Despite Age of Skeptics, Many Still Ask: Do Souls Communicate From The Other Side
Do souls communicate from the beyond? Do loved ones send us signals?
In His mercy, God may allow this. But here we come to a region of greatest caution. We're not to initiate such contact -- nor participate in such things as seances (which are explicitly forbidden) -- but many are those who have received consolation from loved ones and we'd be glad to hear your accounts.
Is it a coincidence? Or a sign from beyond?
We get many letters about songs that suddenly play when one is thinking about a deceased family member who in some way was attached to that song or a peculiar bird that arrives at a propitious moment at a grave. We have heard from one mother whose special daughter died young and then reportedly appeared to friends in need.
Most recently, there are those who photographed what looked like the silhouette of a priest, Father Hurtado Cruchaga, who was recently canonized, on a church wall. He was guiding, it would seem, or interceding.
It's an interesting subject at this time of the year when the veil between worlds seems thin and when so many are flocking to "haunted" tours. It is especially interesting because November is the month during which the Church has us focus on souls in purgatory.
We are told that there are times when the deceased are trying to get our attention, and many are the saints who experienced visits from the dead, including St. Padre Pio and St. Faustina Kowlaska. In other cases, heavenly souls are simply trying to help us. For years we have distributed a revelation call the "Unpublished Manuscript on Purgatory" that contains the reputed messages from a deceased nun to a living one in the 1800s. The revelations won approval from the promoter for the cause of St. Therese the Little Flower and bear the imprimatur of the Cardinal of Baltimore. At Medjugorje, the Blessed Mother said that souls are sometimes allowed to manifest in order to remind us of the need for prayers.
Many cannot pray for themselves. They are dependent on us. A single Mass can raise a soul to a much higher level of purgatory or even raise that soul into Heaven. A Hail Mary or Our Father can mean the world for a soul on this spiritual desert. We must always remember our deceased and also those who have no one praying for them.
There are those who say they have awoken at night feeling the sudden presence of a loved one. You know how we can "feel" people?
Sometimes this may be the other side seeking to comfort us or as was stated, to beg our prayers. When we are praying for souls on the other side, said the Blessed Mother (at Medjugorje), they can see us.
Scripture tells us not to dabble with necromancy -- initiating conversations with the "dead." Especially alarming is use of the Ouija Board, which exorcists blame for many cases of infestation.
But at the same time, there is no reason to deny such communication. We pray for the deceased, and they also pray for us. Those who are on the "other side" -- whether in purgatory or Heaven -- are intercessors. Take it from Pam Eichen of central Minnesota, who had gone to the grave of a deceased grandchild to pray for her husband's father -- who was in a coma and in the final throes of dying.
"As I stood there, I asked my grandson to tell grandpa it was okay to go up to Heaven because poor grandma couldn't go on much longer," recounts Pam. "All of a sudden, I felt a tremendous sense of peace and joy. I looked at my watch and it was 7:10 p.m. As I slowly drove back to the hospital, I experienced the most wonderful sensation of pure joy and I knew my father-in-law was with God. When I walked back to my father-in-law's hospital room, his minister had just arrived and all of the family were joining hands in prayer. I asked them what time he died, and they told me it was 7:10 p.m."
A woman named Lulie Cosby whose daughter Christin died on Palm Sunday 1998 in an accident describes how that daughter became an intercessor. In one case, she heard from a woman whose daughter-in-law had a football-sized tumor in her colon.
"One evening around sunset, she was walking atop one of the many beautiful mountains in the area," notes Christin's mother. "The sun rays were shining beautifully through the trees and she was praying fervently to God to please help her daughter-in-law recover. She said that all of a sudden, she felt very peaceful and knew without a doubt that everything would be alright. At that time, she saw a little fawn to her right. She looked at it and it ran across her path to her left. As she followed it with her eyes, she saw Christin. The fawn ran behind her. Christin smiled and communicated to her the following: 'Everything will be alright and tell everyone that I am alright.' After that, Christin was gone. My friend fell to her knees crying. The next morning, my friend went to the hospital to check on her daughter-in-law and found out that the tumor was not malignant and she would be released from the hospital soon."
Many are the claims of "haunted" houses, and this is different, more a case -- where such claims may be credible -- of souls that are stuck in an earthbound purgatory. Padre Pio experienced this with a young novitiate whose spirit was disrupting the chapel. That was harmless, but such disturbances should always be followed by prayers both for purgatorial souls in case they are the root of such a disturbance and prayers to cast away evil spirits in the event it is evil causing the disturbance (and coming in disguise). This is why we must be so careful. Mass is very powerful.
Even the White House, it has been alleged, has its ghosts.
The spirit of a British soldier from the War of 1812 is said to walk the grounds. Another tale has a long-deceased White House usher turning off the lights. Britain's Winston Churchill refused to sleep in the Lincoln Room after sighting that president's "ghost."
