We would believe it without explicit warrant of Revelation, on the strength of what is otherwise revealed and in obedience to the promptings of reason and natural affection.Indeed, it is largely for this reason that Protestants in growing numbers are giving up today the joy-killing doctrine of the Reformers, and reviving Catholic teaching and practice.Catholic teaching regarding prayers for the dead is bound up inseparably with the doctrine of purgatory and the more general doctrine of the communion of the saints, which is an article of the Apostle's Creed. XXV), "that purgatory exists, and that the souls detained therein are helped by the suffrages of the faithful, but especially by the acceptable sacrifice of the altar", is merely a restatement in brief of the traditional teaching which had already been embodied in more than one authoritative formula as in the creed prescribed for converted Waldenses by Innocent III in 1210 (Denzinger, Enchiridion, n.
As we shall presently see, there is no clear and explicit warrant for prayers for the dead in the Scriptures recognized by Protestants as canonical, while they do not admit the Divine authority of extra-Scriptural traditions. Omitting some passages in the Old Testament which are sometimes invoked, but which are too vague and uncertain in their reference to be urged in proof (v.g.Tobias, iv, 18; Sirach ; etc.), it is enough to notice here the classical passage in II Machabees, xii, 40-46.Men are not isolated units in the life of grace, any more than in domestic and civil life.As children in Christ's Kingdom they are as one family under the loving Fatherhood of God; as members of Christ's mystical body they are incorporated not only with Him, their common Head, but with one another, and this not merely by visible social bonds and external co-operation, but by the invisible bonds of mutual love and sympathy, and by effective co-operation in the inner life of grace.Each is in some degree the beneficiary of the spiritual activities of the others, of their prayers and good works, their merits and satisfactions; nor is this degree to be wholly measured by those indirect ways in which the law of solidarity works out in other cases, nor by the conscious and explicit altruistic intentions of individual agents.
It is wider than this, and extends to the bounds of the mysterious.
The inspired author expressly approves Judas's action in this particular case, and recommends in general terms the practice of prayers for the dead.
There is no contradiction in the particular case between the conviction that a sin had been committed, calling down the penalty of death, and the hope that the sinners had nevertheless died in godliness an opportunity for penance had intervened.
Christ is King in purgatory as well as in heaven and on earth, and He cannot be deaf to our prayers for our loved ones in that part of His Kingdom, whom he also loves while He chastises them.
For our own consolation as well as for theirs we want to believe in this living intercourse of charity with our dead.
But even for those who deny the inspired authority of this book, unequivocal evidence is here furnished of the faith and practice of the Jewish Church in the second century B. that is to say, of the orthodox Church, for the sect of the Sadducees denied the resurrection (and, by implication at least, the general doctrine of immortality), and it would seem from the argument of which the author introduces in his narrative that he had Sadducean adversaries in mind.