First Reading: Ws 3:1-9 ; Psalm: 23:1-6 R. 1 or 4; Second Reading: Rom 5:5-11; Gospel: Mt 5: 1-12a
WHY WE PRAY FOR THE DEAD
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
“Before we enter into God’s kingdom, every trace of sin within us must be eliminated, every imperfection in our souls must be corrected.” Pope St John Paul II (CCC 1030-1032)
Today is a day set aside by the Church to specially pray for the Suffering Church. These are those who have gone before us and are currently in a state of on-going purification due to venial sin. 1John 5:16-17 teaches that there are sins that lead to death and there are sins that do not lead to death. These sins that do not lead to death are regarded as venial sin by the Church because they are lesser sins that only injure our relationship with God unlike mortal sin that is grave and destroys our union with God. Souls stained by venial sin at death can be saved but not souls guilty of mortal sin.
But since “nothing unclean shall enter heaven” according to Revelation 21:27, God’s mercy and justice is then made visible by his provision of a state of purification called Purgatory where souls stained with venial sin are purged. For it will be unjust of God to punish in Hell both the souls stained with mortal sin and the souls stained with venial sin.
In Purgatory, one undergoes temporal suffering with the hope of heaven. This is unlike Hell where one undergoes eternal torment without any hope of the Beatific Vision. Although we cannot find the word “Purgatory” in the scriptures but clear traces of its existence can be found. In 2Mac 12:39-44, we read that Judas, a military commander having found that his dead soldiers were wearing pagan amulets decided to make a collection which was sent to Jerusalem for a sacrifice to be offered for their sins. “If Judas had not believed that the dead would be raised, it would have been foolish and useless to pray for them.” Other passages that made allusion to the belief in Purgatory are: Zec 13:9; 2Tim 1:18; Matt 12:32; 1Cor 3:15; Isa 35:8; Ws 7:25.
We are encouraged today to pray for our departed ones since their state are unknown to us; for our prayers can save them. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 1032) encourages us to pray for the dead and offer Masses for them. We can do so today by attending Mass and praying for them. We can also visit their graves to offer some prayers. Prayers and Masses offered for them can hasten their purifying duration. This is the reason we must not cease in praying for them.
May God grant eternal rest to all our beloved departed ones. And may their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Lord God, we pray today for all our departed brothers and sisters. Save them from the suffering of purgatory and grant them a place in your kingdom. Amen.