Mercy Mondays

To Pray for the Living and the Dead

By Wendy Silhavy | Monday, November 07, 2016

During the month of November, we remember in a special way those loved ones who have passed into eternal life. Beginning with the celebration of All Saints on November 1, and continuing with the commemoration of All Souls on November 2, the month begins with an intensification of our prayers for the dead, our prayers that the dead may be reborn into eternal life. To pray for the living and the dead is one of the spiritual works of mercy.

In the Midwest, nature reflects the cycle we will all experience in our lives: we must die in order to live. As the leaves fall from the trees, plants become dormant, and the ground turns brown and freezes, we see and experience death in the natural world. Yet we live in sure and certain hope that the trees and earth will be reborn and renewed in the spring.  Our human lives follow the same pattern: as St. Paul reminds us, “Christ died and came to life, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living” (Romans 14:9).

So now is the time to reflect on those who have gone before us; now is the time to pray that eternal life may be theirs and ours. Visiting a cemetery is an important part of our prayers for the dead: praying at the final resting place of so many is a reminder of the great cloud of witnesses we hope to one day join ourselves.  The Church takes this prayer so seriously that a partial indulgence is given to those who visit a cemetery in the first week of November, the Octave of All Saints; to gain a full indulgence a person would also receive the sacraments of Penance and Eucharist, and pray for the intentions of our Holy Father, the Pope, in addition to visiting and praying at the cemetery.

Mercy Challenge

Take time this week to pray for those who have died using this prayer from the Order of Christian Funerals: “Eternal rest grant unto (name), O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him/her. May he/she rest in peace. May his/her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Wendy Silhavy is the Senior Coordinator for Liturgy and Music of the Archdiocese of Chicago.