Eternal rest grant unto them , O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Traditional Catholic Prayer

This past Saturday I had the privilege of celebrating the Feast of All Souls by attending Mass at a local cemetery.  During Mass, the names of all those who have died in the past year in our parish were read.  It was a blessing to spend this time in prayer with others from the parish and to take this time to pray for those that have died.  “November is the time when we remember to pray particularly for our loved ones and all those who have gone before us.  We also remember that death does not have the last word, because by His most sorrowful passion and glorious Resurrection, Christ overcame the power of death — ‘O death, where is thy victory?  O death, where is thy sting?’ (1 Corinthians 15:55)” *

The church teaches that the most powerful way we can pray for those who have died is the Mass.  The Catechism says (1032): “From the beginning, the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.”  Another powerful prayer is the Rosary.  I have been offering a daily rosary for those family members and friends who have died, naming one before each Hail Mary.  Lastly, the prayer above, is also a simple way to pray for those who have died.  Our daughter-in-law introduced us to the habit of praying this prayer at meal time and we have incorporated the tradition into our family year-round.  Its simplicity makes it easy to pray often and helps us to remember to “pray unceasingly” as St. Paul encourages (1 Thessalonians. 5:17).

In the booklet, Characteristics of a Stewardship Parish, one of the characteristics of a parish that practices intentional love of God and neighbor (dedicated discipleship) is: “Our parish practices the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, both individually and in an organized and intentional manner as a community.”  Offering prayers for both the living and the dead is a spiritual work of mercy and many parishes do this well, offering masses and placing a book containing the names of those who have died in a prominent place for the month of November.

Praying for those who have died respects the truth that death does not break the bond that exists between us.  As I pray, I am drawn closer to those I love.  And, I am drawn closer to the love of God as well.  This shouldn’t surprise me, as we know that the communion which exists between Christ and His Body, the Church, is real and that the love of Christ binds us all together.  As one author puts it, it is His blood which courses through our veins.  Yet, still, I have been taken aback by the consolations I have received this past week in prayer.  In praying for those who have died, I have experienced a profound closeness to Jesus.  It has been an unexpected grace.  It has reminded me of the profound gift it is to belong to the family of God, a family that extends beyond this world and into the next.  It is indeed a thin veil which separates us.  Praise God!

*Much of the information for this post was found at: https://carmelitesistersocd.com/2014/holy-souls/

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