God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes;
Paul's letters clarify how the Apostolic Church under the influence of the Holy Spirit spoke of believers as "saints," whether living or dead.
Paul asked the saints to pray for him and to imitate him.
Faithful people in the Post-Apostolic Church in the Apostles Creed defined the confessional response to faith in their creed: "We believe in the communion of saints."
Through Baptism we pass "from death to life; death no longer has dominion over us." Christians must believe that there is no real distinction between the believer in human life and after human life. Saints, living or dead, are indistinguishable before God.
If we can pray for and with saints in this life, we can pray for and with those saints after human life.
And as Paul asked saints to imitate him as he imitates Christ, the Church encourages Catholic Christians to imitate the holiness of the saints as they imitated the holiness of Christ and the Father.
As a hem of a garment, the shadows of saints, and clothes of the saints were used devotionally in the Apostolic Church, so relics and images of the saints are devotionally encouraged by the Church today.
First among saints by the fullness of grace which was hers is the Mother of Jesus, Mary.
A Biblical Portrait of Saint
The word in the Bible for "saint" or "saints" is the word (hagios) also translated "sanctified" or "holy ones." The root word hazo, means "to venerate." Hagios means to be separated from sin and therefore consecrated to God.
Hagios is used of God (Lk 1:49; Acts 3:14; Mt 1:18, etc.). It is a word used of men and things (1 Tim 1:9; 1 Pet 2:5,9, etc.)
When Paul uses the word "saint" in the singular, he refers to a state into which God calls men with His grace.
In its plural form, Paul uses the word to refer to all believers. For Paul, the word is not applied only to persons of exceptional holiness, nor to those having died characterized by an exceptional life of saintliness.
It is Paul who calls all his fellow believers "saints," and not just the notably holy ones. Paul also uses the term for both those who are living and for those who are dead.
This practice of Paul corresponds to one of the earliest creedal statements of Christian faith: The Apostles Creed: "I believe in the communion of saints." Communion of saints refers to the bond of unity among all believers, both living and dead, who are or have been committed followers of Jesus Christ. In the eyes of God, in eternity, the distinction between His People who are "living" or who are "dead" is not at all important.
Reprinted from: Catholic Biblical Apologetics Website
Dialogue with the dead
is feasible, Vatican spokesman says
ROME – One of the most authoritative spokesmen of the Roman Catholic Church has raised eyebrows among the faithful by declaring that the Church believes in the feasibility of communication with the dead. The Rev. Gino Concetti, chief theological commentator for the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, denied he was signaling any change in approach. But he agreed that his remarks might come as a jolt to many believers. He said the Church remained opposed to the raising of spirits, but added: "Communication is possible between those who live on this earth and those who live in a state of eternal repose, in heaven or purgatory. It may even be that God lets our loved ones send us messages to guide us at certain moments in our life. "His comments were first made in support of an American theologian, the Rev. John Neuhaus. Neuhaus had described how a friend had seen a ghost. He said there were various explanations, but "the important thing is not to deny such things a priority." Concetti said the key to the Church’s attitude was the Roman Catholic belief in a "Communion of Saints," which included Christians on earth as well as those in the after-life. "Where there is communion, there is communication," he said. Concetti suggested dead relatives could be responsible for prompting impulses and triggering inspiration - and even for "sensory manifestations," such as appearances in dreams. Concetti said the new Catholic catechism specifically endorsed the view that the dead could intercede on earth and quotes the dying St. Dominic telling his brothers: "Do not weep, for I shall be more useful to you after my death and I shall help you then more effectively than during my life."
This article was published by the London Observer Service and was written by John Hooper.
Notes from Barb:
On the Communion of the Saints -- Nicene Creed, which many denominations (not just Catholic) use as a regular prayer feature. I looked up about the Mass for the Dead in a book I have of questions about Catholicism, and found something interesting. The question was asked as to why do a Mass for those who are dead? Part of the answer was this: First, as all prayer, the intention may be to ask God's blessing and grace on that person during his or her life. Strange as it sounds, we know that God is not bound by the limits of time. Past, present and future are all Now to Him. And we can put ourselves in that sphere of reference of eternity in our prayers. The church in fact does this all the time; in the funeral liturgy, for example, and in some anniversary liturgies years after the individual is deceased, the prayers ask God to give that individual the blessing of a holy and peaceful death. The way I understand this...means that the prayers in later years can change the type of death a person had
The long Christian tradition of praying to the saints is simply another facet of our request for prayers from each other. We know that as God's family we can approach Him together to strengthen our own faith and increase our desire for the good things that God can give to us.
Our belief in the "communion of saints" which we profess every Sunday in the Nicene Creed, simply means that the union of faith and love which the family of Christ enjoys goes beyond the limits of death. The saints, including our own relatives and friends who have died and are with God, are united with us in some mysterious way by God's providence. Since they are with God it is only natural, and profoundly Christian, that we ask their help and prayers for anything important to us, just as we ask the help and prayers of the people who are still with us on earth.
I have a Catholic missal, which contains the text of the various Masses. Without going through all of them to check each one, I did notice that it looks like all or most contain a section where the dead are acknowledged and prayed for, such as in this portion of a Nuptial (wedding) Mass:
Remember also, O Lord, Your servants and handmaids, (name) and (name), who have gone before us with the sign of faith and rest in the sleep of peace. To these, O Lord, and to all who rest in Christ, we beseech You to grant of Your goodness, a place of comfort, light and peace.
I think in the "name" places, they put names of anyone in the parish who has recently passed on, but if there is no one, families can request to
have the names of their loved ones said. I am reminded while looking through the missal, that in Catholic worship,
nearly all that is said is directly from Scripture. Pretty neat!