It is a Good and Holy Thing to Pray for the Dead

10-21-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

I had a nice time at last Sunday's Roast Beef Dinner at our parish school. The Knights, Columbiettes, and all their helpers are to be commended for a job well done. I had both lunch and dinner there – and enjoyed both meals! Even better was the time spent with so many good people that day.

As I was looking ahead in my envelope packet, I noticed that it's time to complete our All Souls Envelopes. That being the case, I thought it would be a good idea to spend some time explaining why we do that.

St. Monica was a woman of great faith who lived in the 300's. During her final illness, her sons asked if she wanted them to send her body back to her native land for burial. Her answer to them was classic: "Bury this old body anywhere. Don't trouble yourself over it. I simply ask you to remember me at the Lord's Altar wherever you are."

St. Monica knew that her sons' prayers would help her get to Heaven (2 Macc. 12:46). She knew that this is especially true of the prayers offered at the Altar – the Holy Mass – which is the most powerful prayer we have. That's why she wanted her sons to have that prayer offered for her when she passed from this life.

It is for this reason that we have a Funeral Mass when a loved one dies. The Funeral Mass is our first and foremost way of remembering those who've died at the Altar of the Lord. While some families today omit the Funeral Mass – and replace it with a simple Funeral Home Service – this should be done only when absolutely necessary.

Our All Souls envelopes are another way of remembering our deceased loved ones at the Altar of the Lord. We write on those envelopes the names of loved ones who have died. The envelopes are then placed near the Altar on All Souls Day (a day the Church sets aside specifically to pray for her dead members) and throughout the month of November (a month dedicated to praying for the souls of our departed brothers and sisters). In this way, our deceased loved ones are included in all the Masses offered that month – especially those of the All Souls Novena. While it is customary to put an offering in these envelopes – that is strictly optional. Any offerings made are used to support the priests who say the Masses for our deceased loved ones.

Yet another way to remember our beloved dead at the Altar is to have Masses said for them. Many people have Mass said on the anniversary of a loved one's death – or their birthday or some other significant day. I personally have Mass offered for each of the deceased pastors of our parish on the anniversaries, and for all the priests who ever served here on both Holy Thursday and the Feast of St. John Vianney (the patron saint of priests). You can do this by contacting the parish office – who will be happy to schedule a Mass for you so long as there is one available on that date (weekends fill up very quickly!). While there is a usual offering of $10, it is actually voluntary – as with the All Souls Envelopes.

The main point is this: our prayers help our loved ones pass quickly through purgatory and into Heaven. I will spend more time on our belief in purgatory next week. In the meantime, I have place pamphlets entitled "PURGATORY" near the Church entrances. Feel free to take one home, read it, and pass it along to your family.

Please pray a Hail Mary for me today – and every day. Let's also pray for all the victims of the recent earthquakes, floods, and storms – and for our deceased loved ones.

Have a great week!
Fr. John