the Church does not recognize the limitation upon which even modern Protestants often insist, that prayers for the dead, while legitimate and commendable as a private practice, are to be excluded from her public offices. The most efficacious of all prayers, in Catholic teaching, is the essentially public office, the Sacrifice of the Mass.
Coming to the proof of this doctrine, we find, in the first place, that it is an integral part of the great general truth which we name the communion of saints. This truth is the counterpart in the supernatural order of the natural law of human solidarity. 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. Now, as between the living, no Christian can deny the reality of this far-reaching spiritual communion; and since death, for those who die in faith and grace, does not sever the bonds of this communion, why should it interrupt its efficacy in the case of the dead, and shut them out from benefits of which they are capable and may be in need? Of very few can it be hoped that they have attained perfect holiness at death; and none but the perfectly holy are admitted to the vision of God. Of few, on the other hand, will they at least who love them admit the despairing thought that they are beyond the pale of grace and mercy, and condemned to eternal separation from God and from all who hope to be with God. On this ground alone it has been truly said that purgatory is a postulate of the Christian reason; and, granting the existence of the purgatorial state, it is equally a postulate of the Christian reason in the communion of saints, or, in other words, be helped by the prayers of their brethren on earth and in heaven. 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. 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. 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. Catholics are in a better position.