 2008 at 3:25 pm

Hi Bill,
I’m glad you found the text.
The answer to your question lies in the understanding of “necromancy”. Various interpretations can be found in different Bibles, but they all go something like this: “(one) who consults the dead” (NIV), “one seeking unto the dead.” (Young’s Literal Translation), “one who inquires of the dead” (English Standard Version) and one who “tries to talk with the spirits of dead people.” (New Century Version). So do you see the common theme? Necromancy, at least in its broad sense, means trying to talk to the dead. And prayer is a form of talking, right Bill? And even if you want to quibble about the definition, since it is clear that “Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD,” (Deut. 18:12), why take the chance?
So it seems to follow that praying to the dead, is necromancy.
(Apparently some of Bill’s friends like parenthetical comments. So I thank you all for reading this, too!)

Marion (Mael Muire) August 8, 2008 at 4:02 pm

Dear Constantine,
Catholics believe that the saints, although it is true they once lived on Earth and have suffered earthly death, are not now simply “dead people”. Their souls have been resurrected, and the saints in Heaven are now alive – vibrantly alive, more so than you or I can imagine, and they are enjoying eternal life with God. The seed has fallen to the earth; it has been buried; it has germinated, and behold! abundant new life has sprung forth. In no sense, then, can the saints be spoken of as “dead persons”, even though, technically speaking, that description fits them.
Like a 50 foot oak tree could be described as a sprouted acorn.
~~~

Marion (Mael Muire) August 8, 2008 at 4:02 pm

bill912 August 8, 2008 at 5:28 pm

Constantine, my parenthetical comment was out of line. I apologize for it. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

Constantine August 8, 2008 at 7:20 pm

Hi Bill,
No need for the mea culpa. I’m grateful to interact with you. Peace to you and yours.
Hi Marion,
If someone is “technically speaking” dead, then they are dead in a very real sense. Besides, that’s what “dead” means. It is the death of our physical bodies. Otherwise “dead” is just meaningless. How would you, for example, describe Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn? He’s dead, right?
The point I was sharing with Bill (and trying to make earlier) is that this is obviously what the writer of Deuteronomy meant – don’t try to contact the dead. My further point is that Jesus used Deuteronomy more than any other OT book, so He supported it. Therefore, it seems to me, we would be well advised to follow His lead. Peace to you, Marion.

Mary August 8, 2008 at 7:46 pm

So it seems to follow that praying to the dead, is necromancy.
Where did this come from?
Are we not talking about praying for the dead?
Would anyone say that I was “consulting with” people I don’t know when I pray for people who have no one to pray for them individually?

Mary August 8, 2008 at 7:50 pm

You wrote: “Why is there no evidence that Christ or the Apostles rejected the practice of prayer for the dead which was familiar to the Jewish people during (sic)thier time?”
This seems a lot like the argument that the gays use. After all, Christ never rejected the practice of homosexuality so it must be ok, right?

Nope, different argument.
For the arguments to be parallel, Jesus and his apostles would have to be surrounded by the open practice of homosexuality and not condemn it. And furthermore, you would need to produce verses from the epistles that specifically condemn praying for the dead and for us to reject them on the grounds that Jesus didn’t speak them.
Because homosexuality was condemned by Jewish teaching and indeed in the epistles, we can therefore conclude it was condemned by Jesus. It is not eating with unwashed hands, a teaching Jesus specifically rejected.

Mary August 8, 2008 at 7:54 pm

It doesn’t help that you issue blatant falsehoods such as claiming that Maccabees “were removed” from the Bible “just for such reasons”
If that’s the falsehood, what is the truth? Given that the Deterocanonical books were rejected by the Protestants — after centuries of acceptance by all Christians, including the Orthodox — how can anyone say that it is falsehood to say they “were removed”?
And every statement I have read justifying it revolves about their rejection of teaching they contained.

Mary Kay August 8, 2008 at 8:01 pm

Constantine, a clarification on prepositions. The topic is praying for the dead, whereas you said praying to the dead. Your comment agrees with Catholic teaching because we don’t pray to, or consult, dead bodies. (ewww) But we do pray in an intercessory way for someone who died.
What Marion is talking about is when someone has died, Catholics believe they are still “alive in the Lord” and again in an intercessory way, ask to them intercede. Not the dead bodies, but the person spiritually alive.
It’s late, but I hope that makes sense.

Mary August 8, 2008 at 8:03 pm

The point I was sharing with Bill (and trying to make earlier) is that this is obviously what the writer of Deuteronomy meant – don’t try to contact the dead.
Considering the terms used, the commandment seems more on the order of try to “talk with, converse with, etc.” the dead. And not even praying to the dead is necessarily forbidden. (To follow the topic drift. It is of course, utterly irrelevant to the question of praying for the dead.)
This would have the advantage of making sense of Revelation, where we are told, “When he took it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each of the elders held a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the holy ones.” and “Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a gold censer. He was given a great quantity of incense to offer, along with the prayers of all the holy ones, on the gold altar that was before the throne. The smoke of the incense along with the prayers of the holy ones went up before God from the hand of the angel.” Which shows that the blessed in Heaven can know of, and support with prayers of their own, the prayers of the holy ones on earth.

