Contacting the Dead: Jewish and Catholic views

From reading the old testament it seems petty clear that you are not supposed to contact the dead in any way. The most memorable instance where this comes up Samuel when King Saul uses the Witch of Endor to contact Samuel’s spirit/soul. Saul is cursed for this.

Many Catholics petition Mary to ask God or Jesus something on their behalf.

I am just wondering what Catholics, Protestants, and Jews think on this matter.

The only difference I see is that Saul was using a pagan medium.

What are the different views of various monotheistic religions on contacting the dead?

Also from the New Testament (NASB):

1 Timothy 2:5- For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself for the human race.

First off… in case you didn’t realize, the tombs of the Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs (particularly the Tomb of Rachel) are places of pilgrimage and prayer for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Rachel is the “patron saint” of women who desperately want children, and there is a red thread custom connected with her grave.

Second off, you seem to think that chatting with people through God is the exact same thing as necromancy. So obviously, Jesus was doing necromancy to chat with Elijah and Moses, and the apostles with him should have shrunk away in horror instead of planning to put up some nice booths for the prophets to stay in.

Third, the whole point of the story with Saul and Samuel and the Witch of Endor was that necromancy basically is stupid, because the dead aren’t ever going to be under our control, and especially not under the control of “magic.”. Samuel didn’t show up because the Witch of Endor fetched him; he went because the Lord God sent him to give Saul one last message. (And he gave him an earful.)

Those who have died but have life in Christ are more alive than we are; they are eternally alive and they are active. We are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, in fact; and they are not just passive spectators watching TV, but actively urging us on. We cannot hear their cheers and their songs of praise to Jesus, but we know they are there. Snubbing them seems rather rude, considering that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.

“The souls of the just are in the hand of God…” It was only “in the sight of the unwise, they seemed to die…” (Wis. 3:1-2) But we share the same life in Christ, and so all Christians should know better than to think that chatting with those in eternal life is the same thing as making mutters and moans to try to enslave the damned.

Yeah, I have heard about Jews making pilgimages to tombs. Rachel tomb is the only one I have ever heard of that some may pray through, but in general, from what I have heard, Jews don’t pray to or through any of the Patriarchs.

Not even close to what I was talking about.

I know what you are referring to, but I don’t see how this applies to what I am discussing.

I pretty much agree with you on this, but your first point here could have been phrased a bit more eloquently.

Yeah, but dead is referring to the death of the body, not the spirit/soul. If their souls were dead as well, then you would not be able to contact them. If people believed the soul was dead too, they would not even try to contact them.

Thanks for the reply,

The saints in heaven are more alive than we are.

What is your point?

Praying through the saints is not summoning the dead.

Whether you want to call them dead or refer to them as spirits or souls that are alive (but not in their bodies), it all means the same thing. This is so obvious that I am having a hard time figuring out whether you are being serious or not. I would like to give you the benefit of the doubt, but it feels like you are just playing games with words. Maybe we are just misunderstanding each other. I am not interested in debating the definition of the word dead. I want to know what Catholics, Protestants, Jews etc. think on this issue of contacting the departed.

I do note that you are quoting the NASB bible, an evangelical translation.
That may be coincidental, but evangelicals loathe the idea of asking the Saints in heaven for their prayers. Don’t answer me on here, but I’m just wondering if you are being influenced by these people (nonCatholics) ?? Especially because you quote the “one mediator between God and man” verse, and apply it incorrectly to our asking the Saints for their help, something a convinced Catholic would know is a gross misunderstanding of that text AND OF praying to the Saints.

As for the Old Testament, it was a prohibition against summoning up the dead.
The curse was on witches and mediums.(mediums would perform chants and incantations, similar to a seance, in which the spirit of the dead person would be summoned up, i.e., back into this realm. Now, the spirits are under the control of God,
so when a Medium (such as the witch of En-DOR) summons a dead person’s spirit,
what normally shows up, impersonating the dead person, is a Demon, who will without fail try to deceive you in many ways about many important things.
This practice was strictly forbidden to the Jews.
And it is forbidden to Catholics, too, by the way, though (just like Contraception), there are a number of Catholics who ignore the prohibition and USE seances and Ouija boards and other spiritistic things.

Jews do not have a concept of a ONE MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD AND MAN, THE MAN CHRIST JESUS, and therefore don’t conceive of the Saints UNITED TO JESUS CHRIST IN HEAVEN being able to pray to him for and with us. In general, except perhaps in the case of Rachel, they do NOT ask the departed for their prayers, though some “mystical” Jewish types do in some cases, but not in general at all.
My college best friend is a Jewish woman. She doesn’t ask Moses for his prayers, but she will, I can tell from what she says, ask the assistance of the Archangel Raphael (whose name means God Heals), as she suffered through the horror of breast cancer and survived it, and would also invoke Archangel MICHAEL because he is understood by Jews to be the Protector Angel of ISRAEL.

If you think that because THERE IS ONE MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD AND MAN, THE MAN CHRIST JESUS, that we therefore cannot lawfully ask the saints in heaven for THEIR prayers for us too because that makes them unlawful “Mediators” between God and man,
then this logically absolutely MUST also apply to asking for the prayers of your fellow Christians on earth because, whether still in their fleshly bodies on earth, or out of them
as glorious heavenly spirits, they are STILL creatures and not equal to Jesus “THE ONE MEDIATOR” and if the saints in heaven praying for you is an idolatrous viewing of them as “MEDIATORS” detracting from Christ’s Mediation,
then, 100% for sure, SO IS asking your fellow Christians on earth to pray for you,
for “mediation is mediation,” no matter by whom done, the earthly believers or the Saints in heaven (who have attained a far higher degree of holiness up there than ANY of your brothers down here, and whose prayers, therefore, would be MUCH MORE effective).

