Hi, Ann —
The Book of Hebrews chapter 12 verse 1 says: We are
surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. In
context, it is talking about those who have
gone before us in faith. Later, in the same chapter,
it goes on to say, when we worship, we join "the
spirits of just men made perfect".
Those are just two scriptures that clearly indicate
that those who have preceded us (assuming they are
not damned to hell) can see us and we are united
to them in Christ.
As Catholics, we believe that we can ask for their
prayers, just as we ask can ask each other for prayer.
Since we know that most of us aren't perfected by
grace in this life, but in the next (purgatory),
we can and should also pray for those who have passed
Can the dead can send us messages?
I'd be cautious, but yes it is possible. if the
Lord so permits it for a particular reason.
This doesn't mean we should try to summon the dead,
seek mediums, consult spiritualists, or participate
in séances. This is all forbidden and is considered
witchcraft / sorcery. In other words, it's serious
sin. To do so, opens us up to the demonic realm.
As far as your particular experience, I can't judge
whether it is your father or not, but it doesn't
make sense that it would be Satan. It could have
been some other kind of phenomena. It is also possible
that whatever you smelled, reminded you so much of
your father, that your other senses (specifically
vision) played a trick on you.
That doesn't mean the whole experience wasn't meant
for you to remember your father. Perhaps this the
Lords way of letting you know your father needs prayer
and/or that your father is praying for you.
The most important thing you can take from this,
is that you should continue to pursue a closer relationship
with the Lord. In so doing, include your passed loved
ones in your prayers and ask them to pray for you.
Finally, regarding your friend who is a Seventh Day
Adventist. I'm sure she is well-intentioned and sincere,
but she is sincerely wrong regarding the condition
of the soul prior to the resurrection of dead.
If you do a search of our data base for questions
Communion of Saints. You'll find lots of answers
with Scriptures to back them up.
I hope this helps.