Mary August 8, 2008 at 8:14 pm

Is your purpose to bring evangelical into the RC church, or just to dis them?
In this post?
I believe our purpose is to explicate to our fellow Catholics our own beliefs.

Constantine August 8, 2008 at 10:44 pm

Mary,
Arguments don’t have to parallel but they do have to be logical. The argument that I responded to looks like this:
1. The Jews prayed to/for the dead.
2. Jesus never explicitly forbade praying to/for the dead,
3. therefore Jesus approves praying to/for the dead.
The conclusion does not follow these premises so it is not valid. All that means is that the fact that the Jews prayed to the dead and the Jesus never explicitly forbade it cannot mean He approved the practice. That’s what I was trying to say.

Constantine August 8, 2008 at 10:46 pm

Hi Mary Kay,
Thanks for the clarification.
I would be interested to know what “dead” means to you.
Thanks very much.

Skygor August 9, 2008 at 5:20 am

@Liturgy Question
Here is the General Instruction of the Liturdy of the Hours at EWTN and the specific citation. Nothing is really said about the Office of the Dead (or other ones for the matter):
186. In the intercessions at evening prayer the last intention is always for the dead.
245. For a public cause or out of devotion, except on solemnities, the Sundays of the seasons of Advent, Lent, and Easter, Ash Wednesday, Holy Week, the octave of Easter, and 2 November, a votive office may be celebrated, in whole or in part: for example, on the occasion of a pilgrimage, a local feast, or the external solemnity of a saint.

Mary Kay August 9, 2008 at 7:04 am

Constantine, the short answer is to keep in mind that body and soul are distinct. When the body dies, the soul still lives. Perhaps when we speak of praying for the dead or asking intercession, it’s more accurate to say pray for the souls. Indeed that is the language of the Church, such as in All Soul’s Day.

Melody August 9, 2008 at 8:51 am

Not sure if anyone has cited this verse: “Each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Cor. 3:13-15).
This would seem to support the belief in Purgatory, and by extension, prayer for the dead.

Mary August 9, 2008 at 11:48 am

Arguments don’t have to parallel but they do have to be logical.
Nonsense!
You explicitly drew the parallel.
You in fact argued that it was illogical because it was parallel.
The argument that I responded to looks like this:
1. The Jews prayed to/for the dead.
2. Jesus never explicitly forbade praying to/for the dead,
3. therefore Jesus approves praying to/for the dead.
The conclusion does not follow these premises so it is not valid. All that means is that the fact that the Jews prayed to the dead and the Jesus never explicitly forbade it cannot mean He approved the practice. That’s what I was trying to say.

You didn’t say it very well.
Because you compare it to what homosexuals said. And they can’t argue step 1. Therefore it is not parallel.
And you explicitly argued that it was invalid because of the (non-existent) parallel.
Given that this is your second bait-and-switch — the first being your brazen attempt to answer a question about praying for the dead to one about praying to the dead, it would be better for you to apologize for both stunts before going on.
And then you can either argue the parallel or admit you should never have used it, and provide a scriptural reference you were asked for, namely one against praying for the dead.

CT August 9, 2008 at 12:38 pm

@Eileen,
I am sure JA himself can tell me if I “jacked” him.
I don’t recall all I wrote but much of what I wrote did not deny any premise he put forth. I suspect, with respect, that you simply did not understand much of what I wrote. Some of what I wrote was actually a criticism of peculiarly Catholic views (views that an Evangelical wouldn’t hold for instance) — something you seemed to have not been aware of, for example.
Thank you TMC for your contribution. I may make a response to it later if, no pun intended, time allows.

Brian August 9, 2008 at 2:55 pm

There are 33000 + so-called Christian fellowship fundamentalists Evangelical groups. They spend most of their time knocking Catholics more out of guilt than any hard facts they claim to have. They engage us with questions about purgatory because they can’t think of anything better. Ask them if they have the truth then why are the split from top to bottom into 33000+ bits. They don’t care what we think of purgatory. If an Evangelical ask me that question I would right away suspect what they were up to and tell them to go and get themselves sorted out before they come knocking my faith. Again I point out…..They don’t care what your answer is, they just want to knock us.

CT August 9, 2008 at 3:30 pm

“There are 33000 + so-called Christian fellowship fundamentalists Evangelical groups.”
That figure is not truthful. It counts certain baptist congregations as a separate denomination. I am sure Catholics can do better and also do better in removing this falsehood from your debates with evangelical Christians.
I am not suggesting you are being deceptive; that figure or others like it are so commonly thrown out that I guess like with other myths people just assume it to be true and don’t especially bother to research its truth if its truth would serve their purposes and its falsity not so much.

The Masked Chicken August 9, 2008 at 6:41 pm

Well, CT,
I have not done much research myself. Of course, it depends on how one defines a denomination, but there is nothing sacrosanct in the classical protestant group classifications. Are methodists supposed to be considered nothing more than angry Anglicans? When does a split constitute the establishment of a separate group?
