Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him … ‘They will be Mine,’ says the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 3:16–18)
Praying for the dead is an ancient practice. The Jewish community was doing it two centuries before Christ, as evidenced in the Second Book of Maccabees. Inscriptions in the catacombs of the first five centuries – not to mention ancient funerary liturgies of the Church – attest that early Christians fervently followed this practice. Those who have gone before us need our prayers. And someday we will likely need prayers ourselves.
Our belief in the communion of saints is an acknowledgment that death doesn’t break the bonds of our relationship with God or one another. The holy ones are praying for us, and we are praying for those still working out the details of their journey toward total union with God. Because God is love, anything unloving must be left behind for that union to take place. In the “economy of salvation,” the currency we use to assist our friends is prayer.
Throughout the month of November, a “Book of Remembrance” will be available in the church. There, the names of our deceased loved ones may be inscribed and our prayers on their behalf, we implore, might be received by Almighty God in a special way during celebrations of Holy Mass.
With prayerful best wishes,
Fr. John Mahoney