Praying for the Dead

Here is an article I wrote for the cover of our bulletin.

A Time to Honor Those Who Have Gone Before Us

On Friday we celebrated All Saints’ Day.  Throughout the year there are feasts and memorials of many different saints.  On All Saints’ Day, we honor all who are in Heaven, whether they are formally canonized as saints or not.

November 2nd is the “Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed”, more commonly known as All Souls’ Day.  We can also pray those are in Purgatory but November is a special time to pray for the deceased in Purgatory.  We don’t talk about Purgatory much but it still exists.  After death, our souls go to Purgatory for a final purification before we are able to enter into Heaven.

On Monday, November 4th at 7 p.m. we will celebrate our special Mass of Remembrance to especially pray for those who have died in the last year.  Everyone is invited to come.  You will be greeted and invited to submit the name of any loved ones you have lost in the last year and light a candle for them during Mass.

People may ask why we pray for the dead.  We learn about the practice of praying for the dead in 2 Maccabees 12:38-46.  We will pray for those who have died in the last year Monday evening.  Our prayers do not “undo” their sins. We pray that God allow them to swiftly pass through Purgatory to enter clean into the glory of Heaven.

As part of our custom of praying for souls in Purgatory, we may offer our Mass Intentions for our deceased loved ones.  This is a favorite custom for many Catholics.  So much so that we need to limit the number of Mass requests to ensure everyone has an opportunity to have Masses offered.  Without these limits, we would not have Masses available for those who die in the current year.

Such intentions are offered are commonly offered on their day of death but may also be offered on birthdays or anniversaries.  However, when we offer intentions on these days, it should not be seen as a way to celebrate the “anniversary.”  The whole idea of offering a Mass intention for the deceased is praying for them in Purgatory.  May all our loved ones pass swiftly through Purgatory to enter into God’s Heavenly Kingdom.


Fr. Jeff

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