Once, asked about such things, White House spokesman Mike McCurry said he was a believer. "There are, from time to time, reports that the White House is haunted -- from time to time, mysterious appearances of figures from history. There have been serious people who have serious tales to tell about these encounters."
Indeed! President Harry Truman once said the White House was haunted "sure as shooting."
As usual, we present all of this for your discernment. Our only remark:
Holy Water, gentlemen, Mass and Holy Water.
Signs From 'Other Side,' Are For Consolation or Requests For Prayers
From the mailbag and for your discernment:
Are we supposed to communicate with the dead?
Of course not. As we have mentioned many times, initiation of such contact is contrary to Scripture. It is also highly dangerous. It may be evil spirits that we conjure -- if it's not simply a delusion.
Such can be the province of sorcerers, channelers, and mediums. And here we run up against the Word of God: "Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them," warns Leviticus 19:31.
Stay clear of seances; especially stay away from Ouija Boards.
Cautious we must be (we are not to initiate such communication), but there are certainly instances in and out of the Bible whereby the deceased have sent messages to the living -- from the scene of the Transfiguration, where Elijah and Moses appeared, to Marian apparitions and the testimony of modern mystics such as Maria Esperanza and St. Padre Pio.
In certain cases, and in holy settings, such communication has even achieved imprimaturs.
"There are in purgatory souls who pray ardently to God, but for whom no relative or friend prays on earth," said the Madonna of Medjugorje in 1983. "It happens that God permits them to manifest themselves in different ways, close to their relatives on earth, in order to remind them of the existence of purgatory and to solicit their prayers."
Numerous are the instances whereby relatives seem to pierce the veil to ask for prayers or, just as frequently, to send messages of consolation. Is it wrong?
We heard from you -- many of you -- about this.
"I think every one of us has a
story about something unexplainable happening regarding the afterlife," says
Patty Gridley of Massapequa Park, New York. "Some stories are stranger and more
interesting than others. I'd like to share one with you now. My Aunt Rose was,
by all accounts, one of the sweetest people you would ever want to meet. A
devout Catholic, she was the mother of eight grown children, the youngest of
whom had Down's Syndrome. Her life was tough but, in her opinion, very blessed.
She loved nothing better than to have her whole family gathered together around
the dining room table for a holiday meal.
"In October 1993, she was killed in a tragic accident," continues Gridley. "The family was crushed. We couldn't make sense of this terrible loss. I know I questioned my faith at that time. How could a loving God let this happen? However, I was soon to learn that if we keep our eyes and hearts open, we will see God working even through a terrible tragedy such as that.
"My cousin, Cindy, was about six months pregnant at the time of the accident. She began having problems with the pregnancy and there was concern that she would lose the baby. After Aunt Rose, her godmother, had passed away, Cindy began praying to her to help with the pregnancy.
"At that time, Cindy was working as a receptionist at a doctor's office. In this office, there were two doctors, one on each side of the building and each one had a receptionist. One day while sitting at her desk, after praying yet again to Aunt Rose for help, the receptionist from the other office came over. She told Cindy that, while she was walking through the vestibule between the two offices, a woman approached her and asked if she would give Cindy a message. The woman was dressed in a pillbox hat with a little veil that partially covered her face, such as women wore back in the 1960's. She asked the girl to tell Cindy, 'Everything will be all right. One soul leaves and another one comes.' Not understanding the message, the girl nonetheless assured her that she would deliver it to Cindy.
"When she told Cindy about this strange message, Cindy got up to look out in the vestibule, but the woman was gone. She asked the other girl to describe the woman. When she did, the girl asked Cindy if she knew who it could be. Without hesitating Cindy said, 'yes, it was my Aunt Rose.' (The baby was fine and they named her Allison Rose.)"
What about when we're helping them? What about indulgences for the deceased -- prayers that are especially focused on them during November, the month of All Souls?
Such intercession can be powerful, according to your testimonies.
"During the year of the Jubilee of John Paul II -- when one could gain a plenary indulgence for a Holy Soul -- my sister called me from out of state and told me she was compelled to do the indulgence for my husband's mother," writes Jennifer Spillett. "I wanted to tell my husband about this when he arrived home from work that evening but completely forgot about it.
"The next day after he had arrived at work (he worked noon to 10 p.m.) he called me and he said, 'I have just had the strangest thing happen to me that I have ever had happen.' His voice was shaky, but full of tearful joy. 'My mother went to Heaven today,' he said. I replied, 'What are you talking about?' and he told me that as he was on his way to work, he was in his vehicle at a stoplight waiting for it to turn green and this beautiful music started playing -- he didn't have on his radio -- and an overwhelming feeling came on him of his mother's presence: that she was letting him know she had gone to Heaven that day. After I hung up I called my sister. You guessed it: she had finished her indulgence at approximately the same time this had happened to my husband!""I heard that a novena said for the holy souls that Our Lady most wishes to deliver is incredibly efficacious," writes a viewer named Karen Dembia of Morristown, New Jersey. "I began a novena that night asking the Holy Souls to please help my family commit to praying the Rosary together. I told no one of my prayers.
