Is it bad to pray to the dead who are not yet canonized?

Obviously it is a good and holy thing to pray to a canonized saint for his/her intercession.

Also, it is a good and holy thing to pray to the souls in purgatory because they can intercede for us as well.

But can someone just pray to a dead person who they think is in heaven/purgatory? What if the person were in hell, unbeknownst to us? Would that be bad?

All prayers ultimately go to God. By praying to someone who has died, though not canonized (perhaps like a relative), we express hope in God’s mercy. A good thing to do might be to pray for their salvation, and also pray to them that they might pray for you once they attain it. Remember that time does not exist after death, thus even if a soul must pass through purgatory first, once they are in Heaven they can still pray for you.

It is definitely good to pray…and pray always. We say we believe in the communion of saints, well saints are people who have lived ordinary lives and are enjoying the mercy of God. So pray always! Let God sort them out.

[quote=Dr. Colossus]All prayers ultimately go to God. By praying to someone who has died, though not canonized (perhaps like a relative), we express hope in God’s mercy. A good thing to do might be to pray for their salvation, and also pray to them that they might pray for you once they attain it. Remember that time does not exist after death, thus even if a soul must pass through purgatory first, once they are in Heaven they can still pray for you.
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This seems like very true and wise advise. But my concern is what if I thought it is pretty likely that the person is in purgatory, but in reality the person is in hell. Would that be bad? Or are you trying to say that my prayer would still be ultimately directed to God because of my intention?

my sister died at 18 months… she’s a saint, not canonized but a saint none-the-less… i pray to her regularly… mostly regularly… :thumbsup:

Thank you, all who have replied. I’m also wondering if there is something about this (prayer to someone even if I’m not sure they are in heaven/purgatory) in the catechism or in one of the many church documents.

As people are canonized after interceding on behalf of the earthbound (who likely asked, ie prayed, for their help), doesn’t this mean that many saints were prayed to before the Church recognized them as such.

I too have a sister who died in infancy and have asked for her aid (as have other family members, my mother did often). I also have a great uncle who may someday be beatified. I pray to them both.

I think I asked the same questions you did, quintessential, in one of my recent threads: Is it right to ask someone (yet to be canonized) who is deceased, to pray for you when that person may very well be in hell?!

:eek:

I wonder if anyone has a good answer to that.

Isn’t this how a miracle needed to advance someone’s cause for beatification has to occur?

[quote=quintessential5]Obviously it is a good and holy thing to pray to a canonized saint for his/her intercession.

Also, it is a good and holy thing to pray to the souls in purgatory because they can intercede for us as well.

But can someone just pray to a dead person who they think is in heaven/purgatory? What if the person were in hell, unbeknownst to us? Would that be bad?
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No, it is not bad, at all :slight_smile:

If only the canonised could be prayed to, no further canonisations would be possible :slight_smile:

The very first stage of the process that ends - when it does so end - in canonisation, begins with recognition of the holiness of the person in question, by that person’s neighbours. Canonisation starts from the bottom - it is not imposed from the top.

AFAIK, one can pray to anyone that one believes to be in Heaven.

No prayer is wasted; of that we can be certain. IMO we should let God “worry” about whether the “address” of a prayer is “correct”, and not worry in case it is not - because all prayer is ultimately the work of the Blessed Trinity. It is all within His Providence - just like everything else in life :slight_smile: ##

A priest in my parish remembers the death of his baby brother, who was less than a year old, when he was a small child. He always regards his brother as watching over him and praying for him. It is an important support to his priesthood.

Thank you, everyone. Before starting this thread I think I had also come to the private conclusion that we must be able to pray to anyone who is dead or else how would a saint ever be canonized? (as some of you have noted) Everyone seems to agree with this conclusion. If this is true this leads me to a few more questions.

  1. What, then, is the purpose of the canonization process if I already know I can pray to the person?
  2. If it’s probably ok that the person might be in hell…would it be ok to even pray to someone of whom I have no clue where they are. What if I think it’s quite possible they’re in heaven and quite possible they’re in hell, but this person was a good friend of mine. Would it be ok to pray to them for their intercession? Would it then be ok to even pray to someone who I think is very probably in hell, but of course, only God knows, and so maybe they’re in heaven?

