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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Can Catholics attend seances?/Why can they pray to dead saints?

“Love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul,
                                  and with all your MIND”--Matt 22:37

Short answer: no, Catholics cannot attend seances. 

Slightly longer answer: Seances are an attempt to conjure the dead, which the Catholic Church has always condemned.

From the Catechism:
All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one's service and have a supernatural power over others - even if this were for the sake of restoring their health - are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons. Wearing charms is also reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to so-called traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another's credulity.

Peter Kreeft in his book Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Heaven says the reason for “this stricture is probably protection against the danger of deception by evil spirits. We are out of our depth, our knowledge, and our control once we open the doors to the supernatural. The only openings that are safe for us are the ones God has approved: revelation, prayer, His own miracles, sacraments, and primarily Christ Himself…The danger is not physical but spiritual, and spiritual danger always centers on deception.”

So the question may arise:  how is it that the Church does not condemn praying to saints?  Is that not "conjuring up the dead"? 

The answer lies in our intentions.  If we are intending to conjure up the dead through, for example, a seance, or the Ouija board, in an attempt to manipulate knowledge and gain information, we are forbidden to do this. 

Praying to saints is simply giving honor to one of God's friends and asking for their intercession. Not to mention, in praying to saints we do not have the expectation of hearing from them and enjoying a dialogue with those who have passed on; while in conjuring up the dead, there is that expectation.

That provides a nice segue into another objection to praying to saints made by some Protestants:  how can the saints hear millions of prayers at the same time? Doesn't that make them omnipotent?  And isn't only God omnipotent?

The simple answer comes from Scripture: "For nothing is impossible with God!"--Luke 1:37. If God wishes to give the saints the power to hear millions of prayers, why couldn't he?  God can empower his saints in heaven with knowledge beyond their natural abilities.  He has done this on earth multiple times (see the numerous Scriptural references* to God granting human beings with supernatural knowledge); he can certainly do it for his beloved saints in heaven!

*Daniel in the OT was given "special knowledge" of King Nebuchadnezzar's dream
*Peter in the NT was given the gift of knowing that Ananias had retained part of his alms-giving for himself, and was struck dead.

For more in-depth study visit these websites:

Catholics Come Home

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" - 1 Peter 3:15


  1. Some people especially near Halloween think it is all for fun to go to a supposedly haunted house and attend a Séance, but even in fun that is an occult practice and shouldn't be done. Is that true?

    1. I don't think a haunted house would be in the same category as a seance. Seances are an attempt to contact the dead; haunted houses are just a faux exposure to scary things.