A Day of Prayer for deceased friends and benefactors


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"Let us spend this day in supplication for those who while on earth befriended us, and were even ready to make sacrifices for our happiness.

It is a very common belief that the souls in Purgatory, though they have no power to aid themselves, can obtain many graces for the living. The celebrated theologian Suarez says: 'The souls in Purgatory are holy and dear to God. Their charity compels them to love us, and they know - at least, in a general manner - to what perils we are exposed, and what particular graces we most need from the Divine bounty. Why should they not intercede for us, even though they have still to expiate on their own behalf? In this life are we not all debtors of God? Yet, nevertheless, this does not hinder us from praying for our neighbour. Did not the holy patriarchs and prophets reposing in Abraham’s bosom from the depths of Limbo pray for the living on earth?

Leaving aside the graver testimonies of the Fathers of the Church, will not Catholic piety in doubtful cases solve at once the question? How many times have we not heard it said, and that even by persons of languid faith: ‘In such and such circumstances I had recourse to the intercession of the Holy Souls in Purgatory, and they have never yet failed me’!

Daily does the Angel of Death enter our homes and summon from us those that are rooted in our affections, and for whom our hearts feel love and esteem. Daily must we bow our heads in reverent silence and submission to the decree that snatches from us some loved one. Perhaps it is a wife who mourns the loss of her husband. She finds comfort and companionship in praying for the repose of his soul; in the words of Tertullian, ‘she prays for his soul, and begs for him in the interim refreshments, and in the first resurrection companionship, and maketh offerings on the anniversary day of his falling asleep.’ Perhaps it is a husband whose loving wife has gone to sleep in death. Then will he hold her memory sacred, and offer thereto the incense of unceasing prayer, so that it may be said of him, as St. Jerome wrote to Pammachius: ‘Thou has rendered what was due to each part, giving tears to the body and alms to the soul…There were thy tears where thou knewest was death, there were thy works where thou knewest was life… Already is she honoured with thy merits; already is she fed with thy bread and abounds with thy riches.’

Perhaps it is a dear friend around whom our heartstrings were entwined, and whose love for us was more than we were worthy of; whose counsels were our guide; whose soul was an open book in which we daily read the lesson of high resolve and sincere purpose; whose virtuous life was a continuous aspiration urging us on to noble thought and noble deed. And yet our friendship may have bound his soul in ties too earthly, and retarded his progress in perfection; in consequence he may still dread the light of God’s countenance, and may be lingering in this state of purgation. It behoves us in all earnestness and in friendship’s sacred claim to pray unceasingly for that friend, beseeching God to let the dews of Divine mercy fall upon his parching soul, assuage his pain, and, taking him to Himself, complete his happiness.

So the sacred duty of prayer for the dead runs through all the relations of life. From all comes the cry begging for our prayers. Every reminder that we receive is a voice from the grave. Now it is the mention of a name that once brought gladness to our hearts; or we come across a letter written by a hand whose grasp used to thrill our souls - that hand now stiffened and cold in death; or it is a dream - and to whom has not such a dream occurred? - in which we live over again the pleasant past with the bosom friend of our soul, and he is back once more in he flesh, re-enacting the scenes of former days, breathing and talking as naturally as though there were no break in his life or ours, and we had never parted. When we awaken from our dream, and the pang of reality, like a keen blade, penetrates our hearts, let us not rest content with a vain sigh of regret, or with useless tears of grief; let us pray God to give the departed soul eternal rest, and admit it to the perpetual light of HIs presence. And in like manner should we regard all other reminders as so many appeals to the charity of our prayers. In this way will the keeping of the memory of those gone before us be to them a blessing and to us a consolation.’" [Brother Azarias in ‘The Ave Maria’]

Taken from Thirty Days’ Devotion to The Holy Souls ~ ‘Forget Me Nots From Many Gardens’