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Friday, October 21, 2005
Are Saints Alive?

As Christians we have the great gifts of saints, those already in Heaven, because their prayers certainly can do nothing other than good.

One common question I hear is: "Are saints alive?"

First, God is the God of the living. As Matthew 22:32 says: " 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.'" Our souls never die or "sleep" but after death we are judged. Those that enter Heaven live in joy forever. These are saints. Also, when Moses and Elijah appeared at Jesus' transfiguration, were they not alive in God or where those simply manifestations that Jesus called forth? It's clear they were alive.

After a whole chapter describing the ancient people of faith in Hebrews 11, Hebrews 12:1 goes on to say, "Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses..." What possible interpretation can anyone give but that those who have died are aware of us and are watching us? The saints in Heaven continuously intercede for mankind (CCC 956).

From the CCC:

956 The intercession of the saints. "Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness. . . . They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus . . . . So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped."495

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.496

I want to spend my heaven in doing good on earth.497

957 Communion with the saints. "It is not merely by the title of example that we cherish the memory of those in heaven; we seek, rather, that by this devotion to the exercise of fraternal charity the union of the whole Church in the Spirit may be strengthened. Exactly as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself"498:

We worship Christ as God's Son; we love the martyrs as the Lord's disciples and imitators, and rightly so because of their matchless devotion towards their king and master. May we also be their companions and fellow disciples!499

958 Communion with the dead. "In full consciousness of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the Church in its pilgrim members, from the very earliest days of the Christian religion, has honored with great respect the memory of the dead; and 'because it is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins' she offers her suffrages for them."500 Our prayer for them is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us effective.

959 In the one family of God. "For if we continue to love one another and to join in praising the Most Holy Trinity - all of us who are sons of God and form one family in Christ - we will be faithful to the deepest vocation of the Church."501

495 LG 49; cf. 1 Tim 2:5.
496 St. Dominic, dying, to his brothers.
497 St. Thérèse of Lisieux, The Final Conversations, tr. John Clarke (Washington: ICS, 1977), 102.
498 LG 50; cf. Eph 4:1-6.
499 Martyrium Polycarpi, 17:Apostolic Fathers II/3,396.
500 LG 50; cf. 2 Macc 12:45.
501 LG 51; cf. Heb 3:6.

Some also claim that praying the presence of statues of saints is wrong, but God commanded the people in the Old Testament to create icons when he told them to make gold statues of angels in Exodus 25. We just pray in their presence to remind us of them as we would look at a photograph of someone. Believe me, I do not and will never pray to a statue! Look to Numbers 21:8 and 1 Kings 6:18


del_button October 22, 2005 at 6:33 AM
marie said...

I recall it was St. Therese to paraphrase that she would do more work in Heaven than on earth.

I think the little flower got it right, St. Therese a most powerful Saint of the Church.

I loved this piece...

Peace of Christ to you:)


del_button October 22, 2005 at 3:36 PM
Hector said...

The term "alive" doesn't seem to fit life in heaven since it lands on me as such a physical attribute. However, I just looked the definition and part of it is continued existence and also being responsive. I ofen feel as if I'm in union with the saints, who help me and guide me. I'm so happy to be able to be in communion with the saints.

del_button October 23, 2005 at 9:44 PM
Audrey said...

I forgot who told me this (I attended a lot of seminars and talks), but I find this really meaningful and all of us Christians should think about it.

'Only Saints can meet God in His Kingdom. Don't you want to become a saint? If you want to enter Heaven, then be a saint.'

del_button October 16, 2006 at 4:38 PM
will-o said...

Scripture tells us very early on what happens at death. Adam was told by God that if he disobeyed the commandment he had received, he would die. He did disobey, and this is the judgement which was pronounced upon him:

" the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return" (3:19).

The record is devastatingly simple: death is not a door opening to a new life--it is a judgement for disobedience, one which we all must suffer. Man returns to the ground. So in the Genesis record of the Flood, when "the earth was corrupt before God and filled with violence...for all flesh had corrupted his (God's) way upon the earth" (6:11-1 2), the waters of judgement came, and men and animals perished in the same way:

"All flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, of cattle, of beast...and every man; all in whose nostrils was the breath of life...died" (7:21-22).

The Bible frequently compares the nature of man to that of the animals. The Psalmist declares, speaking of both:

"Thou (God) takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust" (104:29).

The writer of Ecclesiastes is quite categorical: he desires men to see "that they themselves are beasts. For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath...All go unto one place: all are of the dust and all turn to dust again" (3:19-21).

Men and animals have by nature the same fate: they all return to the ground. Some may object that the next verse gives a different sense, but all modern versions put it thus: "Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes downward to the earth?" (v.22).

That is, who can tell whether there is any difference? Incidentally, the word translated "spirit" here is the very same as is rendered "breath" in v.1 9; which shows that "spirit" here is the life resulting from breathing. It ceases when breathing stops.

So the "soul" can die. "He (God) spared not their soul from death"; and then immediately: "and gave their life over to the pestilence" (Psalm 78:50), showing that the soul and the life are the same thing.

Twice God declares through Ezekiel: "The soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezek. 18:3,20).

The soul then, is the person, the living being. When he perishes, the soul, or life, perishes with him.

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