Q. What about the ‘chain messages’ forwarded or sent, saying pass this to 12 or 15 people or so, then you will receive a miracle? If you don’t pass it on, something bad will happen to you. How to explain? Thank you.
A. If you spend time with email or social media, you’ve most likely come across emails or posts that make promises to you if you pass the message on. For example, there might be a special prayer sent to you with the attachment at the bottom: “Pass this on to twelve friends, and you will receive your answer to prayer within twelve days.”
So is this legitimate? No, it’s not. It’s superstition. With that said, there is one clarification worth making. But first let’s look at the superstitious part.
God does not make His grace and mercy contingent upon you forwarding an email to several friends. Perhaps the prayer that is included is quite beautiful and worth praying. Nonetheless, the effect of that prayer is not dependent upon you following the instructions of an email. Only Christ and His Church have the authority to attach grace to prayers. The Church does so through indulgences. For more information on indulgences click here: Q. Indulgences. If you receive one of these emails, it might be best to pass on the prayer part but to remove the promise or warning.
As for the clarification mentioned above, there have been certain private revelations given to mystics that do attach certain promises to certain prayers. Those private revelations and promises must always be evaluated by the Church. If approved, we can trust that God is offering a special grace through those prayers. But the key is that we seek out the guidance of our Church on all private revelations.