Necromancy -- and Praying to Dead Saints

First of all, in advance, please accept my apology if I offend anyone.

There is a scripture(s) in the Old Testament that tells us not to communicate with the dead. I can’t recall the scripture, which endlessly aggravates me. There is also the story of the “witch of Endor,” which is also in the old testament, where Saul was condemned for communicating with the dead (Samuel) e.g. necromancy or seeking/praying to the dead.

What does the magesterium (sp?) say about the “witch of Endor” necromancy scripture? Any large cut-and-pastes from the magesterium (sp?) are wholeheartedly welcomed.


I posted something really similar about a week ago, and please forgive me for not retyping but I’m pooped! :sleep:

[quote=me!]God forbids for us to SEEK OUT information of the supernatural kind. If He wants us to know, he’ll give us visions. If not, then our attempts to play God will only bring out demons who will trick us and get us into a LOT of trouble. There are countless accounts of so-called white wiccans, and pagans, etc, who don’t know that they are truly serving the devil and have REALLY scary experiences, seeing things and all of that. Dabbling in the occult gets you into a lot of trouble, and even after you convert and confess you still feel the effects.
To clarify: visions are not of this world but of the next… so just because you see something doesn’t mean it’s from Satan, it could be from God. But as I’ve heard it’s not very difficult to tell. But the main difference is that God won’t come to you through divination, because He is Lord Almighty and cannot be controlled by you in the least. The devil is described as a hungry, roaring lion prowling around looking for some poor soul to devour. Because of this, he’ll always attempt to come to you through the occult because this opens a door to him and to hell.

I hope this helps There’s lots more reading all over CAF and CA about this, just search. Also read some exoricsm accounts. You do not want to be near this stuff with a ten foot pole.

This is all referring to the dead as in those in hell. People ‘with God’ are always referred to as ‘alive’ in the scriptures… so I don’t see your point. Remember during the transfiguration when Jesus spoke with Moses and Elijah (I believe it was them). They are your definition of dead, correct? The problem is that the english language is so ambiguous that we lose words like these. And not to mention (assuming you’re protestant) the many translations. If all of us were to go learn Hebrew and Ancient Greek on the double we’d all understand scripture SOOO much better.

That’s as far as my understanding goes anyway :whistle:

**Praying for the Dead Proved from Scripture **

2 Timothy 1:16-18 (RSV)
May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiph’orus, for he often refreshed me; he was not ashamed of my chains, [17] but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me eagerly and found me – [18] may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day – and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus.

2 Timothy 4:19
Greet Prisca and Aq’uila, and the household of Onesiph’orus.

Alfred Plummer (Anglican)
Certainly the balance of probability is decidedly in favour of the view that Onesiphorus was already dead when St. Paul wrote these words. . . . he here speaks of “the house of Onesiphorus” in connexion with the present, and of Onesiphorus himself only in connexion with the past. . . . it is not easy to explain this reference in two places to the household of Onesiphorus, if he himself was still alive. In all the other cases the individual and not the household is mentioned. . . . There is also the character of the Apostle’s prayer. Why does he confine his desires respecting the requital of Onesiphorus’ kindness to the day of judgment? . . . This again is thoroughly intelligible, if Onesiphorus is already dead.

. . . there seems to be equal absence of serious reason for doubting that the words in question constitute a prayer. . . .

Having thus concluded that, according to the more probable and reasonable view, the passage before us contains a prayer offered up by the Apostle on behalf of one who is dead, we seem to have obtained his sanction, and therefore the sanction of Scripture, for using similar prayers ourselves. . . .

This passage may be quoted as reasonable evidence that the death of a person does not extinguish our right or our duty to pray for him: but it ought not be quoted as authority for such prayers on behalf of the dead as are very different in kind from the one of which we have an example here. Many other kinds of intercession for the dead may be reasonable and allowable; but this passage proves no more than that some kinds of intercession for the dead are allowable; viz., those in which we pray that God will have mercy at the day of judgment on those who have done good to us and others, during their life upon earth (Alfred Plummer (1841-1926) (Anglican): The Expositor’s Bible (edited by W. Robertson Nicoll), The Pastoral Epistles, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1891, pp. 324-326).

