Is It "Wrong" To Claim Someone Is In Heaven?

I have always believed that is is not our place to decide where someone’s resting place is. It seems like there is no one left who believes this?? Everytime someone passes, I always here the family members say they are with God. When my own grandmother died a year ago, I had many people from church tell me she is at peace now. I didn’t disagree but I really don’t know that for sure ( hence all the masses and prayers for her soul).

Also, I overheard something at church which left me a bit confused. A women (who left the church) was in the hospital, she was unresponsive. She was given last rites and died shortly thereafter. Her children were very upset, mainly because they were scared that their mother, being a fallen away catholic, was not saved. Two members of our church, very active members, assured and comforted the grown children that their mother was indeed in heaven as she received last rites. I am pretty sure this is not correct. Anyone care to clarify the churches teaching on this?

if she was conscious and awake-- when she had her “last confession” then you can be conforted – that she is in purgatory

so go with that answer

Purgatory | Catholic Answers‎

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines purgatory as a "purification, so as … The purification is necessary because, as Scripture teaches, nothing unclean …

I prefer not to assume things. My father passed away a few months ago, and many, both Catholic, and especially Protestant, were all saying he was already with God. I hope so, but I don’t make any assumptions.

I don’t think my brothers and sisters in my family who are Protestant pray for souls, and I intend to pray for my father’s soul, and others, for the rest of my life.

So, I think we can hope so, but unless someone’s actually a canonized saint, I don’t think it’s prudent to make any assumptions, to err on the side of caution, and offer prayers, masses, sacrifices, almsgiving, etc. for the souls in purgatory, just in case.

If the person’s in heaven, he just won’t need the prayers. If he’s in purgatory, he’d appreciate them, and help him get an earlier release date.

A couple of issues here, and the contexts are different, for each of the sacramental actions.

First, let’s assume that by saying ‘last rites’, we understand that to mean sacramental confession, anointing of the sick, (and possibly the apostolic pardon).

As you mention, sacramental confession presumes the will of the person is active, and the person is sorry for their sins. So, if she’s ‘conscious and awake’, but unable to speak or express herself, but is not contrite, then we would be hard-pressed to say that she is truly absolved of her sins.

Now, if she’s unable to express herself but is contrite, then we could see where the absolution is valid. After all, couldn’t we consider it as somewhat equivalent to the case of general absolution, requiring later auricular confession, if that ever becomes possible?

With respect to the anointing, it is not required that the person is conscious, but only that they are alive. Is it too far-fetched to suggest that if the healing given to the person is spiritual, that it might lead, in that moment, to contrition for one’s sins and a desire to attain to heaven?

Finally, if she received the apostolic pardon, then she would not have to be ‘purged’ of the temporal effects of sin; therefore, no ‘Purgatory.’

So, in summary: lots of assumptions here, and our answers depend on the true facts of the situation, but… the absolution may have been valid; the anointing may have led to interior conversion of heart; and one cannot assume that “she is in Purgatory.”

The practical upshot is that her family may have good reason to hope in her salvation, and should be praying for the repose of her soul!

Hope this helps!


I feel the same way as you do. There’s a trend where people are canonized before they are even laid into the ground. The disregard of Purgatory is shocking, but then again, we don’t hear anything about Purgatory from the pulpit.

Yes it is wrong to claim any of our relatives or friends are in Heaven. We can hope and pray they have been saved but we do not know. Only God knows that.

Well said - thank you, Gorgias.

There is also the beautiful paragraph in St. Faustina’s Diary, that reads:

[size=2]1698 I often attend upon the dying and through entreaties obtain for them trust in God‟s mercy, and I implore God for an abundance of divine grace, which is always victorious. God‟s mercy sometimes touches the sinner at the last moment in a wondrous and mysterious way. Outwardly, it seems as if everything were lost, but it is not so. The soul, illumined by a ray of God‟s powerful final grace, turns to God in the last moment with such a power of love that, in an instant, it receives from God forgiveness of sin and punishment, while outwardly it shows no sign either of repentance or of contrition, because souls [at that stage] no longer react to external things.

Oh, how beyond comprehension is God‟s mercy! But – horror! – there are also souls who voluntarily and consciously reject and scorn this grace! Although a person is at the point of death, the merciful God gives the soul that interior vivid moment, so that if the soul is willing, it has the possibility of returning to God. But sometimes, the obduracy in souls is so great that consciously they choose hell; they [thus] make useless all the prayers that other souls offer to God for them and even the efforts of God Himself……
At Our Lord’s request, people throughout the world implore God’s mercy for souls at their hour of death using the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. I do so especially at 3 PM, but also throughout my day as I’m driving, etc. God will extend the fruit of these prayers to these dying souls and offer them the opportunity to repent and trust in His mercy.

