Rome’s Doctrine of Prayer to the Dead
According to Rome, those who go straight to heaven when they die, and are “saints”, are declared to be able to intercede with God on behalf of living Roman Catholics down on earth! Roman Catholics, if they pray to the “saint”, will have the blessing of the “saint” going and interceding with God on their behalf for whatever they prayed for!
Here is the precise Popish teaching, according to its definitive Council of Trent: “the saints, who reign together with Christ, offer up their own prayers to God for men… it is good and useful suppliantly to invoke them, and to have recourse to their prayers, aid and help for obtaining benefits from God”. And again, this time from the authoritative documents of the Second Vatican Council: “For after they have been received into their heavenly home and are present to the Lord, through Him and with Him and in Him, they do not cease to intercede with the Father for us.” And: “The Church…has devoutly implored the aid of their intercession.”
This too is utterly without foundation in the Word of God. Nowhere in all of Scripture are we taught to pray to dead people! Prayer is to be directed to God alone, for only He can hear it, only He can answer it, and only He must be worshipped – and prayer is a part of worship. We are to pray to the Father in the Name of the Son (Jn. 14:13,14; 16:23,24). No other prayer whatsoever is acceptable; in fact, it is very sinful. If those human beings now in heaven really could hear the prayers of all who were praying to them from all over the earth, this would mean they would have the powers of divinity! They would be gods! The true saints are in heaven, but they are not gods: they cannot hear or answer prayer. The Lord Jesus Christ is the only Mediator between God and men (1 Tim. 2:5).
Rome teaches that the “saints” in heaven can intercede with God on behalf of Papists on earth, and that Papists can and should invoke them. But there’s a problem. How are Romanists to know who are “saints” in heaven and who are not? After all, when a person dies, no one can see where the soul goes. What if they are praying to one who is not in heaven but only in purgatory, and thus unable to answer them? Ah, but help is at hand: the Popish hierarchy claims the power to solve the problem! There is a way (so it is claimed) whereby it can be discovered who is a “saint” and who is not. The Papacy can declare it!
The Roman Catholic institution’s first step towards canonising a dead person is to declare him or her to be “Venerable”. This is done after an examination of the deceased’s life, etc. Being declared “Venerable” means the person is declared to be “heroic” in virtue, because he supposedly exhibited what are referred to by Rome as the “Seven Virtues” (a human invention and the opposite of that other invention of Rome, the so-called “Seven Deadly Sins”). These virtues are said to be prudence, justice, restraint or temperance, courage or fortitude, faith, hope, and charity or love – all of which must have been possessed to a heroic degree while the person was alive on earth.
Then comes the next stage: beatification. This is what John Paul II has now been declared to be – beatified. The one who had previously been referred to as “Venerable” is now referred to as “Blessed”. But what does it mean and how does one get to be declared “Blessed”? Well, for one thing, “The proclamation of a Saint or of a Blessed by the Church is the fruit of putting together various aspects regarding a specific Person…. the sine qua non condition is the holiness of the person’s life, verified during the precise and formal canonical proceedings.” And then, for another thing, it must be proved that some miracle has been attributed to the dead person’s intercession with God! And who is to authoritatively pronounce that the “miracle” is genuine? You guessed it, the Papacy itself. It’s a stacked deck.
But here the poor deluded Papist is presented with a problem. Until the Papacy finally and authoritatively declares the dead one to be “Blessed” and therefore capable of hearing prayers from Papists here below and interceding with them in heaven to God, how can anyone be 100% sure that the dead person really is in heaven, and really is able to intercede with God for them? They thus pray to one who, for all they know, could still be in purgatory, and thus unable to answer any prayers – but when their prayer is supposedly answered, this is taken as proof that the dead person is in fact “Blessed” and answering prayer! Doesn’t your head start to swim? This is truly a classic circular argument. Rome can’t declare the person “Blessed” until a miracle is attributed to that person’s intercession for someone on earth, and yet the one on earth who’s invoking the dead person can’t be sure the dead person can even hear his prayers until he is declared “Blessed” by Rome!
How devastatingly tragic, that all these millions of faithful Roman Catholics are going through this convoluted, complicated, unscriptural, heathenish rigmarole in the fervent hope that by invoking some “saint” their prayer will be answered (or at least one they hope is in heaven and therefore a “saint”), when the Lord Jesus Christ said to His true followers, “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you” (Jn. 16:23). How simple, and how sublime! Prayer to God the Father in the Name of God the Son. For He is the one and only Mediator between God and men (1 Tim. 2:5), and no sinful, dead human being can intercede with the Father for those alive on earth! To teach otherwise is blasphemous.