Do our dead need our prayers?

Just in few days, November 2 we will be celebrating all Souls. In fact, the Catholic church calls us to recall and pray for our beloved departed, in a special way, the whole month of November. Last year November I was a new pastor at St. Thomas More, and people started to ask me "the envelops that can remind us of praying for departed"

This year, I tried to respond to the request of our beloved parishioners by providing the envelops. I offered even our church for a special day that Duggens/Serra Mortuary will of have as an "Interfaith Memorial Service" on Sunday December 7th at 3:00 PM

Why should we pray for people who died?

From the Old Testament we find on the 2 Maccabees 12:43-46 That Judas got a collection as an expiatory sacrifice for the dead. "In doing so, we read,  he acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection of the dead in view; for if he were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been useless and foolish to pray for them in death. 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."

In the New Testament between verses we read: "And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but he that shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come. (Matthew 12:32): " According to St. Isidore of Seville (died 636) these words prove that in the next life "some sins wil be forgiven and purged away by a certain purifying fire.

The Fathers of the Church have given us a lot of commentaries on the Holy Bible. We can find for example St. Cyprian, Origen, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. John Chrysostom, St. Ambrose and many others teaching us about the importance of praying for our beloved departed.

Let us read for example what St. Augustin (354-430) who says: The solemn pomp of the burial rites, the thronging funeral procession, the costly and careful internment, the raising of a rich monument at the grave, all these things are some kind of solace for living but no help to the dead. However, there is no doubt that the dead are helped by the prayer of the holy Church, by the saving sacrifice, and by alms dispensed for their souls: these things are done that they may be more mercifully dealt with by the Lord than their sins deserve. The whole church observes the custom handed down by our fathers: that those who have died within the fellowship of Christ's body and blood should be prayed for when they are commemorated in their own place at the holy sacrifice and that we should be reminded that this sacrifice is offered for them as well. When these acts of mercy are solemnly performed for their sake, who can doubt that we are truly giving them our support?"

Every time our beloved departed are mentioned when we ask at mass. We do not know until we reach there how much our prayers have helped our beloved ones. Many times people come to us, priests, and say I had a dream, as if my departed dad or mom are calling me to pray for them. We respond with respect to the request of the person and ask him to join us in prayer.

Yes, only in heaven we may understand the power of prayer; the prayers that made great saints and blessed like Mother Theresa of Calcutta that was beatified on October 19th; the prayers that brought to the eternal joy a lot of people who were eager to reach at last the kingdom of God.