We would love to know whether or not our deceased loved ones are in Heaven. Is praying for our deceased and hoping they are saved incompatible? If it is impossible to know, we must trust that they are in Heaven and pray for them tirelessly.
Can we know if our dead are saved?
Based on the Word of God, as found in the Old and New Testaments, the Church invites us to pray liberally for the deceased. Why? Because God has meant us, together with the saints, to attend to the souls in purification.
The canonized saints we pray to throughout the year are in Heaven, no doubt about it! St. Teresa of Avila, St. Maximilian Kolble, St. Padre Pio, and so many others, see the Lord face to face. When I pray to St. John Paul II, I do not petition for him to reach heaven, I pray to him in order to obtain from the Lord, by his intercession, the graces I require. It goes for martyrs as well, they too see God face to face: the Church assures us that people whose testimony of faith led them to be slaughtered because of it, are all in Heaven.
However, regarding all other deceased that the Church has not yet acclaimed as saints, I cannot be certain that they have reached Heaven. Except with divine permission, which will be a rather extraordinary exception.
We must trust that they are in Heaven and pray for them tirelessly.
That is why I keep praying over time for a deceased person. Yet I do so with the hope that he or she will as soon as can be reach the beatific vision, that is the absolute encounter with the Lord.
However, that does not prevent us from entrusting our deceased to the mercy of God. Should they be in Heaven – which I do not know, but truthfully hope – none of my prayers are useless. For, through the mystery of the communion of saints, they benefit other souls who are undergoing this state of purification.
Revd. Fr. Don Alban Dyèvre, csm.
Shrine Magazine N°266.
“Praying for the deceased, raised in confidence that they live with God, unfolds graces on us too. It tutors us with a real vision of life, opens us to true freedom by inclining us to constantly search for eternal goods.”Pope Francis
Nov. 2020 @Pontifex_fr