So we really don’t know, but it is far more likely that many will avail themselves of this precious grace and enter heaven. Isn’t it far better to say the glass is “half full” rather than “half empty?” :wink: Enough of such pessimism! God wishes to be known for His greatest attribute … Divine Mercy, and teaches us to trust in Him.

Well the way I understand it, once Catholic, always Catholic, even if there’s a
so-called “Falling Away,” and if she received last rites, we can have hope that
she was saved. We ought not to just throw around the idea “He or She is in a
better place,” applying it to just anybody, but given the factors you gave, there
can be some peace of mind for this mother’s loved ones.

I had a similar experience this past summer, one of my uncles committed suicide, but he was a very devout catholic, and went to mass every day of the week and would pray thru out the day, but he did not like to work and lived off credit cards his entire life, we found his balance on one card was close to $210K.!!! and once he could not make the monthly payments, instead of becoming homeless, he slit his wrists and throat in a hotel room, apparently he told a friend he was going to do this and why he was doing it…purely financial and he did not want to get a job…go figure??

What upset me, is they had his funeral in a catholic church, I even asked my dad about this, and he said the church has eased its views on this over the years, it still did not make sense to me and it really upset me when the priest and other lectors got up and talked about how our uncle is now with God and at peace, no longer has worldly concerns to worry about, etc. I was talking with my sisters husband afterwards and we agreed this funeral should not have been in a catholic church, and those nice things should not have been said, as he killed himself over payments he could not make and laziness out of not wanting to work…while we dont know for sure, I am fairly sure my uncle is NOT with God in heaven and if he is, then we all have mis-interpretted the bible entirely.

I think they said these things just to make others feel comfortable, namely his brothers, but they really should not have done this…especially given the circumstances of why he killed himself.

Unfortunately, many Catholics today think that everyone goes to heaven. They seem to be forgetting that there is a hell, or if they are saved, a purgatory.

Just when someone says that a passed loved one is in heaven, say that you will pray to them asking for their intercession “if” they are in heaven. This hints that not everyone goes to heaven. :thumbsup:

I understand why people say this. I don’t think it is sinful or wrong in that sense. They simply want people to be happy.
However, most people that are saved go to purgatory first. It would be better to want the person who has died to be happy. That is why Catholics pray for people in purgatory–they actually want to benefit the person who has died. It say they are in heaven is to live in a world of illusion–it is better to help them instead to heaven by praying for their soul and to have a mass said for them. We should really want to help and bless a person who has died.

Out of the loved ones whom Ive known that passed away we definitely prayed that they would be in heaven.

Suicide is not a ‘normal’ reaction to debt, nor homelessness, nor unemployment; it is possible he suffered from mental illnesses others know nothing about. It is not for the Church or parish (or us) to judge whether or not that person is deserving of a Catholic funeral; plus, the funeral is also for the living. Please give your uncle the benefit of the doubt, and show some charity.

Is purgatory completely separated from God? Wouldn’t that be h*ll?

Also, just as it is not for us to judge or say who is in heaven or hell, it’s not for us to say who** isn’t**. Is it wrong to offer consolation? Even if they were incorrect in their words or belief of their destination, those comforting the family should not be judged or admonished for doing so.

I understand that we concern ourselves with Church teachings, and what God has given/told us. I do that, too. But we are also to be compassionate.

I pray that we all have charity in our hearts, especially when loved ones have passed, or are going through difficult times. Offer your proper words of consolation, but do not be harsh in them, or in judgement of others.

The Church - tells us of those it believes are already united with Christ in Heaven … the Saints with a capital “S” … this belief is given credence via the lives they led, signs of miracles, etc … all of which gives the Church the courage and conviction to proclaim their heavenly home.

The Church does not make the same assertions of individuals being confined to heavens alternative … because only God can judge the hearts and souls of men - and the Church is content to leave what is God’s alone to that same loving just judge …

Purgatory is not so much a place … but the act of being purged of the last vestiges or stains of sin that remain on those who are destined for heaven - those who have merited salvation and heaven …nothing impure can enter into heaven …

Being human - we tend to think in terms of ‘time’ and linear time at that … however God stands outside of time … Jesus was ‘in the beginning’, ‘is now’ and ‘ever shall be’ - He is the Alpha and the Omega …

Now those little “s” saints - are they in heaven? When are they welcomed into heaven? One of life’s mysteries … Some are - some may not be yet … :shrug: And we can know that some are by the same evidence the Church uses to evaluate the lives of the great saints - their lives, their love of God and miracles - those miracles maybe small and personal - but they are real … and our Lord speaks to us in these events …

I am sure my spouse is already in heaven - and I am not afraid to say so - with assurance.

