In today’s second reading we find that there is a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Reading Hebrews 11, the previous chapter of today’s reading, tells us that these witnesses are the Old Testament saints.
These ‘dead’ saints who are alive in Christ are aware of what’s happening to us. Here are few verses to show this awareness of those in heaven of what is happening here on Earth.
Heb 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
Mt 17:3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
(If Jesus didn’t want any contact between saints on earth and saints in heaven, why did our Lord make a special point of appearing to Peter, James, and John on the Mount of Transfiguration in the company of Moses and Elijah, two ‘dead’ saints? (Patrick Madrid))
Rev 6:9-10 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?
Luke 15:10 …There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents.
We have just learned that the ‘dead saints’ are indeed aware of earthly doings, but can they do anything about it? Are there intercessory prayers effective? Of course there are. Prayers of the righteous availeth much (Jas 5:16). Who are more righteous than those who have been made perfect (Mat 5:48) and in heaven?
I feel I must make clear that Jesus alone is our mediator, John Henry Cardinal Newman pointed out:
The Catholic Church allows no…Saint, not even the Blessed Virgin herself, to come between the soul and its Creator…The devotions then to angels and saints as little interfered with the incommunicable glory of the Eternal, as the love which we bear our friends and relations, our tender human sympathies, are inconsistent with that supreme homage of the heart to the Unseen. (Newman, Apologia Pro Vita Sua, p.284-285)
We can therefore see that asking saints to pray for us (whether they are ‘living’ or ‘dead’) is acceptable, approved by God, and avails much.
[Text adapted from http://www.catholicapologetics.org/ap070100.htm ]