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Praying for the Dead

Sometimes people think the “social justice” movement within the Church is a new thing. Actually, it dates all the way back to Christ:

Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.' Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?' And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.' Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.' Then they will answer and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?' He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.' And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

(Mt 25: 35-46)

The Church codifies this in the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.


The Corporal Works of Mercy

* Feed the hungry
* Give drink to the thirsty
* Clothe the naked
* Shelter the homeless
* Visit the sick
* Visit the imprisoned
* Bury the dead

The Spiritual Works of Mercy

* Admonish the sinner
* Instruct the ignorant
* Counsel the doubtful
* Comfort the sorrowful
* Bear wrongs patiently
* Forgive all injuries
* Pray for the living and the dead

It is important to remember there are both Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy and one group is not more important than the other. We are called to do both. This morning I attended the funeral Mass of an elderly priest. I didn’t know him. He was not from our diocese but had retired to this area many years ago. He had been ill for many years. He really didn’t have many friends or family in the area. Father mentioned this a couple of days ago and encouraged anyone who was able to come to the funeral Mass. Praying for the dead is one of the spiritual works of mercy.

I was very impressed to see so many of the home-schooling families at the funeral Mass. There were at least eight altar boys for the Mass in addition to all the children in the pews. It is a cause for great hope to see so many families living the Church teachings in their daily lives. It is from such families that future vocations are nurtured.

It is especially appropriate to remember to pray for the dead during the month of November. This is month is dedicated to praying for the souls in purgatory. On All Souls Day our priest shared the following prayer from St. Gertrude:

"Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen."

In addition to offering a prayer for the souls in Purgatory, please also offer a prayer for the soul of Fr. Louis Gagnard.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon him.
May he rest in peace. Amen.

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