Praying for the dead

A new month – November – has begun. A month in which we especially remember the dead and contemplate the mystery of the the Communion of Saints.  Praying for the dead is one of the simpler works of mercy (also listed in the 7 spirutual works of mercy).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that there are three states of the Church: those who are pilgrims on Earth – that is us, living: The dead, who are in purgatory until their purification; and those who are already in heaven (cf. CCC 954, 962). All of us together form one Church.

St. Faustina wrote “How great the love everyone should have for the Church. As a good child that loves its mother prays for her, so every Christian soul should pray for the Church, which is its Mother”. (Diary. 551)

In our Christian liturgy on the first day of November, we remember especially about the Church that is already in heaven (that is, all the saints, including those who have been canonized); while on the second day of November, we pray for the souls of the faithful departed, including the souls in purgatory.

Prayer for the dead is very important, as these souls cannot help themselves, although they can support us (living ones) with their prayers. St. Sister Faustina, in her Diary, described her encounter with a soul in Purgatory: ”One night one of our sisters who had died two months before came to me (…). I saw her in a terrible condition: all in flames, her face contorted with pain. It lasted a moment, and then she disappeared (…). But I did not stop in my prayers. After a time she again came to me during the night, but she was in quite a different state, no longer in flames, and her face was bright, her eyes sparkling with joy. She told me I really had love for my neighbour, that many souls had benefitted from my prayers, and she encouraged me to continue praying for the souls in Purgatory (…)”. (Diary. 58) And let us, in our hearts hear this request of souls for prayer and support them.

In November, let’s make a special effort to pause for a moment and be silent and pray for the souls.

Let us contemplate the mystery that is the unity of the earthly Church and the heavenly Church.

Let us pray for the dead.

We may use the suggestion in the Diary to talk less and instead use this time for prayer for the souls. “(… ) Sometimes I talk too much. Two or three words would be enough, but I waste too much time to say something. But Jesus wants me to use that time for little prayers of indulgence for the souls in Purgatory. And the Lord tells me how every word will be weighed up on the Day of Judgement. (Diary. 274). We may pray also using short ardent prayers for example, ”I beg You to free all the souls from Purgatory”. (com. Diary. 240)

May this month of November and our prayer for the dead remind us that we belong to one Church and strive for the same goal, which is union with the Merciful God.