Presumption in praying to a saint before he is canonized

In order for a person to be canonized, miracles must be attributed to him, meaning somebody must have been praying for his intercession. But if that person was not yet canonized, would those prayers have been presumptuous? I’m not trying to be legalistic here, but at what point are we “allowed” to ask the deceased to pray for us?

I would like to ask my grandfather for his prayers, but he will never be canonized. I have great confidence that he is in purgatory or heaven. Should I say, “Grandfather, if you are in heaven, please pray for me?” for the rest of my life, or should I just go ahead and pray just like those people prayed to Saint John Paul II before he was canonized?

I ask all of this in light of the trend in “canonizing” the deceased at each funeral.

Jesus told us that “God is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

Consequently, there is no problem at all in talking to someone who has died but is alive in Christ, and we don’t have to wait until canonization.

I do understand this–but are we being presumptuous in deciding who is alive in Christ [after they are dead]?

I would say we are being hopeful - that our deceased relatives are preparing a place for us at the Lord’s table.

First, the way you asked the question, the answer is “yes.” We should never be declaring that someone is in heaven (unless your name starts with “Pope…” :))

But as to what you’re asking in the thread: It’s not presumptuous at all. Whether the deceased are in heaven or in purgatory they still pray for us.

Remember also that while we do not decide on our own who has entered Heaven, it also means that we don’t presume that someone has not done so. What I mean by that is that we can pray to John Paul II (I’m writing now about before he was canonized) for his intercession, but the fact that he is a deceased pope doesn’t mean that it’s “more right” to pray to him and somehow inappropriate to pray for the intercession of someone less famous.

When we pray to a possible saint, we need not be making any kind of declarations. It’s not that we have to say, or even think, “if you’re in heaven, I’m praying to you, but if you’re in purgatory, I’m not…” Granted, as the cause of canonization progresses, there are stages, so it’s appropriate for us to move to more liturgical or communal prayers as the person is declared Venerable or Blessed----but that comes later.

It’s perfectly appropriate for us to simply ask for the prayers of the deceased and leave the rest in God’s hands. If a miracle does indeed result, that changes things (contact the bishop!).

I like to remind people, if we did not pray to uncanonized saints, we would never have any canonized ones! :smiley:

Pax Christi!

We can certainly pray to the beatified (“Blesseds”), such as Bl. Alan de la Roche. The canonized are beatified before placed on the canon. And declared Servants of God, first.

All can be invoked for intercession.

As far as invoking someone who is none of the above, such as my “saintly” aunt, I’m not sure. I know prayer is never wasted, but what if she’s got time in Purgatory to serve? Does the prayer aid the Poor Soul, or is it placed “on hold”, so to speak, until the purgation process is complete?

God bless.

It would not seem to be presumption at all. Since traditionally one miracle is required before someone is even declared “Blessed,” by definition someone - or many - have prayed to the “pre-blessed” person for help before such miracle has taken place.

We are allowed, even encouraged, to pray to and for anyone who has died in the faith, even if we’re pretty sure they’re still in purgatory. They can still pray for us and God hears them, so asking them to do so is very much OK. I’m sure your grandfather would love nothing more than to help you in any way he can.

I’m going against the tide here, but I’d suggest to pray for his soul rather than TO him as you really cannot know where he is. God will apply your prayers to someone else if he is already in Heaven.

Given that most people die who die in a State of Grace still have venial sins on their souls, it is fairly likely that most of the dead go to Purgatory, at least for a while. Saints who had visions of Purgatory claim that souls there go through lots of pain - infintely more than those who suffer here on earth.

Therefore, even though I am sure that your granddad led a saintly life, I’d pray for his soul at every available moment just to relieve him from the pains he is suffering if he is in Purgatory. That will please him more than anything, methinks. Plus, he will still pray a great deal for you in Purgatory (if he is there!) as you are giving him great relief from his sufferings by offering up prayers/Masses etc for him.

Well, I couldn’t help it, but I prayed to both Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Pope John Paul II immediately after they died … It was like a reflex action. I was trying to pray for their souls, but ended up addressing each one as a “Saint” instead. At least now with John Paul II it’s official, and Mother Teresa is called a “Blessed”. :slight_smile:

That’s fine. The souls in Purgatory can and do still offer their own prayers for us.

It’s not an either-or but a both-and.

We pray both for the dead, and to the dead, asking for their intercession. Only when they are canonized saints do we stop praying for them.

You do bring up a good point, and an important reminder: we still pray for the dead. That’s a must.

Before my son’s emergency surgery last year, when I was waaaaaaaaaaaaay away from the Church, I prayed for him, asking my Catholic and non-Catholic relatives in Heaven to join me in prayer. I visualized them and asked them to pray for my son. It was a life changing moment, quite honestly. I won’t share the details, as it was a private moment (not necessarily a revelation, but it was for me). It was the beginning of my return to God and the Church.

I had no facts that my relatives were in Heaven. In fact, I didn’t ask all of them, but the ones who lived exemplary lives on earth, and/or had great sufferings in the midst of their lives but never lost their Faith. They might not ever be anyone else’s saints, but they are God’s, and I like to think that they are mine, too.

The souls in Purgatory are very happy to pray for us. Believing in the Communion of the Saints means believing that the dead in Christ are not separated from us, but are joined with us through Christ.

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