What Classifies a Ghost?

What Classifies a Ghost?

The age old question of whether or not ghosts are real naturally includes some nail biting. It is no doubt a heavy topic. Nevertheless, researching and learning from the experiences of others is necessary if one hopes to form a more enlightened opinion.

The word ghost means “spirit,” as derived from the German word “geist.” The topic of ghosts can instill fear, especially how they are portrayed in Hollywood movies. However, Sacred scripture refers to appearances by ghosts and demons in a different way. For example, when Jesus walked on water, the apostles thought they were seeing a ghost, and again when He appeared after His Resurrection. In another passage, Jesus heals the man who was possessed and a multitude of demons enters a herd of pigs. (Matthew 14:26; Luke 24:38 Mark 5:12; catholicanswers.com.)

Just as humans have testified to encounters with Angels, so too have ghosts and demons made themselves known on earth. However, ghosts can be different than demons.  

Catholics believe that after physical death, if the soul is not ready for the glories of Heaven, it is sent to Purgatory, or, as a priest once called it “Summer School before Heaven.”

A ghost is typically understood to be a soul from purgatory – perhaps allowed by God to return to earth with “unfinished business.” A demonic haunting, on the other hand, may not be as innocent. A demon is a fallen angel and in extreme cases, an exorcism is required to deal with the situation, as seen in the movie The Exorcist, which is based on a true story.

We can actually help ghosts who are “stuck” on earth enter Heaven through prayer. The prayer to St. Gertrude, who emphasized our power to help Holy Souls, takes less than twenty seconds to say. Even a prayer in your own words can go so far in helping a soul in need.

So while moviegoers can be terrified while watching the latest horror haunting, we can honor the dead on the Feast of All Souls, also known as All Hallows Eve and Dia de los Muertos. As the saying goes, Pray for the Dead and the Dead will pray for you.