One of the many things Father Brainerd taught me was to pray for the dead who have no one to pray for them by name. The urgency, the sadness, the obligation of that realization – that some people have no one who will pray for them! -- is compelling.
One of the consolations of having children and grandchildren is knowing that in them, one can see that he or she will be remembered, will be loved, and will be prayed for after going into the grave. We celibate clergy don’t have that on our plan, so when I ask you to pray for me, don’t think I just mean this week!
November is the month that the Church dedicates to meditating upon the Last Things: Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. This motivates us to remember all who have died, and pray that they be liberated from purgatory and admitted into the fullness of heaven’s glory.
When the Lord comes in glory, and all his angels with him, death will be no more and all things will be subject to him. But at the present time some of his disciples are pilgrims on earth. Others have died and are being purified, while still others are in glory, contemplating 'in full light, God himself triune and one, exactly as he is.’ So it is that the union of the wayfarers with the brethren who sleep in the peace of Christ is in no way interrupted, but on the contrary, according to the constant faith of the Church, this union is reinforced by an exchange of spiritual goods. In full consciousness of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the Church in its pilgrim members, from the very earliest days of the Christian religion, has honored with great respect the memory of the dead; and 'because it is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins' she offers her suffrages for them. Our prayer for them is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us effective. (From the Catechism, 954-958, emphases mine.)
The most effective prayer is the Holy Mass, because it is the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ Himself. To bring the sweet fruit of that saving sacrifice more readily to our loved ones who have died, we have two opportunities here at Saint Bernadette.
On All Souls’ Day itself, we will offer a special evening Mass in which we pray particularly for the souls of those who have died in our parish since last year. We will list the names of all we have buried from our church in that time. If you submit their names and relations to the rectory office, we will also include your close family members who died this year and were buried elsewhere.
Every day throughout November, one Mass is offered for the intentions of the Holy Souls whose names are placed upon our holy altar. To participate, write the names of your beloved dead on the All Souls envelopes you receive or find near the doors. Include your offering – that’s your participation in the sacrifice – and put it in any collection. It will join the stack of envelopes and names on our altar, and remain there through the month. Don’t stop at your parents; include teachers, friends, military personnel, or crime victims you have read about. And don’t forget to include the names of priests or sisters you have known!
Why? Because no one you or I have ever known and loved should ever be left with no one to pray for them by name.