How do the saints and angels hear our prayers?

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saints angels prayers
Fresco of the choirs of angels. by Giovanni Bergamaschi. Shutterstock

Question: How do the saints and angels hear our prayers? Can we pray to them in our mind and count on them to hear us? Or do we have to pray vocally to them (out loud) to get their attention?

Michael Hagen, via email 

Answer: This question occurs in various forms rather frequently. I think the best answer is to consider that the Church is not a mere human organization with separate individuals united with a common purpose. This sort of union requires communication rooted in our five senses. Rather, the Church is the Body of Christ. And this is not a merely allegorical or symbolic assertion, as if to say the Church is “like a body.” No, the Church “is” the Body of Christ. All of us are members, with different functions and roles, and Christ is the head of the body, the Church. 

This means that every member of the Church on earth, in heaven and in purgatory is united through the head, who is Christ. Consider that my two hands can work together to do intricate and wonderful work such as playing the piano, or knitting a beautiful tapestry. But each hand does not have a way of seeing or hearing the other hand, or of communicating with the other hand, except through the head. 

It is the same with the Body of the Christ. We, as members of the Body of Christ, are united to one another through Christ our head. So, while we might not have a megaphone loud enough to reach the saints in heaven, they can know of us through Christ our mutual head in the same way our two hands, without eyes or ears of their own, can work together through the head. Further, just as our hands do not need our brain to speak out loud, neither do the saints need us to speak out loud. The communication between our hands is worked internally in our bodies through the nervous system and our conscious will. So also, the Lord facilitates our interaction with the world Church, here on earth, in purgatory and in heaven. 

As for angels, who are not members of the body by nature, they are surely connected with Jesus the head of the body through their angelic nature. This permits them to know what the Lord wants them to know. About us, our needs, and prayers. Surely there is a kind of angelic “internet” by which angels communicate with God and each other. 

As for demons, who are fallen angels, we cannot presume they are on any network. Hence, there is a tradition that they must be rebuked out loud. Although it is clear enough that they can intrusively project their thoughts to us, there is no evidence that they can read our thoughts. Hence, the tradition that demons need to be rebuked out loud or by some visual sign. 

Msgr. Charles Pope

Msgr. Charles Pope is the pastor of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian in Washington, D.C., and writes for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. at Send questions to