Our website is made possible by displaying online ads to our visitors.
Please consider supporting us by whitelisting our site.

Question Corner: Are silent prayers heard by God?

First slide

Are silent prayers heard by God?

Q. I am an 88-year-old Korean War veteran with a question that is not earth-shattering but one that bothers me almost every day. I talk and pray to God, to Jesus and to the Blessed Virgin Mary out loud — every morning and at night before I go to bed. (I live alone.)

But there are also times when I pray silently — just in my head — especially if I wake up during the night. So, what I need to know is whether those prayers — the silent ones — are heard. (Georgia)

A. Please relax and be at peace. The Lord (and Mary, too) hears all our prayers, including the silent ones. In fact, the Bible speaks directly to that. The Letter to the Hebrews says: "The word of God is living and effective ... penetrating even between soul and spirit ... able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart" (4:12).

Even when we are burdened and find prayer difficult, the Lord is there to help us. Paul's Letter to the Romans says that the Spirit "comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings" (8:26).

So, God can hear our thoughts just as easily as he can hear our words. (This may serve as a helpful reminder; even our thoughts should be kind and prayerful, too.)

The Sabbath: Saturday or Sunday?

Q. Why do some religions say that the Sabbath day is Saturday while others — including Catholics — say it's on Sunday? (Eldon, Mo.)

A. No, Catholics do not say that the Sabbath is on Sunday. The Sabbath is on Saturday, as it was in the Old Testament when God rested from all the work he had done in creation (Gn 2:2-3) and as it is observed by Jews today.

Christians, though, celebrate Sunday instead, because that is the day on which Jesus rose from the dead and the day on which the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles.

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains: "Sunday is expressly distinguished from the Sabbath which it follows chronologically every week; for Christians its ceremonial observance replaces that of the Sabbath. In Christ's Passover, Sunday fulfills the spiritual truth of the Jewish Sabbath and announces man's eternal rest in God" (No. 2175).

What Christians are celebrating instead of the sabbath is "the Lord's Day," and that has been happening since the first century. As the Acts of the Apostles relates: "On the first day of the week, when we gathered to break bread, Paul spoke to them" (20:7).

So, for Christians, Sunday is the preeminent holy day of the week, the day on which we refrain from servile work, devote ourselves to the Eucharist, to prayer and family gatherings.

Around 110, St. Ignatius, bishop of Antioch and disciple of the apostle John, proclaimed: "Let every friend of Christ keep the Lord's Day as a festival, the resurrection-day, the queen and chief of all the days."

Hosting unmarried couple

Q. When grandchildren who have been living together for years without being married come to visit, do I put them in separate bedrooms? People laugh at me for this, but I have a real problem: Is living together no longer a sin? (Sorry — I can't move on from my upbringing.) (City and state withheld)

A. I am glad that you haven't "moved on from your upbringing." The value you are upholding is a perennial one. Yes, living together without being married is still a sin and always will be. You have every right, if unmarried grandchildren come to visit you, to assign them to separate bedrooms — and you should.

And it would be helpful to explain to them the reason: that you love them deeply and are glad to see them, but not at the expense of the values you cherish and choose to live by. If they are close to you and respect you, it might also be good, once in a while, to mention the prospect of their marriage (in a church-approved ceremony).

Catholic view of 'the rapture'

Q. Protestants believe in the rapture, and this was never really discussed in Catholic school. What is the Catholic Church's belief? It would be wonderful to know that we will not have to live through the tribulation. (Connersville, Ind.)

A. If, by the "rapture" one understands that, at the second coming of Jesus, all the faithful, living and dead, will undergo a bodily assumption into heaven — then, yes, I would say that Catholics do believe this.

But there are other elements in what is sometimes understood as "rapture theology" that are not consistent with Catholic teaching — especially the notion that there will be a "secret" coming of Christ where he will snatch believers up to heaven and leave others behind to experience a period of severe tribulation.

Supporters of this view point to the passage in Paul's First Letter to the Thessalonians, which says, "For the Lord himself ... will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air" (4:16-17).

The Catholic understanding of this passage is simply that those believers who are alive at Christ's second coming will not experience death but will be transformed in glory and join the saints already with the Lord. Catholic theology finds no evidence to support a belief in a subsequent period of tribulation and chaos.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2022