If Catholics Can Invoke the Dead, Why Can’t Mediums?

JMT writes: “Could you please give a simple explanation for why it’s okay for Catholics to communicate with the dead but it’s not okay for mediums to do the same thing.”

Before I answer that question, let’s get one thing straight – mediums can certainly communicate with the dead the way Catholics do, which is by praying for their intercession. The problem is that this is not what most mediums are interested in doing.

There’s a big difference between the Catholic practice of invoking the dead, which is praying for the intercession of the saints, and what mediums do when they conjure up the deceased to either appear and/or communicate with them in some way, which is known as evoking the dead.

Invoking the dead is when we pray to the deceased to ask for their intercession before God.

Evoking the dead is what mediums do when they ask for the spirit of a deceased person to appear or communicate with them in some way.

Invoking the dead is a holy practice; evoking the dead is a sin.

Evoking is a sin because mediums typically conjure a spirit to ask it questions of some kind, either about its welfare for the purpose of consoling its surviving family, or about the future, etc.

As we read in No. 2116 in the Catechism: “All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to ‘unveil’ the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.”

This teaching is derived from the many places in Scripture where the Almighty tells us that we are not to become involved in summoning the spirits of the dead [also known as necromancy].

“There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer 11 or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, 12 for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12)

To be actively involved in conjuring up and evoking the dead is considered to be the sin of necromancy and is strictly forbidden.

But what about all those occasions when a departed soul appeared to a saint? Was that the sin of necromancy?

No, because in these cases, the soul or spirit appeared without the saint having directly called upon it to do so. For example, Padre Pio would often see the souls of the departed who were suffering in Purgatory and were in need of prayer. Other holy men and women were the recipients of apparitions in which a saint appeared to give them advice. All of these appearances or communications were unprovoked.

This is because God sometimes allows these appearances and facilitates them because the disembodied soul has no other way materialize in bodily form except by some kind of supernatural or preternatural intervention. Remember, the body of the soul is rotting in a grave somewhere. If it appears in bodily form, this means it “borrowed” a body from a source powerful enough to provide it (either a supernatural power (God) or a preternatural power (angels/demons)).

Because we know that God condemns necromancy, then it’s safe to assume that He would never consort with a medium or channeler to facilitate the appearance of the deceased, nor will He allow His angels to do so. And because the disembodied soul does not have the power to appear in bodily form, this leaves only one other possible source who is capable of facilitating such an appearance – the devil.

So where does that leave people who sought a medium to contact a loved one?

Because they were actively involved in seeking the appearance or communication of a dead loved one, and resorted to a medium to do so, they should confess this to a priest in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

They should also personally renounce having engaged in this activity through a simple prayer such as, “Jesus, I renounce having sought the assistance of a medium to contact my dead loved one. I repent of this sin and ask for your forgiveness.”

This personal act of renouncement closes whatever “door” might have been opened to Satan that allows him to have more direct access to you (often referred to as a “portal” in exorcist parlance).

Whenever we turn toward Satan and his powers with an act of our own free will, we open one of these “portals”. We must close it the same way we opened it – with our own free will – by freely renouncing the activity.

The bottom line is this – anyone, even a medium, can pray to the dead and ask for help. What we can’t do is deliberately provoke a spirit to appear or communicate with us in some way. This is not only dangerous because it could open the door to unclean spirits, but because it reveals a lack of trust in the power and providence of God.

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