I know it almost sounds like I’m asking stupid questions here, but I figured this could have real practical application. For instance, if I have a friend who seems to be trying to live a godly life who may not be living in the fullness of the truth, they could quite possibly be “anywhere” after death. But there may just be some issue in my spiritual life that I would always talk to that person about… What do you guys think? (Or even better, what do you guys know based on church teaching?)

[quote=Joe Kelley]A priest in my parish remembers the death of his baby brother, who was less than a year old, when he was a small child. He always regards his brother as watching over him and praying for him. It is an important support to his priesthood.
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That’s beautiful…that’s totally what I’m talking about. Thank you very much.

I pray to people who have died and aren’t canonized. I have a brother who died on the day he was born and I’ve come to believe that he’s been interceding for my family since then. I pray to him as well as another very holy person who had died.

There is nothing wrong with this. Even if, by our limited understanding, that person is likely in hell, we don’t know that and we can still pray to that person.

For non-Catholics in here we should point out that when we say praying, we’re not talking about worship. We simply believe in eternal life, and that God allows those who are in Heaven or Purgatory to hear our prayers to them. Just like we ask people on earth to pray for us.

People in Purgatory can hear our prayers and intercede for us. In my prayer life, I have an automatic condition, that if the person is in Purgatory, then they prayer is for their benefit. If they are in Heaven then the prayer if for my intention. If, God forbid, they are in Hell, then the prayer is for the person in most need who has no one else to pray for them.

The Church canonizes people so that they can be honored and prayed to publicly. In fact, it is illicit to publicly pray to or venerate anyone who is not canonized. At least, in a Mass or other official Church liturgy or function. I’m not sure if a private group of lay people could do that publicly or not.

Pax et bonum

[quote=quintessential5]Obviously it is a good and holy thing to pray to a canonized saint for his/her intercession.

Also, it is a good and holy thing to pray to the souls in purgatory because they can intercede for us as well.

But can someone just pray to a dead person who they think is in heaven/purgatory? What if the person were in hell, unbeknownst to us? Would that be bad?
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We do not see the psresent(ie,active) works of God

[quote=Prester John]We do not see the psresent(ie,active) works of God
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Hmmm…I’m not sure where you’re going with this…

I think it is good to pray for/to the dead. I have a grandmother who died when I was nine, we shared a birthday and she named me so we had a special bond. I talk to her (I guess you would call that praying in the “pray-thee” sense), and when I pray the rosary, I sometimes offer it for her, in case she is in purgatory.

I also ask for intercession from my husband’s sister, who died at the age of 7, almost exactly nine months before he was born. We strongly feel that she intercedes for us, and that she is in heaven, in God’s presence.

Shirelle

[quote=quintessential5]Hmmm…I’m not sure where you’re going with this…
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I apologize for the tardiness of my post. However, a recent visit to Beirut has reminded me of the brevity, as well as the limit of human existence.

In my opinion, there is no sin regarding prayers to the dead. And no sin in optimism. Hope this clarifies, at least somewhat, where I went with this… in sum I fall upon the warning of St Athanasius: ( Dear Lord, I hope I’m not embarrassing myself by quoting the wrong saint!!!)" one cannot limit the mercy of God."

Regardless of this, it is important to be honest here . Truthfully, Quintessential5, I blurted out the first thing that came to mind, and did not actually use the brain God gave me. It is a serious fault; if you look at my previous posts, you can readily see that I am prone to hot-headedness and careless words, especially when my passions rob my good sense. I work to try to correct this.

But I hope that many whom I knew and loved are either Home, or on their way There, and it hurts a bit to think that God might be angry at me for opportunistic optimism…and yet, still I hope…

I don’t think it is bad to pray in hope…for me, for them. As Dr Colossus said, all prayers go, ultimately, to God .

Most respectfully, and kindest regards,
Prester John

Yes, you can start you prayers to Archbishop Lefebvre right now, even though he isn’t canonized yet.

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