Prayers For The Un-prayed For Dead

I would like to jot down some thoughts on the subject of praying for the dead. What has prompted this post is the response from the local community to a tragic accident here which claimed the life of a twenty year old woman, and left (at last report) her twenty year old passenger in critical condition.
I have been praying for these two young women and I would ask that you consider uttering a word of prayer for them also. Dozens of people are praying for the families of the victims, and for the (so far) survivor. However, no one has mentioned praying for the young woman who died, and this is what has moved me to write.

Each day I pray for the souls who may be in Purgatory (specific family members, friends and prayer requests) and also for those who have no one else to pray for them. I think that there must be a lot of souls there who have been forgotten by their families, or who may not have any loved ones or friends left to pray for them.

Or, perhaps, they don’t believe in Purgatory in the first place.

Matthew tells us that whoever “speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (12:32). This would seem to indicate that there is some sort of “forgiveness” or “second chance” after death, but we know that once we die we cannot change our lives (repent).

So what is this “forgiveness” in the next life? It’s not so much “forgiveness” as it is a purification. In 1 Cor, Paul tells us that if someone “builds on the  foundation of Christ using gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay or straw, the work of each will come to light, for the Day will disclose it. It will be revealed with fire and the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. If the work stands that someone built upon the foundation, that person will receive a wage. But if someone’s work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire” (1Cor 3:12 – 15). The wood, hay and straw are burned away, leaving only the gold, silver and precious stones, purified.


The Book of Revelation tells us that “nothing unclean will enter Heaven” (Rev 21:27) and Hebrews tells us of “the spirits of the just made perfect” (Heb 12:23). Heaven and imperfection are not compatible. God and imperfection are not compatible. Purgatory is a place of purification which enables a soul to become perfected and, therefore, enabled to become “a partaker of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).

While there may be people who, when their time on Earth is over, go straight to Heaven, I suspect that many, if not most, of us stop over in Purgatory on the way. I think that very few of us die in a state of perfection and, therefor, require some “cleanup” before we can enter through the pearly gates.

Of course, there is no way to know the state of a person’s soul when they die (or at any other time), but I believe that it is an act of charity (love) and hope to pray for the repose of their soul. A soul cannot pray for itself after death, but we can pray for them. And we can offer our own suffering as a prayer for them (and each other) (see Colossians 1:24).

And we should, particularly for those for whom no one else is praying.


This entry was posted in Apologetics, Catechesis, Catholic interest, Catholic Teaching, My Own Stuff, Prayer, Scripture, Thoughts and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Prayers For The Un-prayed For Dead

  1. SR says:

    I want to ask you something Bill. For about six weeks this summer I was going to one to two funerals a week. (Which I will be posting on in upcoming post.) Anyways, two of these were two teenagers who committed suicide. Both from Christian families one was Catholic. In one of the suicide notes one was more or less gay and was afraid to tell his parents because of their religious convictions. The other truly had some emotional problems, and was given all the help from the family they could obtain for him. Now my question.

    Do you think people who are in emotional pain and kill themselves, go to heaven? I have to believe that somehow God understands this, and maybe sees it as if one has “cancer of the mind” instead of the body.

    Some tell me “yes they believe they go to heaven” while others tell me, “they go to hell.” What do you think? Thanks and God Bless, SR


    • rightbill says:

      I think We really don’t know if any specific person is in heaven or not because only God knows the true state of a person’s heart and soul. But I believe that if they have acted while not realizing that they are doing wrong or in a way that they would not act if they were in their right mind, God takes that into account. So, yes, I believe that the possibility of heaven exists for them. God Bless..

      Liked by 1 person

      • SR says:

        Thanks. The one who is Catholic at times a family member will cry. I told her, “I know God understands this and he is in heaven with God.” When I said it, I did not know if it was for comfort for her, or if I believed it. Then the more I thought about it, the more I believed it. Again thanks and God Bless, SR

        Liked by 1 person

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