All Souls

A very fine way to prepare for our own deaths is to pray for those already dead. The tender obligations to family and friends and brethren do not cease on their death; in fact, for a Catholic imbued with a lively faith they lose not one degree of momentum. To help them in life is grand thing, and a universal human good. To help them in death, when they can no longer do anything for themselves, is a grander thing, a greater charity, and a Christian good. So let us be Christians especially this All Souls’ Day.

Of course, the wag might point out that in fact it is in many ways easier to perform such good after death than before it. There are none of the ongoing complications and entanglements found among the living; a prayer for the dead, a Mass, a rosary, is a neat and complete good done at a safe distance from those, perhaps, we found not so easy in proximity. The relative ease of this good work surely increases the duty of it.

Tomorrow in good parishes and religious houses the priest will bless the graves. It would be good to accompany him in this work with your own good work, yea, duty. I am fond of composing or translating prayers. The one below was published in 1940 and, amended here to bear the weight of the general plural rather than the original particular singular, it would be a good enough prayer for tomorrow, and every day in November.

Prayer for the Dead

O God, to Whom all things live, and to Whom our bodies in death perish not, but change for the better, we humbly entreat, command the souls of Thy servants to be taken up by the hands of Thy holy angels and brought home to the bosom of Father Abraham, Thy friend, to rise again on the Last Day of the Great Judgment, and whatsoever wrong they have contracted through the devil’s deceit, do Thou, kind and merciful, blot out with pardon. [Through Christ our Lord.]