Sunday, March 24, 2013

Remembering to Pray for the Dead

One thing I always forget as a Catholic is to pray for the dead.  The Church Suffering (those in purgatory) seem so often forgotten, and yet how often do I myself pray for the souls in purgatory at all?  Hardly ever.

This is odd, for I know that if I die in a state of grace and friendship with God, it will most certainly, in my case, be my destination.  And I know that, for myself, I would dearly wish for those still alive to pray for my soul if I was there.

But perhaps this is all based on a kind of medieval fear that is rooted in imagery rather than reality.  St. Catherine of Genoa, the famed mystic, tells us that "No tongue can express, no mind can understand, how dreadful purgatory is.  Its pain is like that of hell..."1.  And yet, she also adds that "any soul with the least stain of imperfection accept[s] it as a mercy, not thinking it of any moment when compared with being kept from its Love"2.

Regardless, St. John Chrysostom urges us to "help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them"3.  And if God has ordained it so that our prayers are an act of mercy and compassion for the souls in purgatory, then we should engage in such prayers, for "suffering has ended for the blessed, but not love"4.  This same love, Love itself, is what purifies those same souls; that is, "the purgatory of God's burning love"5

Now, I of course do not know of the effects of the prayers for the dead in my own life, but rather only by reading of it in the Scriptures and the accounts of the saints.  What I do know is this - that if our prayers aid them in their sufferings and console those of the Church Suffering, then there is no reason why we should not daily pray for them.  Which one of us would refuse the prayers of the Church Militant for our own souls if we are the ones languishing there instead?  I would think none. 

1 - Treatise on Purgatory, ch. 9
2 - ibid.
3 - Homilies on 1 Corinthians, 41:5
4 - St. Catherine of Siena, Dialogue, 82
5 - St. Catherine of Genoa, Treatise on Purgatory, ch. 1


  1. This subject gives me chills when I come across it. I've read accounts from many modern saints and others having been shown purgatory and hell (Sr. Josefa Menendez, the children at Fatima, just to name a few.)

    Here's something I stumbled across not too long ago: The Museum of the Poor Souls in Purgatory

    I'm not sure how much prayer is "too much" - I say a few hour's worth of prayers every morning (beginner gluttony perhaps, but they are the prayers I feel I need to say, and to make up for lost time in my life), and I have a few I say at night, including some for the souls in purgatory, it just seems obligatory to me, as no doubt I'll be there myself!

    At least that is my hope, and that I will be spared hell (I wear the brown scapular, which promises to save us from hell

    Of course, I doubt anything will save an unrepentant sinner. I believe the scapular is worn as a devotion, and we do have to make some effort to remain true to it, and to our Blessed Mother.

  2. This post comes at a very relevant time, for I have in the past few days been thinking about my death and how I hope that whoever I leave behind will pray for my soul in purgatory. And yet, I do not remember to pray for those in purgatory myself. This is just one of many areas in my faith where I feel I am slacking and need to correct..

  3. Here is a suggestion for a prayer I love for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. It comes from St. Gertrude the Great, a 13th Century mystic. Tradition holds that the promise given to her by Jesus was that a thousand souls would be freed from purgatory every time it was prayed devoutly. I try to attend daily Mass and pray this after I have received the body and blood of our Lord.

    "Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen."

    If I do nothing else with my life, I would hope that my devotion to praying for the Holy Souls in Purgatory would give meaning to my own journey. I also hope that they will pray for me when they are in heaven.

  4. \\ Tradition holds that the promise given to her by Jesus was that a thousand souls would be freed from purgatory every time it was prayed devoutly.\\

    This is neither the tradition nor teaching of the Church, but mere superstition passing as such.

  5. Purgatory is a denial of the gospel. Christ paid the debt for sin in full (Col 2:13-14) and the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin (I John 1:7). This is why Scripture does not teach this doctrine.


    Is it a sin to pray to the Virgin Mary and other dead saints?

    Matthew 4:10 Then Jesus said to him, "Go Satan! For it is written,' "You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.' "

    Praying to any person or anything is worship.

    WORSHIP DEFINED: To revere, stressing the feeling of awe or devotion. Adoring reverence or regard.

    Any worship of anyone or anything other than God is sin.

    The Virgin Mary is not God nor does she have the power to grant petitions of prayer. If men could pray to dead saints and get them answered, then why not pray to saint Moses, saint John The Baptist, saint Abraham, saint Job, saint Enoch, saint The Thief on The Cross or any other dead saint?

    Dead people cannot hear your prayers and if they could they would not have the power to answer them.

    Prayer is worship and only God deserves our worship.

    God knows our every thought. God is aware of every sin we commit. God knows our every move.

