FishEaters Traditional Catholic Forums

Full Version: Praying for the Salvation of the Deceased (According To Padre Pio)
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
There is a theological problem which has preoccupied me for quite a while. According to Catholic Teaching, individual judgement takes place immediately after death. If a soul is damned, there is no way she will ever get out of hell again. So, when praying for the deceased, it seems that we cannot pray for their salvation – because judgement has already taken place –  but can only pray for either the release of this person from purgatory or the alleviation of their sufferings.

But to be honest, whenever I pray for a deceased person, especially if it is a person whose salvation seemed to be endangered…let’s say a family member who was atheist and committed suicide…my heart urges me to pray for their salvation, and not just for the mitigation of their punishments.   
This dilemma even tempted me to flirt with semi-heretical ideas like a finite hell or Universalism…but those theories are at odds with Catholic Tradition, and dont’t even solve the problem (in the first case, prayer wouldn’t matter because the person cannot be saved, in the latter case, prayer doesn’t matter because she is already saved).

However, some time ago I stumbled upon a dialogue between Padre Pio and a physician (in a book from Fr. Alessio Parente – my translation from German), which solved the dilemma:

Padre Pio:  “Don’t you know that I can still pray for the good death of my great-grandfather?”

Physician: “But how can this be? He must have died long ago!”

Padre Pio: ”I know. But I can nonetheless pray that he might have a good death. (…) For God there is no past or future . Everything is eternal present. And since for Him everything is present - to express it in our human, temporal language – he already considered those prayers of us. Therefore, I repeat, you can still pray for the good death of your already deceased great-grandfather!”

 
So, to apply it to the dilemma: In the case of our deceased, atheist family member, we cannot pray for the release from hell or a change of God’s judgement….but our prayers could still give those people the necessary grace to accept God in their last moment on earth.

What do you think...is this theory in accordance with Catholic Teaching?
I can’t say that makes any sense to me.  But I’m a layperson, more or less just beginning to acquire true wisdom and knowledge.

To me, your death occurs “in time”, not in eternity.  

Let’s take Voltaire for instance.  He was certainly a major critic of the Church, and I understand it’s the case that he died without the Sacraments, and outside the Church. Can that reality be retroactively changed by our prayers?  If that’s true, it’s certainly news to me.

If that’s true, does it extend to other events in time?  Could we pray for World War 2 to have not happened?  I suspect there’s a serious falsehood and error here.
I don't know the answer and since I actually have people in my family who died under these conditions, I would like to know the answer.
.
I have always assumed that I don't know that they are in Hell, so I can pray that they may someday go to Heaven.
Since we are never certain of one's final end, until we have reached our own, we may always assume that they are in Purgatory and therefore pray for them. 

The question you are asking unnecessarily complicates this. The phrase used by Our Lord is instructive: the hour of death. The hour is, indeed, a temporal moment. We are corporate entities; we live in time and die in time. God, however, is outside of time and therefore hears our prayers from eternity; He can, therefore, hear all of the prayers which have been made, which are made, and will be made. Thus, we can pray that a man have a good death even when he has already died temporally. The caveat is that we will only know if our wish was granted when we come to know the entire natural order in Heaven. Furthermore, our prayers to give a man a good death will not impugn on that man's free will: God may give him the grace to desire a good death, but it is up to him whether or not to cooperate.

Basically, you will not change the physical and temporal outcome of what happened, but your charity for that man may have, from all Eternity, had an effect on him before he died. Nevertheless, once the man has died, he is judged and his judgement will be final and eternal and will not change based on your desire for it to be so.
Thank you, Ryan. You said what I would have, and much better.
(01-27-2019, 10:13 AM)FultonFan Wrote: [ -> ]I can’t say that makes any sense to me.  But I’m a layperson, more or less just beginning to acquire true wisdom and knowledge.

To me, your death occurs “in time”, not in eternity.  

Let’s take Voltaire for instance.  He was certainly a major critic of the Church, and I understand it’s the case that he died without the Sacraments, and outside the Church. Can that reality be retroactively changed by our prayers?  If that’s true, it’s certainly news to me.

If that’s true, does it extend to other events in time?  Could we pray for World War 2 to have not happened?  I suspect there’s a serious falsehood and error here.

For the sake of argument, if we can pray that World War 2 never happened, and God granted that request, none of us would ever have any knowledge of World War 2 taking place.  If God can make what has happened unhappen, I imagine it would be impossible for anyone in this world to have an awareness of the change taking place.
(01-28-2019, 02:55 PM)Melkite Wrote: [ -> ]
(01-27-2019, 10:13 AM)FultonFan Wrote: [ -> ]I can’t say that makes any sense to me.  But I’m a layperson, more or less just beginning to acquire true wisdom and knowledge.

To me, your death occurs “in time”, not in eternity.  

Let’s take Voltaire for instance.  He was certainly a major critic of the Church, and I understand it’s the case that he died without the Sacraments, and outside the Church. Can that reality be retroactively changed by our prayers?  If that’s true, it’s certainly news to me.

If that’s true, does it extend to other events in time?  Could we pray for World War 2 to have not happened?  I suspect there’s a serious falsehood and error here.

For the sake of argument, if we can pray that World War 2 never happened, and God granted that request, none of us would ever have any knowledge of World War 2 taking place.  If God can make what has happened unhappen, I imagine it would be impossible for anyone in this world to have an awareness of the change taking place.

I guess it'd be pretty difficult for all of those people who died to suddenly appear one day. I think in this case it has more to do with certain events that only occur because of some graces merited through someone's future actions. For example, a person who had a death bed conversion, maybe this only occurred because of graces granted by someone's prayers, sacrifices, Masses offered in the future or maybe someone prays a perfect act of contrition at the time of their death because of some Masses offered for them some time in the future. That's the idea here. Personally, the whole idea of time when it comes to theological discussions is very confusing to me, so I'll just go based on the fact that we can pray for the dead and whatever benefits that brings to those deceased I'll leave to God.