Sunday, 01 November 2020 16:19

Pray for the dead – do it, please

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Why a funeral Mass and your continued prayers are critical for deceased

It’s a spiritual work of mercy, to pray for the living and the dead. The Catholic Church teaches that not only does Purgatory exist but praying for the souls who are being purified of their sins benefits them and hastens their journey to Heaven.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “All who die in God’s grace, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven” (1030).

“Too often, Catholics, even priests, canonize a person upon their death saying things like that person is enjoying heavenly paradise right now,” said Father Daren Zehnle, director of the Office for Divine Worship and the Catechumenate for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. “I realize saying things like this is comforting for the family and friends of the deceased, but it’s not true about our faith, and it does a major disservice to the deceased; we simply do not know that state of a person’s soul at the moment of death. We are called to pray for the dead because our loved one could be in Purgatory. If our loved one is in Heaven, take comfort that God will use our prayers for another soul in Purgatory.”

But where is there scriptural proof of Purgatory and our call to pray for the dead? 2 Maccabees 12:39-46 says:

“On the following day, since the task had now become urgent, Judas and his companions went to gather up the bodies of the fallen and bury them with their kindred in their ancestral tombs. But under the tunic of each of the dead they found amulets sacred to the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear. So, it was clear to all that this was why these men had fallen. They all therefore praised the ways of the Lord, the just judge who brings to light the things that are hidden. Turning to supplication, they prayed that the sinful deed might be fully blotted out. The noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened because of the sin of those who had fallen. He then took up a collection among all his soldiers, amounting to two thousand silver drachmas, which he sent to Jerusalem to provide for an expiatory sacrifice. In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection in mind; for if he were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Thus, he made atonement for the dead that they might be absolved from their sin.”

“Purgatory is another reason why the funeral Liturgy is so important,” Father Zehnle said. “Each one of us is a sinner and we all need prayers for our sanctification. The funeral Mass is offered specifically for the soul of the faithful departed, asking God to forgive the deceased’s sins and to purify them to make them ready to look upon the Face of God.”

In the church’s liturgical calendar, Nov. 2 is the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, known most commonly as All Souls’ Day. The church dedicates every November to the holy souls in purgatory.

Plenary Plenary Indulgence during month of November

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the need to avoid large groups from forming where prohibited, the Plenary Indulgence applicable to the deceased by those who visit a cemetery has been extended Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the need to avoid large groups from forming where prohibited, the Plenary Indulgence applicable to the deceased by those who visit a cemetery has been extended beyond the normal dates of Nov. 1-8 by Pope Francis. This year, the indulgence can be obtained by anyone who visits a cemetery, even if only mentally, on any day in November, and devoutly prays for the faithful departed.