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James wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • As a Catholic, can you pray to your dead relatives and ask them to pray for you?


  { As a Catholic, can you pray to your dead relatives and ask them to pray for you? }

John replied:

Hi, James —

You can pray FOR the dead and ask the dead to pray for you.

I'd be careful with the expression "praying to" which many Catholics sloppily use. When we say we are "praying to" we mean we are asking them for prayers.

Since the word "pray" means to ask, it is correct to do this but it is confusing. Many people think of prayer as a form of worship so when we say we pray to the dead or the saints, it sounds as though we are worshiping them instead of asking for their prayers.

We pray for the dead, because we believe that God continues to purify the (saved) dead, after death.

This doesn't mean they get a second chance to accept Christ after death. It means that those who die in the friendship with God, are not always fully sanctified by the time the die. Hence, God finishes that work after death. So we pray for them — just as we do for the living.


James replied:



A relative of mine wanted me to pray for their parents.


Mike replied:

Hi, James —

I just wanted to add to what my colleague has said. Another area of confusion can arise when using the phrase "praying for the dead". We say this with an earthly, not heavenly, mind set because we are still on our earthly journey, part of the Church Militant. In reality, the dead are NOT dead. They are more alive then any one on earth whether their self-love is being burned off in Purgatory or they are in Heaven. Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life."

You said:

  • As a Catholic, can you pray to your dead relatives and ask them to pray for you?

Yes! Although there is no reason a people who dies with absolutely no self-love can't go straight to Heaven, it is very hard for many. This is exactly one of the reasons I started my other web site dedicated to praying for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.

I work on this apostolate with a different colleague, Brian Bagley. Our goal is to have Purgatory Prayer Programs started in all fifty states. Our mottos:

God's Guest of tomorrow!
Heaven can't wait!

Just e-mail us the small amount of required information and we will sent you our FREE start-up Purgatory Prayer Program.


Hope this helps,


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