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Faith/Spirituality Forum: praying to those who have died

by Catherine Frakas 14 May 2001

praying to those who have died QUESTION from Debbie August 22, 2001: My Dad died suddenly in his sleep 20 months ago today. He appeared to be in very good health so it was a real shock. He was a very loving, Godly man, went to daily mass,was active in ministry to shut ins, prayed the rosary and other prayers daily. I have every reason to believe he is in heaven or at least that his purgatory would be short. Raising a daughter like me was probably purgatory on earth.
My mother took his death very hard, but is carrying on. She told me that she still talks to him at night when she can't sleep and not much has changed, because he neveranswered when he was alive and she did this. I reasurred her that it is ok to talk to Dad as long as she doesn't try to contact him and she doesn't.
I pray for my dad in case he is still in purgatory, but I also pray to him, ask for help. Is that wrong?
My mother is upset because one of her friends has visions of my dad wandering around in a group of man, holding a sign that says Jerusalem and said he does not know that he is dead. I told her that her friend is a crack pot and that the church teaches that after death there is either heaven, hell or purgatory, but in one of your forums you said there may be spirits of people wandering around who don't know they are dead. Please explain that? could my dad, out of love be suffereing in reparation for my sins and those of my fallen away brothers? My dad loved my mom so much. I can't imagine him being happy in heaven, knowing she is suffering, and that his sons and grandchildren are walking away from Christ. Is he suffering because of us?
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on August 27, 2001 Dear Mrs. Debbie:
My condolescenses for your father. We will be in prayer for his soul.
Is is wrong to privately pray to your father? No, as long as you don't try to contact him through occult means and that you realize that you cannot know for sure if he hears you. We cannot know if he is in heaven, purgatory, or hell.
You most certainly should pray FOR him just in case he is in purgatory.
As for your mother's friend who has these visions I would suggest that you mother cease contact with this person. This sounds like wacko-dom to me.
It is possible that God may allow a person to linger for a short while right after death, or perhaps to linger longer when their is a hard time of the person letting go. This is up to God's providence. But dead spirits do not roam around not knowing they are dead. This vision of your mother's friend is not of God.
If your father is in heaven, he is in eternal bliss. He is not suffering if he is in heaven for there is no suffering in heaven. He may be rejoicing at the troubles with the grandchildren and the suffering of his wife. He may be thanking God for it! Why? Because God may have let him know that these suffering will, eventually and in the end, bring the grandchildren to be great men and women of God, and may bring his wife to be closer to God that ever before.
In any event, while he may be concerned for his loved ones and prays to God for them, if he is in heaven he experiences no suffering. He does not suffer in reparation for the sins of those on earth. After death the issue is own own sins.
It is WE who can offer suffering for those in purgatory.
You family needs to remember that God is not a liar. He promised that nothing would come into our lives that we cannot handle. God said that. Either it is true, or God is a liar.
God also says that all things work together for good to those who love God. That means that even those bad things happen, if we let God, God can take the lemons of life and make lemonade. God promised that. Either it is true or God is a liar.
Have faith, encourage your mother to remember her faith. Stay close to God and he will get everyone through this trial.
God Bless.
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