A reader has replied to my earlier post concerning this issue:
"I read your entry and I appreciate your trying to address the issue, but it's the same thing I've heard from every Catholic who's tried to explain the issue. There is a fundamental difference between asking a live person to pray for me, and asking a dead one to do so. The very nature of the form of prayer necessary to pray "through" a saint implies that it is substituting the saint for God. This is not true of the nature of asking a live person to pray for me."
Ah, but there is the fundamental issue! The souls in Heaven are, in fact, not dead, but alive and well. In fact, to gain admittance into Heaven, one must be alive and perfect (according to the Catholic Church).
Our bodies are truly resurrected once we die; not necessarily our 'atomic-structured' bodies, but our glorified bodies. Because of Jesus' Resurrection, we are all allowed to become alive again in Him, and rise to new life in Heaven (though many of us will have to stop by Purgatory for some temporal punishment because of Earthly sins). For more information on the resurrection of the body, read Catholic Answers' explanation.
The whole of the 'communion of saints' (as we Catholics call it) is alive and well: on Earth, in Purgatory, and in Heaven. This includes all the Saints and Mary.
If they are not alive, there is no Resurrection, and our faith in Jesus Christ is null and void:
"But if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then empty [too] is our preaching; empty, too, your faith." (1 Corintians 15:12-14)