ONLY a person influenced by post 16th century manmade Protestantism would be
influenced by that ONE MEDIATOR quote to not ask the Saints for their prayers
and they **and only they **would invoke that quote, not understanding that it does not forbid Christians (alive or in the afterlife) praying to Jesus and the Father for each other.

No Christian anywhere on earth for the first 1521 years of Christianity ever thought that Christ being our one mediator, forbade asking each others or the heavenly saints, prayers.
Invoking the prayers of now-supernatural saints, is not the same as necromancy, summoning up the spirits of the dead.

In general, very much so, Jews do not pray “TO” the righteous dead. But I know Jews who do speak to their departed loved ones and ask them to remember them before the throne of HaShem (God). And my elderly neighbor, the only one in her huge family to survive the Nazis, was visited in Auschwitz by her dead father, who appeared at the foot of her bed and assured her that she was personally going to survive and go on to live a long life, which she, and she alone out of the whole family, DID.
Incidentally, though their belief on this is less severe than ours, Jews DO believe in a 12 month kind of “purgatory” after death, which is why they pray for the dead for 11 months (not wanting to insult them by implying that they were so bad as to need the entire 12 months of purification).

That is because Mary is alive full and well in Heaven.

It’s okay.

Saul asked a medium to RAISE somebody back from the dead. That is totally different from the intercession of Mary.

Mortal sin, it will wound and curse you.


Thank you for the intelligent answer.:thumbsup::thumbsup:

(Actually I guess I made a mistake, it is a Catholic Bible I’m using. NAB I believe would be correct, not NASB.)


Originally Posted by Credo ergo sum
Praying through the saints is not summoning the dead.

Whether you want to call them dead or refer to them as spirits or souls that are alive (but not in their bodies), it all means the same thing.

It all absolutely does not mean the same thing.
Praying to or through the saints is NOT summoning the dead, which was forbidden in
the Jewish Tanakh (the Old Testament).
Again, the Law of Moses placed a curse on witches and mediums and those who summoned the dead.
This was a widespread practice in the ancient world BEFORE God, through Moses, introduced the Law. (( This is how you can know that the Jehovah’ Witnesses are wrong when they claim that the Bible’s Jews did not believe in the existence of our
souls or spirits, because Moses had to FORBID THEM to try to summon them back into this world, by the way )). The widespread practice was necromancy, during which a medium or a group of people trying to act as mediums (like in today’s seances) would use special chants and incantations and perhaps smoke and incense etc, to summon up, basically control, a departed spirit / soul and force him to return to this realm to give them information or whatever. Saul did it specifically to get SAMUEL to come up and give him advice and reassurance.
Please note: King Saul did not merely say, “Holy Prophet Samuel, please pray for me to God that He will forgive my sins and deliver me from the pagan armies.”, and leave it at that and not try to call up his spirit and consult him.
That would not be, even then, the same thing as the summoning up and consulting
of the dead.

No, he went to a medium, a “witch,” the witch of En-Dor,
which witches he, Saul, had years before tried to drive out of Israel completely,
and asked her to use her powers to CALL UP (i.e. back into this realm) the ghost of
SAMUEL. Now, witches / mediums had what we and scripture call “Familiar Spirits.”
In other words, some of them at least, knew that in summoning the spirits of the dead,
they were pulling a ruse on the people. They may not have known that their familliar spirit was what we today in the church call “a Demon,” but they knew it was their, one, familiar spirit. It would appear, pretending to be Aunt Sylvia or Uncle Schlomo or whoever.

THIS time, by GOD’s power (for a medium herself cannot truly bring up a dead person’s soul), SAMUEL showed up. This explains why, as scripture records, the witch of En-DOR screamed in terror, turned to Saul and accusingly yelled at him (in fear for her life),
“You have TRICKED ME !!! YOU are SAUL !!!” This was because she knew that previously, Saul tried to have executed every medium who was discovered to be one.
She realized that THIS SPIRIT really WAS the Prophet Samuel and NOT her Familiar Spirit, and was scared of being put to death by Saul. Perhaps she believed that Saul and God and Samuel were all in this together as a really clever way to detect and execute MORE mediums, this time HER.

Saul had to REASSURE HER that he was not going to kill her, and she calmed down. Then Samuel spoke, and instead of calming Saul down, Samuel blasted him for engaging in Necromancy and thus angering God, and
then told him he was going to die in battle, which is precisely what happened.

When you pray to the Saints, or speak to them and praise the virtues that they developed in life in union with Christ and the Holy Spirit, you are not, not, not, not, not “Summoning the Dead,” in the sense that scripture condemns at all. That is necromancy, this is not.

Your argumentation to the previous posters reveals a protestant mentality, something a Catholic would never have unless he or she has been listeing to protestant writers or speakers, or, who is a protestant, pretending to be a Catholic, lurking on these forums, which sometimes does happen here.
Catholics have a certain “worldview” and an associated “manner of speaking” that is consonant ONLY with a Catholic “worldview”.
Protestants have a “worldview” and an associated “manner or way of speaking,” as well,
which is consonant/consistent ONLY with people whose mindsets are protestant and NOT catholic and even sometimes antiCatholic.
And their arguments give them away, eventually, 100% of the time,
even when, on their visible profile here, they list their religion as “Catholic.”

That is not at all what I said. I never said that praying to and summoning the dead were the same thing. I was talking about the “smart” answers that I was getting about the definition of being dead.


  1. I think you have misunderstood my previous posts

  2. The reason I am asking about this is because three of my four grandparents were Catholic and the other was Protestant. My mom was raised Catholic. My dad’s father abandoned his family, so he was raised by his Protestant mother. I am curious about this issue because none of my many Catholic relatives ever prayed through Mary or the Saints as far as I know.


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