Last week we reflected on how we as Catholics, when praying to the Saints, are simply communicating with them as members of our family of faith. When explaining this, though, a Protestant might express concern that Scripture seems to forbid communicating with the dead.
For example, when King Saul faces the Philistines in his final battle, he is afraid and seeks a medium to conjure up the spirit of the great prophet Samuel. Samuel, having been invoked, rebukes Saul saying: “why have you disturbed me?” Far from the help he desired, Samuel confirms his doom as one unfaithful to the Lord God.
Elsewhere in Scripture we encounter an instruction to the Israelites: “Let there not be found among you anyone who causes their son or daughter to pass through the fire, or practices divination, or is a soothsayer, augur, or sorcerer, or who casts spells, consults ghosts and spirits, or seeks oracles from the dead.”
Neither of these examples, however, are an adequate rebuttal to those who question our practice. Regarding the condemnation of one who “consult ghosts and spirits, or seeks oracles from the dead,” we see from the context that this pertains to one who uses magic or occult practices to gain secret knowledge or power. It is a condemnation of an attempt to obtain power apart from God or even in spite of Him.
However, in communicating with the Saints we do the exact opposite. We ask that they go to God and speak to him on our behalf. We want to do God’s will and want the Saints to pray that we have the strength and courage to do it. It is no different than what we do with our brothers and sisters in the faith here on earth. We go to both family members and friends asking they pray to God for the graces most needful to us.
What is more, if it is always wrong for a human on earth to speak with those who have died, we would have a serious problem. Why? Because Jesus did exactly that. Because Jesus did exactly that when, on the Mount of the Transfiguration, both Moses and Elijah appeared to Jesus and he conversed with them.
Therefore we see that Scripture in no way condemns communicating with the Saints. Indeed, Christ himself models such communication for us.
However, one further objection remains. Why waste time talking to the Saints when we can talk directly to God? This will be the topic of our next bulletin letter.
Praised be Jesus Christ in his Saints! Now and forever!