Since Protestants hold to the principal of private interpretation, the maximum number could, in theory, go as high as one denomination per person (each person has his own interpretation of what Scripture says is the truth). Given that there are an estimate 1.1 billion Protestants, there could be as many as 1.1 billion Protestant denominations. 33,000 is only .003% of the total possible, which is not that many. Put another way, 99.997% of Protestants are organized.
These numbers, then, do not seem too high. I cannot, however, vouch for them. They are, most often, taken from The World Christian Encyclopedia. Here is a page which attempts to explain how the number was arrived at (there is a second page, linked at the bottom).
In any event, any number higher than 10 Protestant churches holding different views on Purgatory is sufficient to motivate Brian’s argument.
The Chicken

labrialumn August 9, 2008 at 9:29 pm

Mary, perhaps you don’t consider St. Jerome and the Assyrian Church to be Christians, but I think that Rome might disagree with you. The history of the matter is rather more complex than what you’ve “heard”, and it sounds like you’ve only heard polemics from your side.
Brian, I doubt that the Pope would dare to make such blanket statements about the intentions of every individual of large groups of people. You might want to tone that down due to the sin of bearing false witness. Do you really believe that you know that accusation for a fact, or were you just writing hurriedly – which all of us do from time to time?
The statement “Protestants hold to the principle of private interpretation” is a false statement. How many orders and chapters and apostolates are there in the 22 Catholic Churches? Not to mention bishoprics. You should compare apples to apples.
Protestants bring up purgatory because that is where, in Catholic folk tradition at least, the Gospel is rejected and the notion of earning the forgiveness of sins comes in to play – a false gospel.

CT August 9, 2008 at 10:08 pm

@TMC
IIRC those stats are based on dividing based on church governance. Thus since certain baptist — perhaps it was a different flavor of christianity — congregations governed only at the congregational level, each congregation was counted separately as a denomination.
I doubt that they are most often taken from that encyclopedia directly. As you know, most often it’s just others have heard that others have heard.

Tim J. August 10, 2008 at 9:46 am

“The point I was sharing with Bill (and trying to make earlier) is that this is obviously what the writer of Deuteronomy meant – don’t try to contact the dead.”
No, that is not what the writer of Deuteronomy states; “Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.”.
“Consults”, not “contacts”.
This is clearly a ban against seances and that sort of thing… trying to converse with the dead to gain hidden knowledge, which is obviously nothing like offering prayers for the dead or asking the saints to pray to God for us and with us.
And then you have this verse in Revelation;
“And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” – Rev. 5:8
This demonstrates that we have intermediaries in heaven who carry our prayers and offer them before the Throne. The “elders” would presumably not be angels. If the saints are alive in heaven, we may ask them to pray for us, just as I would ask you to pray for me, even though I am perfectly able to pray myself.
What I may not do (and remain in God’s will) is try to consult the dead, to make them present by means of incantations or spells and put questions to them. That is magic or witchcraft and is forbidden. One could never speak to a saint in this way, anyway, as they would never show up (though an impostor might).

Mary August 10, 2008 at 10:27 am

Mary, perhaps you don’t consider St. Jerome and the Assyrian Church to be Christians, but I think that Rome might disagree with you.
So what? We consider the Protestants to be Christians despite their expurgated Bible.
St. Jerome doesn’t count, BTW. He wrote before the canon had been defined. Good Christians can hold views that are later repudiated, because the implications have not been thrashed out in their time.
it sounds like you’ve only heard polemics from your side.
And after I explicitly asked for what you think is the truth.
If you are distressed by the one-sidedness, go ahead, provide the other side. If you can’t provide it, it is much wiser to keep your mouth shut; statements too vacuous to be refuted only create suspicion that you really don’t have arguments.

Mary August 10, 2008 at 10:32 am

The statement “Protestants hold to the principle of private interpretation” is a false statement.
One hardly knows what to think in face of such a statement. What does sola scriptura mean, then? And are all the Protestants who proudly claim it lying? And were all those who lead the Protestants into their schism lying?
The principle of private interpretation is the very root of the schism.
How many orders and chapters and apostolates are there in the 22 Catholic Churches? Not to mention bishoprics. You should compare apples to apples.
This is an apple to oranges statement right there. All the Catholic Churches are subject to the Pope and accept his authority.

Brian August 10, 2008 at 11:28 am

Personally speaking, I think you are all nuts. You are all so legalistic. No wonder we get ask questions about purgatory if this is the outcome. By the time we answer the question we will be in purgatory. Maybe they will too and then they will know for sure.

bill912 August 10, 2008 at 11:33 am

“Personally speaking, I think you are all nuts.”
I’m sure we’re all going to lose sleep over that.

Constantine August 10, 2008 at 9:31 pm

Bill912 is right! Go Bill!
Mary, my dear, I hope you are taking your blood pressure medicine. “Nonsense” is so judgmental!! :)
What I said is that homosexuals use the same form of argument. I believe what you then said was that, for the argument to be valid, there would have had to have been a widespread practice of homosexuality in Jesus’ day. To which I could say, Nonsense. The point is just because Jesus didn’t explicitly endorse PFD or homosexuality doesn’t mean He endorsed either one.
