I finished my post before last with - " In pages 36 to 40 he discusses messages left by the living requesting the dead to intercede for them. But that's for the next post."
The book referred to, being Peter Brown's, "The Ransom of the Soul."
On the pages I referred to, Brown describes an area in the catacombs of San Sebastiano, where Roman people, including Christians would go to eat 'celebratory' meals in what they felt was the presence of the deceased loved ones. Often they would scribble some kind of record of the mean, on a wall, along with a sort of prayer to the dead relatives/friends and church heroes.
Brown says there are some 330 such graffiti messages that can still be read.
So here in this quiet place we can still find the thoughts of ordinary Christians of the time prior to Constantine and the great changes he brought to the early church.
What do these scribbled messages tell us. Brown states that the overwhelming sense, is that the living prayed intently to be remembered by the dead.
For example, it was believed that Peter and Paul had been interred there for a while. so one graffiti message reads:
"Peter and Paul, have us in mind, Holy spirits, hold in your mind."
It was believed that dead Christians could also speak directly to God. So another reads:
"Peter and Paul, pray perpetually for Dativus."
But, such requests were not just addressed to the dead Christian heroes, but also to relatives and friends. An example given is this:
"Januaria, take your rest well, and ask for us."
Through these inscribed requests, we can see that for many early Christians, there was no thought that their dead relatives and friends were asleep in death, but they were regarded as being able to 'speak' directly to God and to pass on messages.
That's a far cry from being unconscious.