James Maurice Wilson (1836-1931) (Anglican)
We have, therefore, the sanction of St. Paul for remembering inn our prayers, and interceding for, those who have now passed into the other world . . . (Truths New and Old, Westminster: Archibald Constable & Co., 1900, p. 141)

Sydney Charles Gayford (Anglican)
. . . the most satisfactory explanation is that Onesiphorus was dead. . . .

And so we may hold with some confidence that we have in this passage the authority of an Apostle in praying for the welfare of the departed. (The Future State, New York: Edwin S. Gorham, second edition, 1905, pp. 56-57)

John Henry Bernard (1860-1927) (Anglican)
On the whole then it seems probable that Onesiphorus was dead when St. Paul prayed on his behalf . . . (The Pastoral Epistles, Cambridge University Press, 1899, p. 114)

Deuteronomy 18:10-11 Explained

Deuteronomy 18:10-11
10 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, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.

Sometimes Fundamentalists object to asking our fellow Christians in heaven to pray for us by declaring that God has forbidden contact with the dead in passages such as Deuteronomy 18:10–11. In fact, he has not, because he at times has given it—for example, when he had Moses and Elijah appear with Christ to the disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:3). What God has forbidden is necromantic practice of conjuring up spirits. “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. . . . For these nations, which you are about to dispossess, give heed to soothsayers and to diviners; but as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you so to do. The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brethren—him you shall heed” (Deut. 18:10–15).

God thus indicates that one is not to conjure the dead for purposes of gaining information; one is to look to God’s prophets instead. Thus one is not to hold a seance. But anyone with an ounce of common sense can discern the vast qualitative difference between holding a seance to have the dead speak through you and a son humbly saying at his mother’s grave, “Mom, please pray to Jesus for me; I’m having a real problem right now.” The difference between the two is the difference between night and day. One is an occult practice bent on getting secret information; the other is a humble request for a loved one to pray to God on one’s behalf.…the_saints.asp

Thank you for the replies. In my heart, I still don’t know the answer and if I were to say anything otherwise, then I’d be lying. As Shakespere said, “To thine own heart be true.” :eek:

Necromancy is when a person consults with spirits to determine the future or gain some knowledge from them. That is absolutely, positively NOT what praying to saints is. Praying to a saint is simply asking them to pray for you, to intercede with God on your behalf. It is us asking them to hand our prayer to God through their righteous hands. There is no asking the Blessed Virgin to tell us what is going to happen with the stock market next week. See the difference? The best example of intercessory prayer is found in the Book of Tobit, which has sadly been hacked out of many Bibles on the authority of people who came along 1500 years after the Bible was written. But if you want to read about it, you can find it in chapter 12. The angel Raphael hears the prayer of Tobit and intercedes with God on his behalf. Reformers didn’t like scriptures that supported Catholic teaching, it would seem.

Be advised that saints are not viewed as having any power to answer prayer. God is the One with the power. However, He permits, or rather, encourages the whole community to pray for each other. Why should that end when someone goes to heaven? That is precisely when their prayers are most effective, for they have been made fully righteous and the prayer of the righteous avails much. Saints in heaven plead with Jesus who is the one intercessor between man and God just as we on earth plead with Him.

Hope that helps.

