And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; 
and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying,  neither shall there by any more pain;
 for the former things are passed away.
Revelation 21:4

The   Communion of Saints
Reprinted from Catholic Biblical Apologetics Website 

Paul's letters clarify how the Apostolic Church under the influence of the Holy Spirit spoke of believers as "saints," whether living or dead.

Paul asked the saints to pray for him and to imitate him.

Faithful people in the Post-Apostolic Church in the Apostles Creed defined the confessional response to faith in their creed: "We believe in the communion of saints."

Through Baptism we pass "from death to life; death no longer has dominion over us." Christians must believe that there is no real distinction between the believer in human life and after human life. Saints, living or dead, are indistinguishable before God.

If we can pray for and with saints in this life, we can pray for and with those saints after human life.

And as Paul asked saints to imitate him as he imitates Christ, the Church encourages Catholic Christians to imitate the holiness of the saints as they imitated the holiness of Christ and the Father.

As a hem of a garment, the shadows of saints, and clothes of the saints were used devotionally in the Apostolic Church, so relics and images of the saints are devotionally encouraged by the Church today.

First among saints by the fullness of grace which was hers is the Mother of Jesus, Mary.

A Biblical Portrait of Saint

The word in the Bible for "saint" or "saints" is the word (hagios) also translated "sanctified" or "holy ones." The root word hazo, means "to venerate." Hagios means to be separated from sin and therefore consecrated to God.

Hagios is used of God (Lk 1:49; Acts 3:14; Mt 1:18, etc.). It is a word used of men and things (1 Tim 1:9; 1 Pet 2:5,9, etc.)

When Paul uses the word "saint" in the singular, he refers to a state into which God calls men with His grace.

Phil 4:21

Give my greetings to every holy one (hagion) in Christ Jesus.

In its plural form, Paul uses the word to refer to all believers. For Paul, the word is not applied only to persons of exceptional holiness, nor to those having died characterized by an exceptional life of saintliness.

Eph 2:19

So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones (hagios) and members of the household of God,

Rom 12:13

Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality.

Rom 16:15

Greet Philologus, ... and all the holy ones who are with them.

1 Cor 16:1

Now in regard to the collection for the holy ones, you also should do as I ordered the churches of Galatia.

1 Cor 16:15

I urge you, brothers--you know that the household of Stephanas is the firstfruits of Achaia and that they have devoted themselves to the service of the holy ones--

It is Paul who calls all his fellow believers "saints," and not just the notably holy ones. Paul also uses the term for both those who are living and for those who are dead.

2 Thess 1:9-10

These (who do not acknowledge God nor heed the good news) will pay the penalty of eternal ruin, separated from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power, when he comes to be glorified among his holy ones (hagiois) and to be marveled at on that day among all who have believed, for our testimony to you was believed.

Jude 14-15

Enoch, of the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied also about them when he said, "Behold, the Lord has come with his countless holy ones (hagiais) to execute judgment on all and to convict everyone for all the godless deeds that they committed ..."

This practice of Paul corresponds to one of the earliest creedal statements of Christian faith: The Apostles Creed: "I believe in the communion of saints." Communion of saints refers to the bond of unity among all believers, both living and dead, who are or have been committed followers of Jesus Christ. In the eyes of God, in eternity, the distinction between His People who are "living" or who are "dead" is not at all important.

Mk 9:4

Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus.

Mk 12:26-27

"As for the dead being raised, have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God told him, 'I am the God of Abraham, (the) God of Isaac, and (the) God of Jacob'? He is not God of the dead but of the living. You are greatly misled."

Lk 23:43

He replied to him (the crucified thief) "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."

Rom 12:5

... so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another.

On the Church, No. 49, Vatican II

At the present time some of (Jesus') disciples are pilgrims on earth. Others have died and are being purified, while still others are in glory beholding "clearly God himself, three in one, as He is."

Praying to the Saints
Praying for the Dead

Christians from the earliest centuries of the Church have expressed their communion with those who have died by praying for the dead. Inscriptions in the Roman catacombs indicate that the early Christians honored and prayed for their deceased relatives and friends.

Tertullian (211) Wrote that Christians offered prayer and the Eucharist for the deceased on the anniversaries of their death. St. Augustine (354 - 430) Neither are the souls of the pious dead separated from the Church, which even now is the Kingdom of Christ. Otherwise there would be no remembrance of them at the altar of God in the communication of the Body of Christ.

It is not uncommon that non-believers see the Roman Catholic devotion to the Saints and the dead in general as falling under the prohibition of necrology as found in the Hebrew Scriptures. These people are not aware of the New Life of the Christian who has been called out of this life. They are nor dead, but alive! Or are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life. You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. The early Christians, in praying for their dead were expressing their belief that departed brothers and sisters underwent a purification after death ("purgatory"). 

