Why do we pray for the dead?

Burning Question of the Week
By Paul Dion, STL

It is the month of November. This is the month when we Catholics are reminded by the Church to keep the welfare of our departed loved ones in our prayers.

Ah, yes, Catholics. We sure have a lot of things to think about. One of them is that we pray for our dearly departed, actually pray for them. It is one thing to pray for one another. We do that often. Please pray that I get that job. Please pray so that my mother will get better. Please pray that my son will go back to church again. Please pray that my husband will stop drinking. We are sure that you have heard all these, and even more.

It is a big part of our lives as Christians, not only Catholics. We do it and we do not connect it to what the Israelites of three thousand years ago believe about this sort of prayer. It is in our Bible. People offered sacrifice for one another so that God would look favorably down on those for who they prayed. So, we do the same.

In fact, we go one further, we pray for the dearly departed souls. We pray that they will be greeted heartily into heaven after their life of travail and hardship. But, they are already dead. They are no longer here. What effect will our prayers for them have? All of you reading this pray for your dearly departed relatives. You pray for the repose of the souls of your relatives and friends. So, what do we mean when we say "repose of the souls"?

Think about it. Why do we pray for the dead? Post a comment below.

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  1. Anonymous10:35 AM

    We pray for the repose of all those that are in purgatory. That is why we pray for the souls of those that have passed on. No one knows how long they will be in Purgatory and additionally, those in purgatory can't pray for themselves. That makes our prayers here on earth all the more important so that the souls in purgatory can have eternal peace and salvation in God's heavenly kingdom.

    Now, if you want to delve into what purgatory is and how you end up there, that would be a different topic of discussion, but I'm happy to talk about that as well.

  2. anonymous11:54 AM

    2 Maccabees 12, 46: "Therefore, it is a holy and beneficial thought to pray on behalf of those who have passed away, so that they may be released from sins."

  3. Robert M.11:55 AM

    Dear anonymous, it would be beneficial in my opinion to expand this discussion to the subject of purgatory. Can you start?

  4. Deb P8:32 AM

    Yes, Please I would like to hear more about the subject of purgatory.

  5. George E10:33 AM

    In addition to what Maccabees says I have found a lot of information and guidance from Mary's apparitions. She speaks a lot about purgatory. Not a fun place but one that will lead to heaven and Jesus.

  6. In 1967, the Vatican removed "purgatory" as a concept.

  7. Peter, et al:
    The Vatican did not remove "purgatory" as a concept in 1967, nor in any other year. You are urged to open the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the edition that was produced by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana in 1994, edited and republished in 1997. The English Translation for North America was approved by the same publisher, Libreria Editrice Vaticana in 1997 and published in English in the same year. The teachings of the Catholic Church are very clearly and explicitly enunciated in numbers 1030,1031 and 1032.

    1. Anonymous8:37 AM

      What has any of that clap-trap got to do with what is written in God's word the bible?
      If it doesn't state in the bible which is powered by the Holy Spirit, then it is a man-made....and subject to man's vanity..that's how true Christians ask questions like because Jesus was born at the Feast of Tabernacles,why do catholics have a pagan feast of winter solstice of december 25th,,,I could go on and on about untruths trough the year of man-made stuff that 'lost' Christians are misled and following. the vatican itself is built on a pagan site and pagan symbols adopted...where is the 'one new man' Paul talks. You can keep all your Greek philosophies for the damage that has been done to the pure faith that Messiah died for. What a mess?