Do you have anyone in your life who you were convinced was a saint, even though they weren’t officially declared a saint by the Catholic Church? Can we ask that super holy priest, nun, grandparent, or friend to pray for us after they have died?
“It’s really interesting how most of us have no problem asking somebody else to pray for us—a living person, a friend or a relative or coworker—but when it comes to someone who has passed on, that can be a stumbling block especially for non-Catholics but also for some Catholics as well,” said Laura DeMaria, a writer and revert to the Catholic Faith.
DeMaria shared her experience with a non-canonized person who had passed away. In her hometown of Washington DC, a wonderfully holy priest, Father Arnie, was the director of a Catholic center in the middle of town. “I personally never met Fr. Arnie and he has since passed … but I always heard about him and I knew a lot about him. Really the only time I saw him in life before he passed was at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in June of last year and he was the closing speaker and he led everybody in a closing prayer. And as he walked across the stage, before he’d even done or said anything, he got a standing ovation … and I thought, this guy must be pretty special.”
In fall of last year, DeMaria started going through a formation program for Catholic young adults. I began this program—that was Fr. Arnie’s brainchild—just a few months after he passed, and then I got to the end of it this year and I felt sad that I couldn’t thank him for what he had created and what he had brought into my life—all these great friendships and a deeper understanding of the Faith.” So she wondered, if we pray to saints who are well known, what about people who are not saints?
As a revert, asking prayers of someone who had died wasn’t something she had put a lot of thought into, so she began to do some research and start asking friends and priests about it. “One of the first responses that someone gave me was, ‘Well of course we would pray to non-saints because how do they become saints in the first place?’” By asking these deceased holy men and women to intercede for us here on earth, we could contribute to their causes for canonization, a process during which two confirmed miracles must be attributed to a potential saint’s intercession.
“I think it’s a great blessing from God that just because someone has passed over and … is no longer in our life here on earth in this physical plane, it doesn’t mean the relationship is over. And I think it’s such a wonderful reassurance that God gives us that, yes, those people we knew in life are still with us and can still be an intercessor for us. And that doesn’t mean that we’re praying to them just so they become saints … it could be your grandma or a sibling … it could be any number of people who had an effect on your life and were a friend and can continue to do so,” said DeMaria.
For more on this topic, check out Can I ask my miscarried grandchildren to pray for me?