"The next morning my oldest son, Anthony, told us of an incredibly vivid dream he had where he was praying in a church with his eyes closed. When he opened them he saw a parchment scroll with calligraphy that read: 'Dear Anthony, Your family is destined for Heaven. You will go to Heaven one day too, but you will need to pray the Rosary every day, or you will be in purgatory for twenty years after your death. Love, Mary.'"
Was something similar not said at Fatima?
In the subtle ways of God, the souls also seem to communicate through little signs.
Haven't we all had beautiful little tokens that seemed to sail beyond coincidence?
"When Valentine's Day arrived this year, my mother was missing my dad quite a bit," says a viewer named Steven LaMonde of Broad Brook, Connecticut. "As she sat alone in her home, she said to herself (and my father) 'Ray -- I guess I won't be getting my two yellow roses this year.' Yellow roses were a tradition with my mom and dad every year on Valentine's Day.
"Well, my mother went to a car wash the next day to get the sand and salt from the roads washed off of her car and as she drove out of the car wash, one of the gals in the car-wash office came out to present a gift to my mother -- two yellow roses!
"This car wash gives out flowers and roses to its female customers every year on Valentine's Day and it turns out that there were some leftovers and they didn't want to throw them away!"
Usually, the communication comes in a way that is just short of proof. Always, there is room left for faith. Sometimes it involves what seem like unexplained sounds. "My uncle died a tragic death, in essence drinking and smoking himself to death at an early age," writes Mike Birkhold of Kalamazoo Michigan. "On the night of his funeral, I was lying in bed, not yet asleep. Suddenly, I heard steps crossing my bedroom in front of the bed. I was initially frightened but then I had a strong sense that this was my uncle and he wanted me to pray for his soul. I immediately began praying for uncle Mac and the footsteps stopped. I then felt at peace and fell asleep."
Often involving nature, the signs can be beautiful ones.
"When my wife was diagnosed with stage-four breast cancer on October 20, my brother handed me a first-class relic of St. Paul of the Cross," recalls a viewer named Matt from Shawnee, Kansas. "I didn't know at the time that Oct. 20th is his feast day. My wife and I met on July 7, 16 years to the day I said goodbye to her. At her grave, a bluebird landed on the tree above (this was significant because she loved blue-birds and went to a place called 'Camp Bluebird' for cancer patients). I asked out loud, 'Nanci, did you send that?' and suddenly a gust of wind blew the wing off of a plastic butterfly my children had placed there days earlier..."
The Lord consoles in many way; to deny this is to deny Him a means of communication. What we are to do (especially with Holy Water) is "test the spirits."
"Your article on signals from our Loved Ones really touched me, because in a tremendous way I have experienced the love and consolation of my deceased daughter, Angie," writes Sharon Wagner of Dubois, Indiana. "She passed away in 1996 in a car accident at the age of 15, but many things have happened since that time that make me aware of her constant presence.
"Most recently, I began to notice 'hearts' in very unusual ways. It started out as heart-shaped clouds, or leaves in the shape of a heart, and then it progressed to more concrete hearts.
"I started confiding in my husband that I was seeing so many 'hearts' in various ways and that I just knew it was Angie telling me she loves me. But it progressed even further. As spring approached, and I started taking my morning walks outside down a country road by our home, I began to see rocks in the shape of hearts! Every morning that I walked I would find another, even though not looking for one. I would just look down, and there it would be: the most beautiful rock in the shape of a heart. I started collecting them, and to date have found at least 18.
"One Sunday, when we were leaving after Mass at Sacred Heart Church in St. Anthony, Indiana, as I went to take Holy Water from the font, which held a very large sponge -- as I pointed my finger to the font -- I stopped and was startled! The sponge had 'soaked up' the water into the shape of a large perfect heart! I was so amazed, I told my husband to come look at it, and then I got the priest, and I told him to come look, and when he saw it, he said 'You did that!' I told him absolutely that I did not. It was amazing!
Notes a woman from Michigan, "I don't know if I built my home on haunted property ten years ago, or if I am being visited by the holy souls; I only know that many nights when I lay in bed to read before falling asleep I have often encountered knocking on my wall above my bed in several places. It does not cease until I pray. One night I was so unnerved by it I pulled my Scapular out of my night gown, made the Sign of the Cross with it, and then kissed it. The knocking stopped right away. It's almost as if they are saying, 'can you put in a few good words for us?'"
Test the spirits indeed; but some seem so directly benevolent.