Part 1: Before getting into the scriptural evidence, I will make a logical argument. Jesus said that God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. Several verses in the Bible say that we are alive in Christ. There is no death in Christ. So if you would ask a fellow christian to pray for you when he is alive, why would you not ask him after he has passed on? There is no death in Christ. He is still part of the living body of Christ. Why would you cut yourself off from the rest of the christian body for no reason? Some are fond of pointing out that Christ is the only mediator between God and man. Well yes, but he still uses people. We are, in a sense, co-workers. Did not the Lord send angels to talk to people? Why didn’t he just do it himself? More importantly, who are we to say God should act a certain way? Saints in heaven are outside of time, and are that much closer to God. If anything, their prayers would be more effective, as they can pray without ceasing. And that is precisely the catholic belief. It is important to note that catholic teaching is not to ask saints for stuff, or to worship saints. But prayer is not worship. Prayer is communication. We are not praying to the dead, we are praying to the alive in Christ, and we are not asking them for things as if they were God, we are asking them to pray for us, the same as you would if they were alive. This is logically consistent if you truly believe that the christian dead are alive in Christ. To illustrate the idea:
Scenario 1: If someone falls in love and they say:
I love you so much. I love you so much that I want to spend all my time with you. I never want to talk to your mother. I never want to see your family or friends. I want you to banish them when they come around, I just want to spend my whole life with you and love you.
That’s how I understand the Evangelical take on a relationship to Jesus.
Scenario 2: On the other hand he could say:
I love you so much. I love you so much that I want to spend my time with you. Your mom is welcome to visit our home. Your family is my family, your friends are my friends. The people you love, I will love. We are one flesh and I welcome everyone you welcome.
I think the second one sounds like a more authentic love. I think this is the Catholic approach to a relationship with Jesus, and this is why we pray to Saints. Because they are our family, and the grave doesn’t separate us. Scipture:
Matthew 17:1-3: "Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shown like the sun, and his garments became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him."
The above is also recorded in Mark and Luke, and here is something interesting. Moses and Elijah are DEAD. And Jesus is talking to them. It would seem right there that dead people in Christ are not only capable of conversing with us, but are interested in the affairs of the earth.
Matthew 27:50, 52-53:"and Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit…The tombs also were opened, and the bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his Resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many."
Appearances such as those described in the above verse lessen the artificial separation some denominations have created between Heaven and earth, which I believe is due to their obssessive fear of idolatry and all things catholic.
Hebrews 12:1: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us…"
The above verse implies that those that have gone before us are indeed watching events on earth as a great cloud of witnesses.
Revelation 1:4: "Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before the throne."
Now in the above, grace and peace are also said to come from the “seven spirits” before the throne. These seven spirits are known later as the seraphim (some argue it is the Holy Spirit, but even without this example I believe I have provided sufficient support). Since grace does not originate from angels but from God, the verse is associating angels with His ministry, so they obviously here are playing a role as intercessors, distributing God’s grace.
Revelation 5:8: "The four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints."
Revelation 8:3-4: " And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar before the throne; and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God."
In the above, our prayers are shown passing through both angels and spirits in heaven, and being presented before God. This fits in absolutely beautifully with catholic teaching, but protestants are often uncomfortable with it and find very odd ways to explain the text.
Revelation 6:9-10: "I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne; they cried out with a loud voice, ‘O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?’"
In the above verse not only do the saints appear aware of events on earth, but they are praying to God for action upon the earth. Hence, a prayer for those on earth. If they pray for us because they are alive in Christ, why should we not pray for them?
1 Corinthians 4:9: "For as I see it, God has exhibited us apostles as the last of all, like people sentenced to death, since we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and human beings alike."
In the above, it would again appear that angels and saints are watching us.
Matthew 18:10: "See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.“
This implies the catholic idea of guardian angels that not only watch over us, but report what goes on to God in heaven, implying intercession.
Acts 12:14-15
"She was so overjoyed when she recognized Peter’s voice that, instead of opening the gate, she ran in and announced that Peter was standing at the gate. [15] They told her, ‘You are out of your mind,’ but she insisted that it was so. But they kept saying, ‘It is his angel.’”