Regarding a Scriptural reference for Jesus condemning PFD specifically, it wasn’t needed. Just like Jesus didn’t need to condemn horse thievery. But if you would like, Hebrews 9:27 makes the practice wholly unnecessary. Unless PFD can undo the will of God.
Peace to you, Mary. I hope you are able to relax!!!

Constantine August 10, 2008 at 10:29 pm

Hi TimJ,
Actually the Hebrew word here does mean “to resort to, to seek”. So the idea may well include “conjuring up” but it also means contacting, or seeking, too. Therefore, just to be safe, probably shouldn’t resort to, or seek the dead.
Revelation 5:8 can’t mean that we have intermediaries. That would put Revelation in conflict with itself and with the Apostle Paul. Later in Revelation you see the angel tells John to worship God, directly! Twice. (Revelation 19:10 and 22:8,9). And the Apostle Paul said specifically, we have “…one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…” I Timothy 2:5. Since Paul got his teaching directly from Jesus (see Galatians 1:11) I think we can take it as authoritative.
Thanks for your thoughts. I wish you a great week.
Bill912, can we call it a night? Peace to you, too!

Mary Kay August 11, 2008 at 3:44 am

Constantine,
So a friend asks you to pray for him and you tell him, “Sorry, can’t do that, the only way is for you to take it directly to God.” Is that what you do?

Rosemarie August 11, 2008 at 3:44 am

+J.M.J+
>>>Perhaps the reason Paul blessed Onesiphorus’s family (2 Tim 1:16), but left Onesiphorus out, was that Onesiphorus was with Paul in Rome at the time.
Perhaps not. He’s talking about him facing God’s judgment, and asking God’s mercy. I don’t recall him using similar language when talking about his other present companions.
>>>Indeed vv. 16-17 suggest this.
No, they don’t. He is not spoken of as one who is with St. Paul. If he were, then St. Paul would have sent Onesiphorus’s greetings to St. Timothy. That’s what he typically did in his epistles:
“Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house. All the brothers here send you greetings.” (1 Corinthians 16:19-20)
“All the saints send their greetings.” (2 Corinthians 13:13)
“The brothers who are with me send greetings. All the saints send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.” (Philippians 4:21-22)
“My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas.” (Colossians 4:10)
“Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings… Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings… Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings.” (Colossians 4:11-12, 14)
“Eubulus greets you, and so do Pudens, Linus, Claudia and all the brothers.” (2 Timothy 4:21)
“Everyone with me sends you greetings.” (Titus 3:15)
“Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings.” (Philemon 1:23)

So why does St. Paul never say, “Onesiphorus sends you greetings”? Obviously, Onesiphorus wasn’t with him.
In Jesu et Maria,

Tim J. August 11, 2008 at 7:10 am

“Therefore, just to be safe, probably shouldn’t resort to, or seek the dead.”
You have to look at the word in the context of the whole verse, where it clearly refers to divination, witchcraft, etc… which prayer requests to the saints clearly is not. Asking for prayer is not “seeking the dead”.
Also “just to be safe” is what led to the petty legalism that Jesus taught against so often. The scribes and the Pharisees built a “hedge around the law” of a thousand unnecessary and burdensome regulations… “just to be safe”.
“That would put Revelation in conflict with itself and with the Apostle Paul.”
No. It only contradicts your understanding of those scriptures.
“Later in Revelation you see the angel tells John to worship God, directly!”
OF COURSE he did. We must worship no one but God. Which is why Catholics don’t worship the saints. The passage has nothing to do with asking someone to pray for you. Asking for prayer, or even giving due reverence (for instance to one’s elders) is not “worship”. There is no contradiction, here. And what do you make of the elders and angels bearing the prayers of the saints before the Throne of God? Do you figure they carry them in literal bowls?
“And the Apostle Paul said specifically, we have ‘…one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…’ ”
That’s true, but what does it mean? Paul also says “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone… This is good, and pleases God our Savior…”
We make intercession for one another *all the time*, and this diminishes Christ’s unique role as mediator not at all. Christ is the one mediator for our salvation, but we may have many mediators in bringing our prayers and petitions before the Throne. We are commanded to mediate for one another in this way. Again, this doesn’t interfere at all with Christ’s singular role as savior and Lord.
The only question is whether the saints in heaven are still *able* to pray for us, which they are.

Chaka August 11, 2008 at 11:45 am

@Constantine,
Chaka: “Why is there no evidence that Christ or the Apostles rejected the practice of prayer for the dead which was familiar to the Jewish people during (sic)thier time?”
Constantine: “This seems a lot like the argument that the gays use. After all, Christ never rejected the practice of homosexuality so it must be ok, right?”
Reply: There is no comparism between my argument and that which gays make because Sodomy was condemned by the Jews before, during and after the time of Christ. Whereas, the custom of praying for the dead was accepted by the Jews before, during, and after the time of Christ. For evidence that the custom of praying for the dead was accepted by the Jews before, during, and after the time of Christ, see my quotes in one of my earlier posts. For evidence that sodomy was condemned by the Jews before, during and after the time of Christ, see the following examples from the Old Testament, the New Testament, and ancient Jewish literature:
THE BOOK OF LEVITICUS (Seventh –fifth century BC)
“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.” [18:22]
“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death.”[20:13]
TESTAMENT OF THE TWELVE PATRIACHS (second century BC)
“But you, my children shall not be like that:… so that you do not become like Sodom, which departed from the order of nature.” [Testament of Naphtali 3. 5]
“From the words of Enoch the Righteous I will tell you that you will be sexually promiscuous like the promiscuity of the Sodomites and will perish.”[Testament of Benjamin 9. 1]
SIBYLLINE ORACLES [163 BC -100 AD]
“Do not practice homosexuality” [II. 73]. (From Ch. I. 347)
“They [Jews] do not engage in impious intercourse with male children.” [III. 597]
“Neither have they [the righteous] disgraceful desire for another’s spouse, or for hateful and repulsive abuse of a male.” [IV. 34]
THE APOSTLE ST.PAUL (d.67 AD)
The Epistle to the Romans:
“For this reason God handed them over to dishonorable passions, and their women exchanged their natural use for the unnatural. And similarly the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned with desire for one another, males working impropriety on males, and receiving in themselves the pay which was proper for their wandering.” (1:26-27)
The First Epistle to the Corinthians:
“Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor the effeminate, nor those who lie with males… will inherit the kingdom of God.” [6:9-10]
The First Epistle to Timothy:
“Knowing this, that the law is not there for the righteous man, but for lawless ones… sexually loose, those who lie with males…” [1:9-10]
THE APOSTLE OF ST.JUDE (died in the second half of the first century)
The Epistle of St.Jude:
“Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise acted immorally and indulged in unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.”[ 7 ]
SECOND ENOCH [First century AD].
“This place, Enoch, has been prepared for those who do not glorify God, who practice on earth the sin which is against nature, which is child corruption in the anus in the manner of Sodom….” [10. 4]
“And all the world will be reduced to confusion by iniquities and wickednesses and abominable fornications that is, friend with friend in the anus….” [34. 2]
TESTAMENT OF ISAAC (Second century AD)
“The angel said to me, ‘Look at the bottom to observe those whom you see at the lowest depth. They are the ones who have committed the sin of Sodom; truly, they were due a drastic punishment.” [5. 27]
TESTAMENT OF JACOB (Second-Third century AD)
“They were prepared to torment the sinners, who are these: adulterers, male and female; those lusting after males….For the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God, nor will the adulterers, nor the accursed, nor those who commit outrages and have sexual intercourse with males.…” [5. 8 - 7. 19-20]
Actually, it is the gay community that needs to be asked the following question: If you say Christ and the Apostles saw no sin in sodomy why is there no evidence that Christ or the Apostles rejected the Jewish laws of their day which condemned sodomy as a sin?

John Warren August 11, 2008 at 4:35 pm

@Rosemarie: I said “suggests”, not “indicates.” Okay, so even if Onesiphorus wasn’t with Paul at the time, he obviously was with him at one point while Paul was in Rome, and away from his family. Perhaps he stayed away from his family and continued on his journey away from home, evangelizing some other place. I belabor this to show that there are many explanations other than resorting to his death.
Which death, I repeat, happened after 81 AD, according to tradition.

Mary August 11, 2008 at 4:36 pm

Revelation 5:8 can’t mean that we have intermediaries.
What do you say it means, then?

tnourse August 12, 2008 at 7:06 am

“Later in Revelation you see the angel tells John to worship God, directly! Twice. (Revelation 19:10 and 22:8,9).”
Ha, this is so easy it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. For crying out loud, John fell down in worship of the Angel, he wasn’t praying to God through the Angel, he thought the Angel was Jesus…so when you say “the angel tells John to worship God, directly!” you are adding a dimension that was never there to suit your argument here. As if. Look in Hebrews 12:1 where life is likened to a great race and the audience, here described as a cloud of witnesses, who would they be??? Hmmm??? Our departed brothers and sisters who are now in Heaven are witnesses to our lives, can hear our prayers, “carry them” like incense to the Most High God, and hence “intercede” with the Lord for us. James 5:16 tells us “the prayer of a righteous man availeth much”. Who is more righteous than a man (or woman) in Heaven??? And since we ALL form the Mystical Body of Christ (you really oughta read up on this one) we all are to “look out for each other”.. How do we do that? Pray.

Constantine August 12, 2008 at 9:58 am

Hi tnourse,
I’ll thank you to shoot fish in your own barrel! J
He thought the angel was Jesus? Where does it say that? Revelation 19:9 says pretty clearly, “Then the angel said to me…”. Same thing in Rev. 22:6, “The angel said to me…” So John himself said it was an angel, he didn’t think it was Jesus.
I don’t think I’m adding a “dimension”. In the first passage the quote is, “Worship God!” In the second passage it is, “Worship God!” You quote Hebrews 12:1 but you should continue to verse 2: “Fix your eyes on Jesus…” Do you see the theme? Worship God, fix your eyes on Jesus. All the way from Hebrews to Revelation.
And of course, one of the great themes of Hebrews is the finished work of Christ. (You can see Heb. 9:15, 10:10, etc.). So the cloud is of “witnesses” to the finished work, not “intercessors” for work yet undone. Christ’s work is finished. Or do you think Christ missed something?
“For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” 1 Timothy 2:5
That’s why prayers for the dead are meaningless.
I have to go count my fish now, tnouse. If you shot one of them……….
Have a great day!

Tim J. August 12, 2008 at 10:12 am

“Christ’s work is finished. Or do you think Christ missed something?”
Maybe you should ask the apostle Paul;
“Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.”
- Colossians 1:24
But that’s off topic, as it seems to have nothing to do with asking the saints for prayer.
“That’s why prayers for the dead are meaningless.”
You keep saying that, but keep failing to demonstrate it. Repeating it over and over doesn’t help your case.
Anything that prayer can help accomplish for the dead is done through the grace of Christ. It’s all Christ, which is what you are missing. The Pope points to Christ, the saints point to Christ, Mary points to Christ…

tnourse August 12, 2008 at 10:41 am

Okay… Remember, this is John, the “beloved disciple” whom layed his head on Christ’s breast. He was the only apostle who did not run away… he was the apostle that Christ entrusted his mother to while on the cross. John “new” Jesus. John would not be the first guy to do a nose-dive in worship of ANYONE OTHER THAN CHRIST. But John did bow down nose-first in prostration before the angel. How could he have done this? Was he high on crack? Was he delirious with joy to the point of becoming stupid? No, I would argue that the appearance of an angel in it’s glory is so superior and awesome of a sight that John didn’t KNOW whom he was seeing, and based on the beautiful appearance of the angel Assumed that Christ was standing in front of him, prostrated himself in worship. John would NEVER prostrate himself in worship to anyone else.
Next: If our salvation were truly finished the world would have ended… The redemption is finished yes, but redemption <> salvation as the redemption must be applied in our lives to reach salvation. That is why Paul can say in Colossians 1:24 “Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church”. So no, I’m not saying Christ needs to do more work, we need to do the “more work” to apply his redemptive suffering and death to our lives, otherwise how could Paul say that something is lacking???. BTW, this is off topic.
To reply to your comment about the cloud being witnesses to the finished work, you have removed an important piece of the context (Heb; 12:1-2 (NIV)):
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
You left out the part about how we have to “run with perseverance”– not accomplished yet at all. We can only say we’ve persevered when it’s all over and we get to Heaven (the race is finished). If the witnesses were to a completed event (which they couldn’t be as no one could enter Heaven to BE a witness until AFTER Christ’s death (except for Elijah, etc)) then the rest of the verse(s) could NOT refer to running a race that is marked out for us (not yet run).
Next, “That’s why prayers for the dead are meaningless”… then how could God say “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” after they “died” and, how could Jesus tell the Pharisee that “He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living (Matt. 12:24-26)? So He is no longer the God of these guys??? IOW, we are not praying for the “dead” per-se, because in God’s eyes they are not “dead”, they are alive. Yes, their body has died, but will be reunited again with their “living” soul at the final judgement. Our souls are immortal (never die) so they in effect are alive in Heaven, even more alive than we are because they are now in the presence of Christ glorified.
Just out of curiosity, how do you interpret Christ saying “It is finished” on the Cross??? WHAT is finished… before you say our redemption/salvation, better look and see what Paul has to say about that… His resurrection is required also for the work of redemption to be complete, so either Jesus was confused, Paul was confused or, that is not what he meant. See Scott Hahn’s discussion on the “4th Cup” and you’ll see that what “it is finished” really means (Hint: The Paschal Sacrifice — since I’ll assume that you won’t read/listen to it).
May God bless you and your family!

Mary Kay August 12, 2008 at 1:40 pm

So….Constantine. Let me repeat my question:
a friend asks you to pray for him and you tell him, “Sorry, can’t do that, the only way is for you to take it directly to God.” Is that what you do?

Constantine August 15, 2008 at 11:14 am

Hi Mary,
Thank you for your question. I apologize for being tardy in my response but I was called out of town and have just returned.
With regard to any question about interpretation, I would encourage all of us to be familiar with Acts 17. The Holy Spirit uses Luke to tell us to test everything we hear against the Scriptures. Even when it came from the Apostle Paul who received his teaching directly from the risen Jesus! (Galatians 1:12) So whatever I may offer, don’t trust it! Check it out.
And not being an expert in Revelation, I can only offer what other sources have said in that it seems right to me (but you have to check it out!) One source offers that the “harps” in Revelation 5:8 signify praise to God and the “incense” is worship. So the combination of praise and worship is offered as the ideal for saints coming before God to worship Him. Because, according to one view, Revelation 4-22 takes place at a future time, the “incense” offered to God would probably not be our present day prayers. Because we know that God does answer prayers in the present, they would not need to be offered in the future. (At least, the intercessory ones.)
So check this out, if you like. I’m anxious to hear what you think.
I feel pretty sure about the need for 5:8 to be consistent with 19:10 and 22:8,9 in that we should worship God directly.
Peace to you, Mary. Thanks for the interaction.

Constantine August 15, 2008 at 11:33 am

So….Constantine. Let me repeat my question:
a friend asks you to pray for him and you tell him, “Sorry, can’t do that, the only way is for you to take it directly to God.” Is that what you do?
Hi Mary Kay,
Thanks for the question. I’m sorry if I missed it the first time!!
If a friend asks (or most of the time when they don’t even ask!) me to pray for them, I would never reject them. I think the context of all of this is to whom would I offer the prayer? And I would have to pray directly to God for him/her. In fact, it would be a great joy to pray with them, for them to God.
I was just interacting with somebody else and was reminded of an incredible passage in Paul’s letter to the Romans. Chapter 8:26-27 to be exact. I would commend it your meditation some time. It tells how God takes our feeble prayers, before we even know them and has His Spirit perfect them as an acceptable offering to Him. Wow. Why would we need anybody else?
In fact, the Catechism says exactly the same thing:
2564 Christian prayer is a covenant relationship between God and man in Christ. It is the action of God and of man, springing forth from both the Holy Spirit and ourselves, wholly directed to the Father, in union with the human will of the Son of God made man.
Isn’t that great? The Catechism agrees with the Scriptures that prayer is “…wholly directed to the Father.” I think that is the point of this whole thing. At least about whom we pray “to”. (HT to Bill for keeping me straight on my prepositions!)
I’m sorry if I gave you the impression that I would reject prayer, at any time.
Blessings to you, Mary Kay. Thanks for taking the time.

Constantine August 15, 2008 at 1:13 pm

Hi tnourse,
Well you are a man of great passion! (I assume you are a man, and am horribly embarrassed if I’m wrong!!) Thanks for your energy!
You put so much stuff in your response that I’m going to break it up into three or four replies. That way it will be easier for us to deal with and for anybody else to read, too.
Here’s #1:
The Angel in Revelation 19 and 22.
You wrote:
No, I would argue that the appearance of an angel in it’s glory is so superior and awesome of a sight that John didn’t KNOW whom he was seeing, and based on the beautiful appearance of the angel
You could argue that, t, but that’s not what John said. Right before the John fell at the angel’s feet in 19:10, he wrote, “Then the angel said to me…” In Revelation 22:8, John specifically says, “I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel.” So you may want to argue the contrary, but you’d be arguing with John, not with me. John knew it was an angel.

Constantine August 15, 2008 at 1:40 pm

Hi t,
Here’s #2
You wrote:
If our salvation were truly finished the world would have ended… The redemption is finished yes, but redemption <> salvation as the redemption must be applied in our lives to reach salvation.
Redemption is finished but not applied? Then it’s not finished. It’s prepared to be finished, but not finished. God’s work is done, t.
“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” John 5:24
He has crossed over. Past tense. That’s what Jesus said, not me.
You then wrote:
That is why Paul can say in Colossians 1:24 “Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking…, otherwise how could Paul say that something is lacking???.
In Colossians 1:24, Paul is talking not what is lacking in salvation, but what is lacking in his earthly mission. What were Christ’s afflictions? Well, they were all those things that led to Christ’s death – His earthly mission, torment by unbelievers, unjust accusations, the weakness of His disciples, His trial and then wrongful death. That’s what Paul is getting ready for in the days ahead. He’s getting ready for his own “afflictions”. That’s what was lacking for Paul, nothing else.
In terms of finished salvation, please go back a few verses in Colossians 1 to verse 13.
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Now Paul is talking about the elect,the God’s chosen people. Please note that everything is in the past tense. “He HAS rescued us”, He “BROUGHT us into the kingdom”. “in whom we HAVE redemption….” That’s entirely consistent with the rest of Paul’s teachings (see Romans 8:30, Ephesians 1:4, 11; Philippians 2:13, and very interestingly, 1 Peter 1:3-4, too). There is nothing lacking in God’s finished work.
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. Romans 8:29-30
Peace.

Tim J. August 15, 2008 at 1:51 pm

“Wow. Why would we need anybody else?”
So… why would anyone need you to pray for them? Why would you pray on behalf of anyone else, when they (by your interpretation) should go directly to God?
That’s all we are doing, as Catholics… asking people to pray for us and with us. It’s just that these people are already in heaven and “alive in Christ”, because “He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”.

Constantine August 15, 2008 at 2:09 pm

Here’s #3, t.
You wrote:
Next, “That’s why prayers for the dead are meaningless”… then how could God say “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” after they “died” and, how could Jesus tell the Pharisee that “He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living (Matt. 12:24-26)? So He is no longer the God of these guys???
First let me thank you very much for using Matthew 22 (I think you mistyped 12 but 22 is where your quote is.) You made me look at it more seriously than I had before. So, thanks.
What’s going on here? Well, those pesky Sadducees are testing Jesus. They give Jesus an impossible riddle to solve. (I’ll let you read it for yourselves.) They try to trap Him with the Law of Moses. Why? Because they are the self-proclaimed experts AND followers of Moses (so they say.) Well, if they are followers of Moses, they should know what he knows, right? Ok, how did God identify Himself to Moses? He spoke to Moses from the burning bush saying what? “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” (Exodus 3:6). Notice that Jesus quotes that verse verbatim. Why? To let the Sadducees know, just like He let Moses know thousands of years before, that He is God. God is standing right in front of them, using the same words He used to prove His existence to Moses in the desert– and they don’t even know it! The Sadducees claimed to be followers of Moses but they can’t hear what Moses heard How could they not know it? They don’t know it because they are spiritually dead. And Jesus is not the “God of the dead, but the God of the living.” He is God to those that have been given the new birth (1 Peter 1:3; John 3). (You can see more about the unbelief of the Jews in John 10.)
What a fantastic display of God’s will.
So t, I don’t think this has anything to do with our topic of “Prayers for/to the dead” but it is a great, great lesson. Let’s keep after it if you want.
BTW – I forgot to thank you for blessing me and my family in an earlier post. Thank you. And I wish God’s great blessing on you and yours. And for all that read these words. For His Glory!

Constantine August 15, 2008 at 3:44 pm

Hi Tim,
Thanks for this.
I may not have been clear here. Bill corrected me earlier about my misuse of prepositions so maybe I did it again! Let me see if I can do a little better…..
The question I was trying to answer with the quote you use, was, If “…there is only One Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5)” why would we pray TO anybody else? It seems that what Paul is telling us is, “Jesus is your man! He is THE mediator!” That is whom we should pray “to”. (Echoing Jesus’ own commands to pray, “Our Father….”)
Now, you asked a little different question, Tim. “Why would anyone need you to pray FOR them?” Very clearly we are commanded to pray for each other. So that we may be “sons of God, that we not “fall into temptation”, etc. (May I ask you to pray for me?) And I’m certain that all Christians do this, and rightly. So we are commanded to pray FOR each other, for a variety of reasons. But when we pray FOR each other it should be TO God alone.
I hope that is a little clearer.
So my point, made badly I guess, is that it seems right to pray only to God (as Jesus said) for the living only.
Please take a look at an earlier post about the meaning of Matthew 22 and the “God of the living” quote. It may be clearer in context.
Thank you for your patience.
God’s blessings to you and yours.

tnourse August 19, 2008 at 2:00 pm

Constantine,
You say ” So you may want to argue the contrary, but you’d be arguing with John, not with me. John knew it was an angel.”
If John knew it was *only* an angel, then why did he bow down in worship? My point was John knew who Jesus was, knew he was only to worship God, yet he bowed down in worship nonetheless… are you saying he was trying to intentionally worship an angel? Please explain. Also, not sure how we got off on this tangent, but may be useful to someone :-)
Tom
PS: and yes, I’m a guy

Leo August 22, 2008 at 9:51 am

Many Lutherans and Calvinists have a high regard for many of St Augustine’s ideas. Since it is coming up his feast day …
Confessions of St Augustine book 9
St Monica’s deathbed request to her son.
27. “Only this I ask: that you will remember me at the Lord’s altar, wherever you are.”
St Augustine prays to God for his deceased parents and begs his readers to do the same
35. Thus now, O my Praise and my Life, O God of my heart, forgetting for a little her good deeds for which I give joyful thanks to thee, I now beseech thee for the sins of my mother. Hearken unto me, through that Medicine of our wounds, who didst hang upon the tree and who sittest at thy right hand “making intercession for us.” (Rom 8:34). I know that she acted in mercy, and from the heart forgave her debtors their debts. (Matt 6:12). I beseech thee also to forgive her debts, whatever she contracted during so many years since the water of salvation. Forgive her, O Lord, forgive her, I beseech thee; “enter not into judgment” with her. (Ps 143:2). Let thy mercy be exalted above thy justice, for thy words are true and thou hast promised mercy to the merciful, that the merciful shall obtain mercy. (Matt 5:7). This is thy gift, who hast mercy on whom thou wilt and who wilt have compassion on whom thou dost have compassion on. (cf. Rom. 9:15).
37. Therefore, let her rest in peace with her husband, … And inspire, O my Lord my God, inspire thy servants, my brothers; thy sons, my masters, who with voice and heart and writings I serve, that as many of them as shall read these confessions may also at thy altar remember Monica, thy handmaid, together with Patricius, once her husband; by whose flesh thou didst bring me into this life, in a manner I know not. May they with pious affection remember my parents in this transitory life, and remember my brothers under thee our Father in our Catholic mother; and remember my fellow citizens in the eternal Jerusalem, for which thy people sigh in their pilgrimage from birth until their return. So be fulfilled what my mother desired of me–more richly in the prayers of so many gained for her through these confessions of mine than by my prayers alone.

K.Charanyanond. November 1, 2008 at 7:45 pm

Thanks for your post,I’ve learn some information and get new idea to work with.

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