Praying for the Dying and Deceased

The following is an excerpt from the Marian Press book 52 Weeks with St. Faustina by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle:

“Especially now, while I am in the hospital, I experience an inner communion with the dying who ask me for prayer when their agony begins. God has given me a wondrous contact with the dying!” 
Diary, 835 

This week’s spiritual exercise deals with the souls of the dying and deceased, and how they affect our lives. We’ll also discuss one of the special gifts that Jesus bestowed upon St. Faustina as she sought to aid souls on the path to Heaven — that is, to be in contact with and to pray for the dying and the deceased. Jesus gave His Secretary of Mercy a very sensitive spirit so that she understood when her prayer was needed urgently. Let’s take a look!

As we touched upon earlier, near the beginning of her religious life, Sr. Faustina asked the Lord for whom should she pray. Jesus let her know that He would reveal those people to her the following night. The next night, something quite extraordinary happened. Sister Faustina recalled it in her Diary:

I saw my Guardian Angel, who ordered me to follow him. In a moment I was in a misty place full of fire in which there was a great crowd of suffering souls. They were praying fervently, but to no avail, for themselves; only we can come to their aid. The flames which were burning them did not touch me at all. My Guardian Angel did not leave me for an instant. I asked these souls what their greatest suffering was. They answered me in one voice that their greatest torment was longing for God. I saw Our Lady visiting the souls in purgatory. The souls call her “The Star of the Sea.” She brings them refreshment. I wanted to talk with them some more, but my Guardian Angel beckoned me to leave. We went out of that prison of suffering. [I heard an interior voice] which said, “My mercy does not want this, but justice demands it.” Since that time, I am in closer communion with the suffering souls (Diary, 20).

We can be sure that this experience left an indelible impression on Sr. Faustina’s heart. From that night forward, she was in very close communion with the souls in Purgatory, as she noted. We also know how important the souls in Purgatory are to Jesus. He gave Sr. Faustina the Novena to Divine Mercy (which she began praying on Good Friday, though it can be prayed at any time of year), and the eighth day is for the souls in Purgatory: 

Today bring to Me the souls who are in the prison of Purgatory, and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. Let the torrents of My Blood cool down their scorching flames. All these souls are greatly loved by Me. They are making retribution to My justice. It is in your power to bring them relief. Draw all the indulgences from the treasury of My Church and offer them on their behalf. Oh, if you only knew the torments they suffer, you would continually offer for them the alms of the spirit and pay off their debt to My justice (Diary, 1226).

Souls Came to Meet Her
Numerous souls visited Sr. Faustina, seeking her prayers for their relief so that they could be released from Purgatory. I’ll mention just a few instances. At the end of her postulancy after she was sent to Krakow, Sr. Faustina was aware that a Sr. Henry was dying. After her death, Sr. Henry appeared in spirit to Sr. Faustina. Sister Henry requested that Sr. Faustina arrange a Mass and three ejaculatory prayers for her soul through the directress of novices and Fr. Rospond. Initially, Sr. Faustina agreed, but the following day, she changed her mind, not being 100 percent sure if the visit had really happened or if it might have been a dream. However, Sr. Henry came back again to make her request, and Sr. Faustina no longer doubted. Yet, in the morning, something prevented her. Sister Faustina recalled, “I decided not to tell the Directress about it unless I saw her [Sister Henry] during the day. At once I ran into her in the corridor.” Sister Faustina continued, “She reproached me for not having gone immediately, and a great uneasiness filled my soul.” Sister Faustina went to Mother Directress to tell her everything. Mother said she would take care of the matter, and an instant peace filled Sr. Faustina’s soul. “[A]nd on the third day,” she continued, “this sister came to me and said, ‘May God repay you’” (Diary, 21).

Another time, a sister who had died a couple of months previously came to Sr. Faustina in a “terrible condition, all in flames with her face painfully distorted.” She disappeared shortly. Sister Faustina shuddered in fear because she couldn’t tell whether this sister was in Purgatory or hell. But the young mystic did not lose a moment, and quickly began praying a great deal for the sister, who returned the following night. This time, she was “in an even more horrible state, in the midst of flames which were even more intense, and despair was written all over her face.” Sister Faustina was astonished to see her in this condition after so many fervent prayers. Faustina asked, “Haven’t my prayers helped you?” The sister said they had not and that nothing would help. Sister Faustina asked if the community’s prayers had helped. She responded that they had not helped her personally, but they had helped other souls. Sister Faustina put her foot down. “If my prayers are not helping you, Sister, please stop coming to me.” The sister disappeared immediately. Nonetheless, Sr. Faustina continued to pray for her.

“After some time she came back again to me during the night, but already her appearance had changed.” The flames were gone, and her face shone radiantly. “Her eyes were beaming with joy.” The radiant sister told Sr. Faustina that she, Sr. Faustina, had “a true love” for her “neighbor and that many other souls had profited from [her] prayers.” She begged Sr. Faustina to continue “praying for the souls in purgatory and added that she herself would not remain there much longer.” Sister Faustina punctuated that entry in her Diary, exclaiming, “How astounding are the decrees of God!” (Diary, 58).

Her Soul Sensed the Needs of Souls
Sister Faustina recalled in her Diary, “It has happened to me for some time now that I immediately sense in my soul when someone is praying for me; and I likewise sense it in my soul when some soul asks me for prayer, even though they do not speak to me about it” (Diary, 155). Sister Faustina experienced a certain disquiet in her soul at these times and received peace when she prayed for the needy souls.