Part 2: They thought it was his angel, so obviously people in the bible believed it.
Hebrews 1:14: "Are they not all ministering spirits sent to serve, for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?"
Angels are sent to serve christians on earth.
Luke 15:10: "In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
Repentance is a matter of the heart, so it would appear angels are familiar with our thoughts.
All in all, the family of God is the body of Christ, in heaven, and on , the church fathers. Having a “God and me” mentality is never what Christ had in mind, and it strikes me as very lonely. But there is even more to this aspect of Catholicism, and I’earth. Why cut ourselves off from it? Many not only cut themselves off from a good chunk of their family in christ, but as I have already pointed out, are not even acquainted with the beliefs of their spiritual ancestorsm about to answer some very pertinent protestant objections. The question is, okay, sure, you can pray to saints, but why would you? What’s the point? I will start with some scripture here.
Isaiah 1:15: "When you spread out your hands, I close my eyes to you; though you pray the more, I will not listen, your hands are full of blood!"
In the above verse, God does not listen to the prayers of a sinful man. So the protestant may object, oh but that’s the Old Testament, that doesn’t apply anymore. We are all righteous before God. Because they believe in that legal transaction of imputed righteousness, every single christian is the exact same level of righteousness before God, because of the merits of Christ. Except that the next few verses come from the New Testament.
James 4:16: "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful."
Now why is the above verse important? Well, first off it links confession with prayer, by saying that the prayer of a righteous man is powerful. This implies that confession cleanses you somehow. Very catholic. This also implies that you can be considered “less righteous” before God’s eyes. It also talks of the necesity of having others pray for you, implying that if you are not righteous by having confessed, your brother who is more righteous before God, can pray for you.
1 Peter 3:7: "Likewise, you husbands should live with your wives in understanding, showing honor to the weaker female sex, since we are joint heirs of the gift of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered."
The above verse is stating plainly that poor conduct hinders your prayer, as does James. This validates what is spoken by Isaiah and also in Proverbs, where David speaks of God answering the righteous. This all goes to show that there ARE levels of righteousness, and just admitting that in itself is against protestant belief.
Okay, but what’s the point in showing all this? Well, saints are people that made it into heaven. They are perfected. They are holy, in the presence of God. They are MORE RIGHTEOUS THAN US. So if you are failing as a good christian, failing to be righteous, and God will not hear your prayers, you ask a righteous saint to pray on your behalf. This simply makes perfect sense. God listens to righteous people. Perhaps due to sin, He is not hearing your prayers. So you ask a righteous man to pray for you, because God will hear him. This is why we pray to saints. We can’t do this alone, and indeed we should not. It is is actually ARROGANT to assume that we are righteous simply because of our faith in Christ and not on our example (from grace) as well. Even the demons believe, and shudder, as it states in the New Testament. Protestants also like to say that Jesus is the one mediator between God and man. Oh yes this is quite true. Now look at the CONTEXT. The context is, Jesus is the mediator for salvation. We do not claim that salvation comes from Mary or the saints. But their prayer is scriptural, as is our prayer with them, and it is effective because they are righteous. To deny otherwise is to cherrypick the Bible.
Clement of Alexandria: “In this way is he [the true Christian] always pure for prayer. He also prays in the society of angels, as being already of angelic rank, and he is never out of their holy keeping; and though he pray alone, he has the choir of the saints standing with him [in prayer]” (Miscellanies 7:12 [A.D. 208]).
Origen: “But not the high priest [Christ] alone prays for those who pray sincerely, but also the angels . . . as also the souls of the saints who have already fallen asleep” (Prayer 11 [A.D. 233]).
Cyprian of Carthage: “Let us remember one another in concord and unanimity. Let us on both sides [of death] always pray for one another. Let us relieve burdens and afflictions by mutual love, that if one of us, by the swiftness of divine condescension, shall go hence the first, our love may continue in the presence of the Lord, and our prayers for our brethren and sisters not cease in the presence of the Father’s mercy” (Letters 56[60]:5 [A.D. 253]).
Anonymous: “Atticus, sleep in peace, secure in your safety, and pray anxiously for our sins” (funerary inscription near St. Sabina’s in Rome [A.D. 300]).

Yes, this. Necromancy is not just about praying, but trying to influence the dead to act somehow. It involves an attempt at a kind of reversal of nature.

So, it would include things like attempting to contact dead spirits and communicate directly with them, say through a medium. Of course if a dead spirit appeared to you unbidden that wouldn’t be necromancy either, it is the will to control and act against nature that is the crux of necromancy.

