Amoris Laetitia 257: Praying For The Dead

amoris laetitia memeThe practice of praying for the dead gets a lot of scrutiny. It’s a Catholic/Protestant flashpoint. My sense is that as an oft-misunderstood mystery, such discussions shed far more heat than light.

Pope Francis suggests that people maintain bonds with the dead by praying for them:

257. One way of maintaining fellowship with our loved ones is to pray for them.(Catechism 958) The Bible tells us that “to pray for the dead” is “holy and pious” (2 Macc 12:44-45). “Our prayer for them is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us effective”.(Ibid.)The Book of Revelation portrays the martyrs interceding for those who suffer injustice on earth (cf. Rev 6:9-11), in solidarity with this world and its history.

Some saints have offered or inspired important considerations:

Some saints, before dying, consoled their loved ones by promising them that they would be near to help them. Saint Therese of Lisieux wished to continue doing good from heaven.* Saint Dominic stated that “he would be more helpful after death… more powerful in obtaining graces”.** These are truly “bonds of love”,(Catechism 957) because “the union of the wayfarers with the (sisters and brothers) who sleep in the Lord is in no way interrupted… [but] reinforced by an exchange of spiritual goods”.(Lumen Gentium 49)

*Cf. Therese of Lisieux, Derniers Entretiens: Le “carnet jaune” de Mère Agnès, 17 July 1897, in Oeuvres Complètes, Paris, 1996, 1050. Her Carmelite sisters spoke of a promise made by Saint Therese that her departure from this world would be “like a shower of roses” (ibid., 9 June 1897, 1013).

** Jordan of Saxony, Libellus de principiis Ordinis Praedicatorum, 93: Monumenta Historica Sancti Patris Nostri Dominici, XVI, Rome, 1935, p. 69.

A caution for would-be commenters: Your agreement with Catholic teaching is not required to post comments. But I will not tolerate anything other than personally-composed thoughts. Extended quotes from the Bible or some other source will be edited out of your offering. Otherwise, feel free to discuss.

For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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