Why - well it might not mean anything to you and you would be free to accept or reject it … but I am sure our Lord gave me a sign that my spouse in heaven …

Without getting into the specifics: I had been reflecting on a story a priest had shared a decade earlier about praying for a sign that his mother was in heaven and the sign he’d received in response … he said he prayed for the sign - even as he believed and had great faith that she was indeed in heaven - no doubts - he just wanted a sign in addition to his belief she was.

My thoughts were - is it really okay to ask for a sign? What kind of a sign would/should/could I ask for? Would I recognize it for a sign? Might I mistake some explainable event for a sign? … three months I regularly had this conversation with my self … then one day a series of events occurred - and I knew it was the message that he was indeed in heaven … and I have gotten other little ‘messages’ too …

And while I hope many of my other loved ones are in heaven - I have not received that same type of assurance… However, I place my trust in God and I am sure my spouse has already arrived and is praying for me and the entire family. … While I may worry about whether I will attain that great reward [and it has heightened my sense of areas where I definitely need to work harder to avoid sin:o] … My spouse is there with those “S” Saints …

And yes - a priest was present at the time of their death - even though it was sudden and unexpected - that also was a small miracle - though truthfully at the time - my heart was breaking and and I was very distraught and wanted a different outcome … it is God’s plan …I am so grateful the priest arrived in time.

In St. Therese’s *Story of a Soul, *she wrote that she had asked God for a sign that her beloved Papa went straight to heaven. The sign she proposed was that if Celine’s entrance to Carmel was no longer opposed by the Prioress, she would know he was in heaven. This nun was not willing to have another “Martin” sister join, since she felt three was already too many. Well, little Therese got her sign! And of course, in hindsight, we know it is true, because her parents were canonized recently. It is a beautiful condescension of our God that He sometimes enables His servants to have knowledge of their loved ones after their death.

I asked for a sign when my spouse died, and three were granted to me in such a way as to remove all doubts about the authenticity of them. [God frequently speaks in threes. ;)]

However, prior to his death, we had gone shopping to Harbor Freight, a man’s haven for tools, and I waited for him in the car. While he was shopping, I had a sudden desire to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for him, and the fervor and devotion with which I prayed was very great! Well, he died three hours later, unexpectedly and without the sacraments. I believe my praying the Chaplet was the preparation for his death. St. Faustina taught us to pray it for the dying, revealing to us that God’s mercy for dying souls is very great as a result of that prayer.

I can empathize with your sudden loss - you have my prayers. Some days I fear my heart will never fully be whole again and its been over two years … and yet I am so blessed - beyond anything I could have imagined - especially in having experienced a Christ centered marriage … so many never have that life as described by Bishop Fulton Sheen - “Three to Get Married” … and we did - over two decades - best friends first - then One before God and men …

Our God is good and His ways are not our ways - I am offering a prayer of Thanksgiving for your assurances and mine … and a prayer for others to be watchful for the messages He sends to those He loves who are in the midst of grief … All the time our God is good … and He never leaves us to suffer alone - He is beside us always

Beautiful, YADA!

Our God is good and His ways are not our ways - I am offering a prayer of Thanksgiving for your assurances and mine … and a prayer for others to be watchful for the messages He sends to those He loves who are in the midst of grief … All the time our God is good … and He never leaves us to suffer alone - He is beside us always

Thank you so much. :hug1:

You are welcome … I was deeply touched by your post = so its me that should say "thank you’ … to you

Take care - and keep faith :).

Thank you for all the responses, especially thistle. You always give the answers that come straight from the churches teachings and I really appreciate that.:slight_smile:

I know I have told this story before but I will say it again. When my dad’s father died, he asked him for a sign that he was in heaven. Within a few seconds a coin dropped from seemingly nowhere and my dad felt happy and content that his father was in heaven. My dad has told this story many times and I finally said to him, how do you know the sign was from your father and not satan? Do you really think that G-d is your puppet and jumps at your command? My thoughts are this. Mother Mary said that many souls go to hell because they have no one to pray for them. If we think all of our loved ones go straight to heaven then why should we pray and make sacrifices in their name? We wouldn’t. Isn’t this exactly what satan wants? Us not to pray for the dead? I hope when I die no one assumes I am heaven and prays for me every single day!:o

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