Please excuse the strange thoughts of a Christian in the following:

When I pray the Rosary, I don’t know that I’m actually praying to Mary. Instead, I’m simply saying by rote what I learned in my youth e.g. “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blest art thou amongst women and blest is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us now – and at the hour of our death.” Yes, I inwardly pray it, but am I actually talking to a dead person? Am I actually expecting her to pray for me to God? Ahhhhh, hence, now you know why I preceded this post with “Please excuse the strange thoughts of a Christian!” You obviously don’t have the answer to this; I’m simply sharing thoughts out-loud. :eek:

I know that the dead are conscious after death, either in heaven or in hell. Purgatory is another issue; maybe it’s a sub-compartment of God’s heavenly realm; I don’t know.

It comforts me to think that my grandmother might be able to hear my love towards her – and my prayers. She was a Church of Christ protestant, while my grandfather rejected Jesus and regularly used His name in vain e.g. GD this and GD that et al. My childhood Catholic training came from the other side of the family. :eek:

So do we actually talk (pray) to a dead person that we hope is in heaven? How can we be assured that they ARE in heaven? Other than the Hail Mary, I feel very uncomfortable talking to a dead person because I don’t know that they’re actually in heaven, although I’m 100% certain that my grandma is in heaven; but I have no proof.

Sorry for babbling. :harp:

Yes. You are actually talking to a heavenly saint. The book of Revelation shows the heavenly Saints presenting the prayers of the saints on earth to God.

Revelation 4.4: Surrounding the throne were twenty four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads.
Revelation 5.8: …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.

The body of Christ is not divided, even between its members in heaven and on earth.

As far as knowing whether someone is in heaven or not, this is where the process of canonization comes in. Canonization is a process by which the Church confirms that a certain Christian is in the direct presence of God in heaven. Not only is the life of the “dead” person examined, the Church also requires that demonstrable miracles have occurred directly through the intercession of that individual while in the presence of God. That is why prayer is only encouraged to canonized Saints.

So you’re saying that we ONLY pray to canonized saints and NOT to our dead loved ones that we believe are in heaven?

I know that Mary is canonized, but I dunno if I could ever recite a prayer to any other dead person who has already passed into the portal of glory. If the Lord opens my mind to it, then of course, I’ll be open to it.

Thank you kindly for your charity.

There is no ban on asking someone who you think may be in heaven to pray for you - otherwise there would be no new canonizations. But we are only encouraged to pray to canonized saints and the beatified.

We are asking the Saints to pray for us. We can ask a dead love one to pray for us, but usually we pray for the soul of our departed friends and family.

We can also ask Mary (and the Saints) to pray with us for the living and the dead.

God Bless you:)

I’m curious to know whose definition of necromancy you are using, do you have a source? I’ve checked several sources, biblical and secular, and none of them match what you are saying. Even the roots of the word do not seem to support your statement-- necro means dead, mancy means prophecy or divination. Every site and source I found says that necromancy is a form of divination used to summon the dead and communicate with them, very typically to seek information from them. I think it is quite a leap to conclude that this is the same as saying a prayer for intercession. We do not wish to communicate with the dead in the manner of necromancy. We are not asking to hear from a saint at all. This would seem to be at odds with the very root (prophecy) of the word.

All intercessory prayers are said with the knowledge that only God has the power to answer them. Therefore, if there is to be a ‘reversal of nature’ as a result of intercessory prayer, then it is God-willed and cannot possibly be considered evil.

The key difference between necromancy and petitioning the saints with our prayers is this:

Necromancy = the “necromancer” expects to hear back and have dialogue with the dead; this is their intent.

Prayer to the saints = we petition the saints and they pray with us in union to Christ; we don’t actually expect to hear back and have dialogue with them (the communion of saints).

Saints are not dead. If you don’t believe that, then Christianity is of no real value beyond providing somewhat of a Judeo-Christian code of morality.

The bible uses the term “dead” or “sleep” to describe people who have gone on to either heaven or to Hades. The dead are still alive, but they are still dead to the mortal world that we still live in i.e. they aren’t walking around here on Earth and having visible and daily discourse with us.

I acknowledge you.

You believe that to be alive in Christ is to be dead to us on Earth? We serve a risen Savior, and those who remain in Him, live in Him and reign with Him. Do you let your theology revolve around what words are used to describe things in the Bible or around the promises of Christ?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit