October 30 – Catholics and the Dead 1 – Praying for the Dead

First of all, a reminder about Masses of All Saints Day, which is a Holy Day of Obligation:

Mon. Oct. 31 at 5:30 p.m. at St. Mary’s Ackley

Tues. Nov. 1 at 5:30 p.m. at St. Patrick’s Hampton

Also, remember to stop in and visit our Saint Garden on Oct. 31st from 5–7 p.m. (at both St. Mary’s in Ackley at St. Patrick’s in Hampton), where children will again be able to get sweet candy and Saint Cards!

 Also on Mon, Oct. 31, from 8 p.m. until midnight, St. Patrick’s Church in Hampton will be open for Eucharistic Adoration, to help us enter into this holy day. Feel free to stop in and some point as part of your celebration of Halloween

For All Souls Day (which is NOT a Holy Day of Obligation), Mass is at 8:30 a.m. in Ackley.

Also for the day, weather permitting, I will be taking some of our faith formation classes to the cemetery to teach about praying for the dead (and to together pray for our dead).

Speaking of, next Sunday, Nov. 6, we will be lighting candles in commemoration and prayer for each of those members of our parish who died in the past year, as November is a month we intentionally pray for the dead, beginning with All Soul’s Day on Nov. 2.

As we prepare to celebrate All Saints and All Souls day it’s worth reflecting on, why do we pray for the dead, anyway?

From the beginning of Christianity, the community of the dead has been very much a part of the life of Christians. Early Christians would gather to meet, pray, and celebrate the Mass in the catacombs, the tombs of their beloved dead. Thus they had a strong sense of the dead being with them, praying with them, and praying for them.

So why do we pray for the dead? What good do our prayers do? Besides being an ongoing expression of our affection and love, we pray for the dead to assist their souls on the journey through Purgatory. Purgatory is the final journey or process of purification that we need to go through to enter into heaven (so those in purgatory are on their way to heaven). Whatever we are not purged of or purified of in this life will, whatever sinful behaviors and vices we still cling to, we will be purged of in the next life. The prayers of the living assist the dead through this final stage of purifying that they may more quickly enter into the final joy of heaven!

We do this by offering prayers in general, by offering indulgences (a topic I touched on last week’s bulletin column), and most especially by offering masses. The Mass is where we experience the Saving Power of Christ’s work on the Cross, and thus when we offer a mass for one’s intention, we extend that Saving Power of Christ and His Cross to that person who has died! – most often mass intentions are for those who have died, but can be offered for the living as well. But what if we pray for someone who is already through Purgatory and in heaven? Are those prayers wasted? No! God then graciously applies those graces to another Purgative soul in need! So our prayers for our beloved dead are never wasted!

May we continue to assist our beloved dead through prayers that they may enter fully into the Church Triumphant, into the joyous community of the Saints in heaven!


– Fr. Kevin