Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Love Should Not Die At Death

Who will pray for me when I'm gone? Those words hurt my heart to hear. They are so sad...so mournful. This was the title of Fr. Floyd Rotunno's homily several Sundays ago. He relayed the story of a woman in I.C.U who knew her death was near. Her family was not religious and there was little chance they would pray for her soul when she was gone.
Do we pray for those who have died? I'm sure we think of them, talk about them, but do we pray for them? A soul in Purgatory can not pray for itself, but needs...desperately needs, the prayers of the faithful.
It has become an alarming trend to have prayers recited at a funeral home and NOT have a funeral Mass for a deceased loved one. Not having a Mass for a practicing Catholic is unconscionable. Often the family doesn't find a Mass important...it's just a "ceremony". They just want to get "it" over with and get to the party, I mean, repast.  Don't get me started.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel with angels and
souls in Purgatory
Baroque sculpture from Beniajan, Spain
So much is about window dressing....the funeral parlor is filled with flowers, collages of photos, slide shows to watch, a wreath in the colors of the decease's favorite sports team, but what's missing these days....Mass cards. At some wakes not one card can be found, the table that used to overflow with them, is bare. Fr Floyd preached that the greatest spiritual gift we can give is the dedication of the offering of a Mass for our beloved. Often, the funeral Mass is the last Mass offered to God Our Father for the soul of the deceased.
After the perfunctory prayer before the casket that solemn moment changes into a gabfest of laughter and joking. I'm all in favor of families chatting and reminiscing....softly. After all, many families only get together at weddings or wakes, so it's natural to want to socialize. But do it at the repast. What happened to mourners reciting the rosary? So much is about the grand exit....choosing "My Way" by Frank Sinatra for the recessional song. Where's the sanctity....the dignity? Don't get me started.
Many of these lapses begin way before a funeral takes place. Holiness is missing in a wedding where the vows are gurgled underwater with the dolphins as witnesses or as a couple dive out of a plane hurling to earth at 125 mph. If it wasn't important and sacred enough to be married in the House of God, the tabernacle close by and the real Presence of Christ being part of the first day of a couple's life, why should God be part of the last day of their lives?
In the book, The Hungry Souls: Supernatural Visits, Messages, and Warnings from Purgatory by Gerard JM VanDen Aadweg, the Holy Souls don't come back to necessarily shed light on the hereafter, but to plead for prayers and to ask for Masses to be celebrated in their name. Even Protestant souls return begging for Masses to be celebrated in their memory. Would it take a visitation from the dead to make one realize the importance of praying for our beloved? The souls say that it is also important to be generous to those less fortunate and to lend a helping hand to those in need. They cry out, "Be good, think good, speak good, do good" and offer our good for their release. Consider offering up humiliations for those who died with the stench of pride still clinging to them.
If your spouse, parent, child called out in need of your prayers, would you reject that plea? It does not change with death. Our deceased loved ones are often present around us...this is their plea:
" You in the world have no inkling of what we have to suffer! Being abandoned and forgotten by those who have been nearest to us in the world: that is most bitter. Sometimes they stand at the tombs of our decayed bodies and don't pray for us at all. They act as if we don't exist any more. God's justice commands us to be silent. But we stand at the doors of their houses, of our former dwellings and wait. Days. Years. We wait for them to give us a small sign of their love by prayer and sacrifices. But we stay there in vain. We cry in vain for love. For help!...We are still alive and we are hungry for love! For their love!" (Hungry Souls,  p121)
Praying for these poor souls....for the souls of our deceased loved ones is a continuation of the love we had for them on earth. Love should not die at death. No one should fret and fear and ask...Who will pray for me when I'm gone?


  1. This is a good post. I always try to remember all my loved ones, and those who have no one to pray for them, who have passed on. Just this week my grandmother passed away. They almost didn't have a funeral mass, but thankfully changed their mind.

  2. Oh, Maria..I'm so sorry for your loss. Grandma will be in my prayers. Thanks for your comment and interest. May we all keep those who have died in our prayers, esp. those who have no one to pray for them. N

  3. This is so interesting and insightful. Thank you for taking the time to remind everyone that we need to remember our loved ones after they've passed. We should even remember to pray for the souls of those we never knew. And as you said in your comment response: "esp. those who have no one to pray for them."

  4. Thanks Margo for your comment. I think we all need to be reminded to pray for the dead. I fear this doctrine is not taught and is forgotten by many. So, who will pray for us when we are gone? N