One night a soul came to Sr. Faustina and did not want to leave her. She recalled:

When the soul of a certain young lady came to me one night, she made me aware of her presence, and made known to me that she needed my prayer. I prayed for a while, but her spirit did not leave me. Then I thought to myself, “If you are a good spirit, leave me in peace, and the indulgences I will gain tomorrow will be for you.” At that moment, the spirit left my room, and I recognized that she was in Purgatory (Diary, 1723).

So she prayed often for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Sometimes she would go out to the gate of the cemetery when she had permission, and she would talk to and pray for the souls of those buried there. Once before All Souls’ Day, standing by the gate to the cemetery, she told them, “If you need something, my dear little souls, I will be glad to help you to the extent that the rule permits me.” The souls told her, “Do the will of God; we are happy in the measure that we have fulfilled God’s will” (Diary, 518). Later in the evening, she was visited by souls in need of prayer. She also saw a “great multitude of souls walking with us into the chapel and praying with us” (Diary, 519). Can we imagine this?

Sister Faustina had occasion to experience the longing for God that a soul in Purgatory experiences. She was allowed to feel it keenly during her prayers for someone in Purgatory. Sister Faustina wrote, “From early morning on the following day, I offered everything for her intention. During Holy Mass, I had a brief experience of her torment. I experienced such intense hunger for God that I seemed to be dying of the desire to become united with Him.” It was of short duration, but she then “understood what the longing of the souls in Purgatory was like” (Diary, 1186).

Wholeheartedly knowing the importance of praying for the deceased and the dying, Sr. Faustina cried out to Jesus in prayer:

O Jesus, I understand that Your mercy is beyond all imagining, and therefore I ask You to make my heart so big that there will be room in it for the needs of all the souls living on the face of the earth. O Jesus, my love extends beyond the world, to the souls suffering in Purgatory, and I want to exercise mercy toward them by means of indulgenced prayers. God’s mercy is unfathomable and inexhaustible, just as God Himself is unfathomable. Even if I were to use the strongest words there are to express this mercy of God, all this would be nothing in comparison with what it is in reality. O Jesus, make my heart sensitive to all the sufferings of my neighbor, whether of body or of soul. O my Jesus, I know that You act toward us as we act toward our neighbor. My Jesus, make my heart like unto Your merciful Heart. Jesus, help me to go through life doing good to everyone (Diary, 692).

Sister Faustina told Jesus on the day of her perpetual vows that she knew He would not refuse her the longings of her soul. Therefore, she made three specific requests. The third one was this: “Jesus, I plead with You for the souls that are most in need of prayer. I plead for the dying; be merciful to them. I also beg You, Jesus, to free all souls from Purgatory” (Diary, 240). The dying and the Holy Souls were forever on her mind.

Prayers of Relief Before They Die
In addition to praying for the souls in Purgatory who are in need of prayers because they can no longer pray for themselves, Sr. Faustina deeply desired to assist those in their last agony getting ready for their eternal reward. She especially pleaded for mercy for sinners. Sister Faustina’s sensitive spirit often detected when a soul was in need of prayer. It might not be someone in her convent; sometimes it was even a person at a distance. She wrote, “It sometimes happens that I know about a death occurring several hundred kilometers away. This has happened several times with regard to my family and relatives and also sisters in religion, and even souls whom I have not known during their lifetime” (Diary, 835). Sister Faustina began praying earnestly as soon as she sensed a need. She stopped praying only when peace came to her soul. Many times, through conversations the following day, the time when the person was in their last agony and when they died was confirmed. It always matched the timing of her prayers.

With regard to her role for these souls, one time Sr. Faustina poetically cried out to God, “O God of fathomless mercy, who allow me to give relief and help to the dying by my unworthy prayer, be blessed as many thousand times as there are stars in the sky and drops of water in all the oceans! Let Your mercy resound throughout the orb of the earth, and let it rise to the foot of Your throne, giving praise to the greatest of Your attributes; that is, Your incomprehensible mercy ... ” (Diary, 835).

Something to Ponder
Let us also say: “O Jesus, make my heart sensitive to all the sufferings of my neighbor, whether of body or of soul. O my Jesus, I know that You act toward us as we act toward our neighbor. My Jesus, make my heart like unto Your merciful Heart. Jesus, help me to go through life doing good to everyone” (Diary, 692). Let us also recall that Jesus asked Sr. Faustina to pray much for the souls in Purgatory. He loves them dearly and requests that we “draw all the indulgences from the treasury of [His] Church and offer them on their behalf” (Diary, 1226). Take time this week to ponder the dying and the souls in Purgatory. Make a commitment to praying for these souls in need. We are all a part of the Communion of Saints. We are meant to help one another. They will certainly help us as well.

A Merciful Action
Look for someone most in need and carry out your works of mercy. Also, make a plan for a spiritual bouquet of prayers for the dying and souls in Purgatory and stick to it. Consider also having at least one holy Mass offered for the Holy Souls. Can you pray like St. Faustina? She prayed, “My Jesus, make my heart like unto Your merciful Heart. Jesus, help me to go through life doing good to everyone.”

(To be prayed each day this week.)
Jesus, I love You. My Merciful Jesus, please make my heart like unto Your merciful Heart and help me to go through life doing good to everyone. Help me to be more mindful about praying for the dying and deceased.
Mother Mary, Star of the Sea, guide me. Saint Faustina, please pray for me.
Jesus, I trust in You!

Photo by Bret Kavanaugh on Unsplash.

You can order 52 Weeks with St. Faustina by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle here:


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