Pray for the Living and the Dead

This spiritual work of mercy is probably that rarest of rare combinations: It is simple, and it is easy. Prayer for the living and the dead is a very efficacious means of giving spiritual alms, and it is something all can do, rich and poor, saintly or sinner. Particularly enjoined upon the faithful is prayer for the faithful departed, the holy souls in purgatory. The Church remembers them especially during this month of November, but our intercession for them should be perennial. This prayer certainly applies to our family members who have passed on—charity begins at home—but it is a laudable practice also to include those most forgotten souls, those who have died in genocides and have been long forgotten because of their vast number.

As for the living, while prayer for family, friends, and benefactors should hold a high place in our prayers, there are other extremely important facets to prayer for the living. We must pray for our enemies and those who do wrong to us. This is something Christ himself commands us to do. A day should not go by without the offering of some concrete prayer for our enemies, whether a remembrance at Mass, a rosary, or some simple short words to the Lord, asking him to bless those who hate us for whatever reason.

Another category of the living also call out for our prayers: those who have no one to pray for them. The simplest, shortest prayer offered for those we see in the street or driving along the highways might elicit the grace that will save their souls-something to think on as we go through our day. And as it occurs to us to pray for all these many intentions, it would be wise to recognize that this itself is a great grace from the Lord, and to render him thanks for allowing us to participate actively in the communion of saints.

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