November is the month where we make a special point of remembering and praying for the dead. This past week, we celebrated All Souls Day (November 2nd) with a special Mass of Remembrance, in which we prayed for all of our parishioners who have died over the last year. And throughout the month of November we will invite you to enter the names of deceased loved ones in our Book of Remembrance, knowing that we will pray for all of these folks throughout the month.
Praying for the dead is one of the seven spiritual works of mercy, and it’s an important practice for all of us. (Indeed, the majority of our Mass intentions are offered for deceased persons.) Scripture tells us that praying for the dead is an important and honorable thing to do (see 2 Maccabees 12:39-48). Jesus also assures us that forgiveness is possible even after death (see Matthew 12:32), which is especially reassuring since nothing unclean may enter the kingdom of heaven (see Revelation 21:26-27). We know that our prayers can offer real and meaningful assistance to those who are in purgatory, hastening the cleansing of their souls in preparation for their entrance into heaven.
Our prayers for the dead also remind us that we are still connected to our loved ones who have died. By Jesus’ victory on the cross, He conquered death. And since we are all connected with Him as members of one Body, with Him as our Head, that means that our relationship with our deceased loved ones lives on, as we remain connected with them through Christ. I hope this is a comforting thought as we mourn their loss and as we face our own mortality.
So to all of you who have lost a loved one over this past year, know of our special prayers throughout the month. And for all of our deceased parishioners, we pray:
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.
And let perpetual light shine upon them.