Bury the Dead
Jesus said to St. Faustina: "... I demand from you deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse or absolve yourself from it" (Diary of St. Faustina, 742). The following is the sixth part of our seven-part Lenten series on the corporal deeds of mercy and how we can — and should — incorporate them into our lives.
Plague-ridden bodies no longer litter the streets of the United States, and modern funeral practices have taken the details of caring for the dead off our hands.
So what do we mean today when we are called to "bury the dead"? It means:
• Let go of them. Entrust them to the hands of our merciful Creator and Savior.
• Offer Masses for the eternal repose of souls. Contact your parish priest to arrange this for your own departed loved one or for that of a friend or relative. The Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception have a very particular commitment to pray for the deceased, especially for the long forgotten, the victims of plagues like AIDS, and the soldiers lost in the field of battle. To this end, the Association of Marian Helpers holds these intentions in the minds, hearts, and spirits of all the Marian Fathers and the members of the Association of Marian Helpers — each one making the spiritual commitment to "bury the dead" with all confidence in God's promise of the life of the world to come. Thus, you could enroll your deceased family members, friends, and coworkers in the Association or in another spiritual benefit society.
• Make every Holy Eucharist a time of prayer for departed loved ones and encourage others to do the same.
• Comfort the grieving. Express your sympathy. Give them a hug or handshake at the vigil or funeral service. Bring food to them. Be a patient friend and help them emotionally to "bury the dead."
As for our duty to pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, Marian staff writer Andy Leeco writes:
The Holy Souls in Purgatory cry out in their suffering for our help as they undergo purification for their sins in purgatory.
For us, the faithful on earth, the most important aspect of this work of mercy for the Holy Souls is our ability to help release them from purgatory by having Masses said for their intention as well as through offering personal prayers and sacrifices on their behalf. For this reason, the Marian Fathers maintain the Holy Souls Sodality in which the Marians and their Sodality members join together to offer daily Mass, prayers, and sacrifices on behalf of those in purgatory.
Sodality member Mary Poehailis prays the Stations of the Cross and the Rosary for the souls. In addition, Mary says that at Holy Communion, she remembers the Poor Souls in prayer.
Father Dan Cambra, MIC, spiritual director of the Sodality, says, "Every day, I offer any pain or anxiety I endure in union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the Poor Souls in Purgatory, especially the most neglected; for an increase in priestly, diaconal, and religious vocations, particularly for our Marian community; and for the conversion of sinners."
Donald Tappe, another Sodality member, prays daily for the souls in purgatory, including praying the Rosary: "I pray for my parents, grandparents, and an uncle. They were good to us, and the best I can do for them is to keep them in my prayers. I can't think of a better way to pay them back than to pray for their souls."
How the Marian Helpers can remember those in purgatory? Marian Father Founder Blessed Stanislaus Papczynski wrote, "It is the greatest charity to pray earnestly to God for the freedom of the souls remaining in purgatory."
Blessed Stanislaus would often cite 2 Maccabees 12:43 as a scriptural basis for our duty to assist the Holy Souls: "[Judas] also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of 2,000 drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering [for the dead]. In doing this, he acted well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection."
Blessed Stanislaus was always greatly amazed at how so many Christians did not begin to feel the entreaty of these souls who cry aloud the words, "Pity me, pity me, O you, my friends'" (Job 19:21).
Father Founder taught that the souls in purgatory suffered terribly as they tried to requite God's justice. Therefore, he admonished all of us to offer our illnesses, pains, labors, persecutions, mortifications, and other pious works in sacrifice for them.
For more information, visit prayforsouls.org.