    God is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. Those are the attributes of God and what you would need in order to answer prayer.

    Neither the Virgin Mary, Moses, John The Baptist nor any other dead saint has the attributes of God. They cannot hear you nor can they answer YOUR PRAYERS.


    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY CHRISTIAN BLOG. Google search >>> steve finnell a christian view

  7. If you had bothered to google "Christian definition of worship" you would've likely found answers. But, as usual, people can't be arsed but would prefer to cast aspersions on things they do NOT know.



    Communion of Saints:

    No doubt, you will also reject the Church's definition of worship, and the purpose and meaning of prayer. It appears you reject the Church that Jesus Christ Himself founded (the Universal/Catholic Church) and so it appears unlikely you'd soften your heart to let the truth filter in.

    God bless you and enlighten you.

  8. One other point I forgot to mention (I could make a million arguments but I will limit myself):

    Do you ever ask your friends and family to pray for you? If yes, then why is it a sin to ask the faithful departed to pray for us? Are they not also friends and family?

    I could make many more counter-arguments but I don't believe in hammering stones, so I will simply pray for you to obtain grace and guidance to soften your heart, particularly from the saints of God and most particularly from Mary, our Mother :)

    BTW, I do pray to many of the saints, including St Dismas the good thief - who better to bring my petitions to the feet of the King, than the King's most favored chosen ones? Who is closest to the King, than His own mother?

    They may not have the power to answer my prayers themselves, but they are closer to the King than I am, and they are able to entreat His favor on my behalf. Who knows, maybe Jesus has a busy schedule and so delegates petitions to His chosen saints :)

    Also, there is guidance in the examples of the Saints. What better bolster to my faith than to know that even a condemned thief can obtain pardon and mercy from this King!

    So I pray to them to lend me their strength and to help me attain their virtues so I may follow in their examples on my way to our Lord.

    The saints do wonderful things for us, as examples, guides, protectors and advocates. You should research their accomplishments, the reasons why the Church holds each of them as saints, rather than cast aspersions on things you do not apprehend.

    Why limit your access, when you have so many advocates in Heaven waiting to impart their love, strength and guidance for and on you, as well as for and to our Lord. :)

    Let go of your preconceptions, and let the love and light of Christ and His saints guide you. That's what they are there for :)

  9. Ohh and I pray to Saint Daniel, because I need a lion-tamer to help me control the lion's heart (my surname is literally "lion heart" in a germanic language :) I was born with...

    Otherwise I might blithely maul people whose points of view differ from my own. I might be given to spitting invectives, aspersions and condemnations on sinners because they do not adhere to the misconceptions I held in defiance of the Universal church that Jesus Christ Himself founded :)

    May the Saints bless us with their prayers, lending us their strength and examples to enlighten us who are so misguided and lost in this world of sin and evil. Mary, mother of God, pray for us!

  10. Ahh I can't resist.

    You accept and believe that people can be empowered by the Holy Spirit to heal (among other gifts of Charismata), yes? Why would that power be revoked upon death? I've never read anything indicating such. Do you think the power of God disappears from His chosen people upon death?

    Also, you love people in different degrees yes? You love your parents differently than you love your pet rock or that neighbor who always annoys you, yes?

    Then it would be true the degree of love we have for our Lord, is very much different than the love we have for those of a lower standing. And so, the Church, in its infalliable wisdom - (no doubt you reject that doctrine too, because you do not understand its true meaning..I leave it to you to research if you care to know the truth :) - has discerned different types and degrees of veneration:

    Adoration, which is known as latria, is the worship and homage that is rightly offered to God alone. It is the worship of the Creator that God alone deserves.

    Veneration, known as dulia, is the honor due to the excellence of a created person. This refers to the excellence exhibited by the created being who likewise deserves recognition and honor. We see a general example of veneration in events like the awarding of academic awards for excellence in school, or the awarding of the Olympic medals for excellence in sports. There is nothing contrary to the proper adoration of God when we offer the appropriate honor and recognition that created persons deserve based on achievement in excellence. (And here I would even argue, that failing to recognize God's gifts bestowed upon His Chosen, is to deny God! A sin, indeed! :)

    Catholic theology also includes the term hyperdulia for the type of veneration specifically paid to Mary, mother of Jesus, in Catholic tradition. This distinction is spelled out in the dogmatic conclusions of the Seventh Ecumenical Council (787), which also decreed that iconoclasm (forbidding icons and their veneration) is a heresy that amounts to a denial of the incarnation of Jesus.

    I pray: May you grow in faith and understanding. And may the love of God, Mary the Mother of God, the Angels and Archangels, and all of His chosen Saints and servants, enlighten your mind and warm your heart :))