"Are we prepared to promote conditions in which the living contact with God can be reestablished? For our lives today have become godless to the point of complete vacuity. God is no longer with us in the conscious sense of the word. He is denied, ignored, excluded from every claim to have a part in our daily life." - Alfred Delp, S.J.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Prayers for the dying - and the dead.

On this the 8th day of the novena, the Lord asked Sr. Faustina to pray for the souls in purgatory.

I'm hoping some of the people I've known and loved made it there.

The other day, after waking from a dream, I recalled a few people I've prayed for as they were dying.  Thinking of one dear friend - actually, my best friend's mother, my dream reminded me of the night she died.  Thinking she would make it through the night, my friend and I decided to leave the nursing home so each of us could get some rest.  The nurse pretty much assured us my friend's mom wasn't close to death yet, just very tired.  Before leaving, she cried out,  "Terry can't you do something?"  I think she said it that way because she knew I was religious.  I didn't know what to do, and I tried to comfort her, telling her I was praying.  As luck would have it, the chaplain happened by and I went out into the hall to ask if she could be baptised. (I wasn't sure she had ever been baptised.)

Father said he had seen her earlier and that the Lord knew her soul and she would be fine - besides, she never asked to be baptized.  I know the story sounds nuts, but I'm not revealing everything about the situation.  Long story short, I assured her I'd pray and would be back to see her.  She died shortly after we left.

I still pray for her today as if she is just now dying.  I pray the chaplet for her and offer communions and penances, and I've had Masses said.  I always regret leaving her alone.  There have been other friends who've died alone as well - I regret not being there to pray with and for them as they arrived at the moment of death - so I pray for them now, hoping they are in purgatory... placing myself in spirit next to their deathbed.  I'm sure that sounds crazy too.

It seemed I was around a lot of dying at one point in my life.  At times I was afraid of looking too holier than thou, praying next to the deathbed of someone I was not related to, and who wasn't even Catholic.   Then of course, there were those situations when all seemed well for the night, so I'd go home with the intention of returning the next day, only to find out they died a few hours later, or the next morning. 

Our Lord once instructed Sr. Faustina, "Pray as much as you can for the dying.  By your entreaties, obtain for them trust in my mercy, because they have the most need of trust, and have it the least.  Be assured that the grace of eternal salvation for certain souls in their final moments depends on your prayer." [1777]

I try not to lose my peace over such failures and fears, since I place all of my trust in the Divine Mercy to remedy anything that I failed to do through human weakness or ignorance.  I even hope he will have anticipated the prayers I offer now for their salvation.  If they be in purgatory, I hope they will likewise benefit from the prayers of the chaplet.



  1. Every so often when I bless myself with holy water I pray that it be applied to souls in purgatory, sometimes mentioning a specific person. To anyone reading this, we should do this often, simply praying, "Lord Jesus, by this holy water and by thy precious blood bring souls from purgatory into thy kingdom of heaven, amen."

    Or this:

    "By this Holy Water and by thy precious blood, O Lord wash away the sins of all my dear departed brothers and sisters in Purgatory, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen"

  2. The night my beloved great-aunt (like a grand-mother, my father's mother died when he was 2, and she raised him) I had left: the night before I stayed all day, all night by her side: I drew her there, in her final coma. I had drawn her many times, and even brought her to drawing class with me, so the other students (I was 30) could have the benefit of drawing a beautiful, older face/figure. She was so good to me !
    She died while I slept...a nurse I knew stayed by her. This nurse told me: not to fret, many, if not most, of the people there died very shortly after their families left; they would go out to get something to eat, perhaps, or to rest a bit: she said that she and the other nurses observed this so frequently that she felt the residents 'waited' until their loved ones were gone, to spare them.
    well..it is 30 years later. I miss her. I pray the chaplet for those long dead, as if I Were there at their final moment. I also ask those dead I know, to please help me...
    btw: that drawing, classically done...got such criticism in grad school - I should Never have brought it in. such distain for a classical drawing, of a person like that, lying in bed, near death...it was one of the main reason I pulled out of the art world for decades. I am so grateful I got to draw her.

  3. I agree with Consolata's account that dying after people leave is typical and I'd add... best that they die alone in case the Holy Spirit is guiding them to think certain last thoughts. God may arrange it that way in those cases where He wants to move them to certain thoughts in which case they need space not people. One year after my mom died an awful death, I won her parish's raffle of $740 ( none of us ever won) and putting down the phone after the call, I felt mystically a sunny light and an understanding that she had asked it of God and was right there with Him intimately and sending through it an assurance. No one need believe it since Catholics are never bound to believe even famous private revelations. But I believe it. I had been mad at God about the manner of her death. She had endured violence for Him years ago...where's the return faithfulness to her from Him?
    Then.... He sent the raffle and it's meaning that she was safe.
    He was signalling me that when the death is torturous, purgatory
    is lessened...chill out mad son...chill out.

  4. When I was in high school, my best friend had tried to kill himself and was in the hospital on his death bed. Driving there with friends I was trying to pray the rosary, except I realized I didn't even know how to pray it. Funny how my instinct was to pray even though my mind didn't know how. Every Catholic should know the chaplet.

  5. My Father left us when I was 9, I always wondered where he was, if he thought of us six kids, if he loved us. I heard in my teens he had another family somewhere in another state. After 35 years as an adult, with children of my own, I found out through a distant relative that he was ill. I prayed The Chaplet for him. I found out later that he died that night. His other daughter (we are friends now) found that he had our pictures in his wallet... His other family never knew who we were. He loved us. It was a great consolation. God is merciful!

  6. Life is so difficult. I don't know how anyone survives without prayer and a personal relationship with God.


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