Saturday, February 10, 2018

Saturday Prayers for the Dead: A gift of healing in the lives of catholic Christians

On Saturday our Lord’s body rested in the tomb, and thus it is the traditional day in the week for us to remember those we love but see no more.

Our society often masks death from view. As a result many people struggle because they have no clear way to bring their grief to God in prayer. Mainstream American Christianity does not deal with this issue because one of its tenants is that we should not pray for the dead. This erroneous teaching was borne of the Reformation and the correction of abuses in this practice during the Medieval period, resulting in an over-reaction that impoverishes the faith.

Members of the catholic faith do pray for the dead, and have done so from the earliest days. We do so because God “is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Mark 12:27) and thus all are alive before him. This being so, we pray for the dead even as we would pray for any other person, mindful that we are not “making” anything happen for anyone—alive or dead—in our prayer. We are participating in the Son’s eternal prayer to the Father in the Holy Spirit. That participation makes for healing in us as well as those for whom we pray.

Below are prayers you may use on Saturday or other times when you desire to remember the dead in Christ, praying for their complete healing and final wholeness. These prayers are taken from the prayers at time of death in the BCP and also from the Burial Service. You may wish to preface them with the name or names you desire to remember before God, and then a brief time of silence before starting the prayers.

I often find this practice gives me hope and an active participation in the Communion of Saints, as well as Christ’s work of salvation in the sometimes-troubling or painful stories of people in my life who die. It can also be a time of deep thanksgiving for the love and learning known through a deceased person. A lot of emotions can happen through this prayer, and that, too, is part of the healing.

It is all part of the vastness of God’s love and the fullness of his will for us. As part of Christ’s Body, we take are share in the this work of compassion and redemption through prayer. For us Life, not death, always has the final word.

Prayers for the Dead

God the Father,
Have mercy on your servants.

God the Son,
Have mercy on your servants.

God the Holy Spirit,
Have mercy on your servants.

Holy Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on your servants.

From all evil, from all sin, from all tribulation,
Good Lord, deliver them.

By your holy Incarnation, by your Cross and Passion, by your precious Death and Burial,
Good Lord, deliver them.

By your glorious Resurrection and Ascension, and by the Coming of the Holy Spirit,
Good Lord, deliver them.

We sinners beseech you to hear us, Lord Christ: That it may please you to deliver the souls of your servants from the power of evil, and from eternal death,
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please you mercifully to pardon all their sins,
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please you to grant them a place of refreshment and everlasting blessedness,
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please you to give them joy and gladness in your kingdom, with your saints in light,
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.

Jesus, Lamb of God:
Have mercy on them.

Jesus, bearer of our sins:
Have mercy on them.

Jesus, redeemer of the world:
Give them your peace.

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Our Father...but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Let us pray.

Deliver your servants, O Sovereign Lord Christ, from all evil, and set them free from every bond; that they may rest with all your saints in the eternal habitations; where with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servants. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, sheep of your own fold, lambs of your own flock, sinners of your own redeeming. Receive them into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light.  Amen.

O Almighty God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, who by a voice from heaven didst proclaim, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord: Multiply, we beseech thee, to those who rest in Jesus the manifold blessings of thy love, that the good work which thou didst begin in them may be made perfect unto the day of Jesus Christ. And of thy mercy, O heavenly Father, grant that we, who now serve thee on earth, may at last, together with them, be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; for the sake of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Rest eternal grant to them, O Lord;
And let light perpetual shine upon them.

+ May their souls, and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.  Amen.

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