Their prayers were prayers that God would have mercy on them during this time of healing and purification. Many people who do not share the Catholic Christian faith life have difficulty with the appearance that in their prayers, Catholics appear to pray to the Saints, to Mary, as one prays to God. This "praying to" appears to them to indicate a worship of the Saint as if giving to the Saint or Mary what is due to God alone. However, earliest Christianity has always defined prayer as conversation, as in conversation with God. 

Conversation, as any other act of communication ( e.g., talking, conversation, yelling, etc.), requires a sign of the direction of the communication: one talks to someone, communicates with someone, prays to someone, converses with someone, yells at someone, etc. Hence, praying to God, a Saint, the Virgin Mary indicates simply the direction of prayer communication. It is more a matter of grammar and understanding communication than acknowledging the worship of the receiver. From the earliest of Church Councils (the Council of Rome, 993; defined by the Council of Trent) the distinction was made between worship and honor. Catholics believe that worship is due to God alone. Catholics honor those saints who have gone before us as a sign of faith and victory in living the Christian life. 

Reprinted from: Catholic Biblical Apologetics Website

Dialogue with the dead is feasible, Vatican spokesman says
By John Hooper,
London Observer Service

 ROME – One of the most authoritative spokesmen of the Roman Catholic Church has raised eyebrows among the faithful by declaring that the Church believes in the feasibility of communication with the dead. The Rev. Gino Concetti, chief theological commentator for the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, denied he was signaling any change in approach. But he agreed that his remarks might come as a jolt to many believers. He said the Church remained opposed to the raising of spirits, but added: "Communication is possible between those who live on this earth and those who live in a state of eternal repose, in heaven or purgatory. It may even be that God lets our loved ones send us messages to guide us at certain moments in our life. "His comments were first made in support of an American theologian, the Rev. John Neuhaus. Neuhaus had described how a friend had seen a ghost. He said there were various explanations, but "the important thing is not to deny such things a priority." Concetti said the key to the Church’s attitude was the Roman Catholic belief in a "Communion of Saints," which included Christians on earth as well as those in the after-life. "Where there is communion, there is communication," he said. Concetti suggested dead relatives could be responsible for prompting impulses and triggering inspiration - and even for "sensory manifestations," such as appearances in dreams. Concetti said the new Catholic catechism specifically endorsed the view that the dead could intercede on earth and quotes the dying St. Dominic telling his brothers: "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." 

This article was published by the London Observer Service and was written by John Hooper.

Notes from Barb:

On the Communion of the Saints -- Nicene Creed, which many denominations (not just Catholic) use as a regular prayer feature. I looked up about the Mass for the Dead in a book I have of questions about Catholicism, and found something interesting. The question was asked as to why do a Mass for those who are dead? Part of the answer was this:  First, as all prayer, the intention may be to ask God's blessing and grace on that person during his or her life. Strange as it sounds, we know that God is not bound by the limits of time. Past, present and future are all Now to Him. And we can put ourselves in that sphere of reference of eternity in our prayers. The church in fact does this all the time; in the funeral liturgy, for example, and in some  anniversary liturgies years after the individual is deceased, the prayers ask God to give that  individual the blessing of a holy and peaceful death.  The way I understand this...means that the prayers in later years can change the type of death a person had 

The long Christian tradition of praying to the saints is simply another facet of our request for prayers  from each other. We know that as God's family we can approach Him together to strengthen our own faith and increase our desire for the good things that God can give to us.

Our belief in the "communion of saints" which we profess every Sunday in the Nicene Creed, simply means that the union of faith and love which the family of Christ enjoys goes beyond the limits of  death. The saints, including our own relatives and  friends who have died and are with God, are united with us in some mysterious way by God's providence. Since they are with God it is only natural, and  profoundly Christian, that we ask their help and prayers for anything important to us, just as we ask the help and prayers of the people who are still with us on earth.  

I have a Catholic missal, which contains the text of the various Masses. Without going through all of them to check each one, I did notice that it looks like all or most contain a section where the dead are acknowledged and prayed for, such as in this portion of a Nuptial (wedding) Mass: 

Remember also, O Lord, Your servants and handmaids, (name) and (name), who have gone before us with the sign of faith and rest in the sleep of peace. To these, O Lord, and to all who rest in Christ, we beseech You to grant of Your goodness, a place of comfort, light and peace. 

I think in the "name" places, they put names of anyone in the parish who has recently passed on, but if there is no one, families can request to have the names of their loved ones said.  I am reminded while looking through the missal, that in Catholic worship, nearly all that is said is directly from Scripture. Pretty neat!