Yes, our deceased loved ones are able to see us and know what is going on in our lives. Scripture says that “we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1).
From the context, it is clear that the sacred author is referring to the faithful departed, particularly heroes of the Old Testament. The fact is, even though these people died, they are alive. As Christ Himself said, God is “not God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to him” (Lk. 20:38).
As Catholic philosopher Peter Kreeft notes, those who are dear to us do not stop loving us just because they die. Rather, through Christ their love is purified and strengthened. Their vision and understanding increase, and they are no longer limited by infirmity or even time.
The link, of course, is Christ. Those who are with the Lord in heaven and the faithful who are still alive on earth are united to one another through their relationship with Christ in what is known as the communion of saints.
Christ is truly present by His Spirit in His mystical body, the Church, and He is also present at the right hand of the Father in heaven.
By way of analogy, Greenland is thousands of miles away from Kansas. Yet, through the wonders of the telephone and computer, I am nonetheless “connected” with my friend in Greenland. Through Christ we are united to one another in a way that goes beyond the limits of this world. We are “related” to other Christians by familial bonds that are even stronger than flesh and blood.
Our loved ones and indeed all the saints in heaven are able to “look out” for us and pray for us.
Two caveats in all this. First, I’m assuming here that the “deceased loved ones” are indeed with the Lord. I’m not saying this to scare you, but rather to emphasize the importance of our staying connected to Christ. He is the vine and we are the branches, and without Him we have no life in us.
This should also be a reminder to all of us to pray for our deceased loved ones, who may be in Purgatory and benefit from our prayers. Too often we make presumptions about the status of our deceased loved ones and miss opportunities to pray for them.
Second, heaven is the greatest of homecomings, and surely we will join all our friends and loved ones and indeed all those who are alive in Christ. So there is a rightness in looking forward to being reunited with those who have gone before us.At the same time, the joys of heaven far exceed our limited imaginations.
As wonderful as it would be, say, to be with our deceased parents, or spouse, or children again, that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what God has in store for those who love Him!
.© 2009 School of Faith, Leon Suprenant