Saturday, November 7, 2009

What I Love About #Catholicism: Prayers for the Dead

I know this will sound really weird. Some people don't like to think about death let along prayers for the dead; but surprisingly, this is a source of comfort for me.

At our parish, our pastor will mention requests for prayers before the homily and at times, mention those who have passed on. After the announcements, if there was a death, he leads us into praying a "Hail Mary" and then:

Eternal rest grant unto them (him, her), O Lord.
And may perpetual light shine upon them (him, her).
May the souls of the faithfully departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.

It's a short prayer. But said together, as a community, reminds me of our faith and what we believe about life everlasting. It makes me feel bonded. It also reminds me that, Lord willing, I will have a group of Catholics pray this exact prayer when it's my time to pass from this world into the next.

This tradition is a bittersweet one, but beloved by me because it says no one is forgotten. Within Catholicism, every major part of our lives - from birth, to marriage, to death, is branded by our faith. It says that even in death, we are connected.

This morning, I was doing my ironing near our front window. I could see cars going down the main street, with small flags on their hoods. It took me a moment to realize it was a funeral procession. Instantly I stopped and said a "Hail Mary." I've been doing this for awhile, now, not certain when I started. But every time I hear of death, I pray and ask for God's comfort for those who have lost someone dear. I know that as a Catholic, I'm not alone in doing this, that there are many who do the same thing.

It's amazing that these types of prayers used to strike me as being nothing more than lifeless rituals. Now they have a new meaning to me and are anything but lifeless. They are small channels of God's grace, flowing through us to those who are most in need. That to me, is a two-fold blessing - both for those who need it, and for myself - as I respect both life and death.


Amber said...

I don't think it's weird at all! It's a *wonderful* tradition. Too many of us want to forget that death is an inevitability, and so we don't spend enough time preparing for it and our after life. And we wind up forgetting those who have gone before, because they're 'gone', and there's 'nothing we can do for them'.

Anonymous said...

I love this too and soon our family will begin our annual Month for the Souls in Purgatory, Mov25-Dec25. God bless you Mary Rose.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post. Actually your writing throughout this blog is wonderful.


Shirley said...

There is a wonderful little book called the Purgatorian Manual, which contains many prayers, reflections and practices beneficial to the souls in Purgatory. It is available through St. Francis Books in Ontario.
It is my daily companion.

Pablo the Mexican said...

Dear Madam,

Mrs. Tilman had a son in the military, Army ranger Cpl. Pat Tilman.

He had anti-war opinions after having served some time in the heat of battle. His opinions did not come from cowardice; they came from being an American. He was ‘taken out’ by those who saw the potential of him returning home and voicing his concerns about our involvement. Can you imaging how this would pressure President Obama to bring the troops home if he were alive today? Think of all the money the war mongers of America would lose if our boys came home and protected our borders, like the military should do.

Acts of terrorism carried out on American soil from foreign countries? Nuke them to Hell. Use our sons to protect America. Those towel heads we are fighting for won’t lift a finger to defend themselves as long as our sons are being sent to die in place of those camel jockeys.

Any mother who questions the actions of the U.S. military will be lied to. Our President and Military only bows to Big Business and Arab Potentates. See video here:

Lt. Col. Anthony Herbert has written a book all Americans should read entitled Soldier.
Here is a link to a story about him;

Lt. Col. Herbert had the fightingest Battalion in Vietnam. It was made up of former conscientious objectors. Read the book for details. I recall seeing him on the Dick Cavett Show. Senator Barry Goldwater was on before him, waxing wise. Lt. Col. Herbert came on, and looked Sen. Goldwater in the face and said “It is because of you and others like you that run the war from your armchairs, many of my men died. I refuse in their good names and memory therefore to sit on the same stage with a no good son of a bitch like you.” Exit stage left.

Protect our Borders. Quit sending our “Super Patriots” to fight losing wars.

It used to be that to become pope, you had to sit pantsless in a horseshoe-shaped chair and let a couple of cardinals see if you had the goods. If you passed, they'd yell "Testiculos habet et bene pendentes!" (He has testicles, and they hang well!) It's true; in those days it took balls to become pope. We need to get rid of the Military skanks we have right now and bring forth men who can pass this test and put them in charge. Yes, this will rightfully eliminate women.


Plenty of money to defend towel heads, none for our troops.

We shall pray God’s protection for your husband’s son, Madam. From the enemy overseas, and the ones here.