Apostolate of Prayer
for the Dying and the
seek some form of active Apostolate
to serve Christ and the Church, especially in the way of helping those
poor souls most in need of assistance ... they seek to assist, to be
actively involved in the lives of others who desperately need
help — and it has nothing to do with money. Most of us do not
have money, and even if we did, it would be of no avail whatever — although
it involves the gravest, the most vital act of charity possible. What
is more, you do not have to go anywhere. It will come to you.
What, then, is this most needful act of charity, and in the most
possible in any person‘s entire life?
It is this:
Whenever you read of or hear about another’s death —
in the news, in your town, in another and remote part of the world ...
no matter who it is ... you should immediately make the Sign of the
Cross and beg God’s mercy on the person who has died, and His pardon
for their sins, and to bring that soul to final repentance and everlasting
life in God's presence.
He alone is the just Judge. It matters not to us who it is that has
died: not his faith or his lack of it; that particular soul is in
dire need of God’s mercy and forgiveness ... and so often has no
one else to pray for them.
Stop what you are doing for a moment, even if it is within yourself, and
pray for them. It will take a few seconds ... but could mean
the salvation of a soul in and through the immeasurable mercy of Christ
What should we
The traditional Catholic prayer for
the dead and for the souls in Purgatory is the following:
Eternal rest grant
unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May the souls of all the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God,
(hence, the abbreviation R.I.P.)
In Latin it is:
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine.
Et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Fidelium animae, per misericordiam Dei,
requiescant in pace.
You will be surprised how active — even demanding — you will find this
quiet and hidden apostolate to be.
What is more, carry it a step further: when you hear the wail of an
ambulance, do likewise, and pray for the healing of the soul to whose
need it is going. If they are in peril of death (and you know not!)
pray for God’s mercy and forgiveness.
This way, you will accompany so many souls on their last and often most
perilous journey: from this life to the next; from this world to Heaven,
despite the very real danger of Hell.
One day you will need the prayers of others — and perhaps
one single person’s prayer will open the gates of Heaven
... and shut the gates of Hell. Your
prayer to our merciful God may
be the one that makes the difference.
Remember this the next time you read the news or browse the Internet.
Especially in these evil days.
“I am house-bound
— what can I do”?
“I am at work all day — what can I do”?
“I am old and alone — what can I do”?
What clarion is needed to remind you of what only you
can give in a way and measure that is yours alone, and of inestimable
Allow me to suggest a few:
When you hear
a siren ...
When you see a racing fire truck ...
When you see a speeding ambulance ...
When you watch a hearse pass ...
When you hear the screeching of tires ...
you see tears in the face of another ...
Each of these is a clarion, a loud call, to
stop whatever you are doing ... and to pray
for someone in desperate need; in the case of an ambulance, urgent,
even critical need; and upon observing a hearse, an even greater need
for mercy that extends to eternity.
you say. Yes — but to put this into practice is difficult: it requires
sacrifice (of time) and discipline (lest you become callous and indifferent
through constant exposure) and most of all, the realization that
it is a genuine Apostolate ... an Apostolate of Prayer. It requires
your believing that God hears our prayers, and that God answers our
prayers. It is a realization that we are, for that time in prayer,
intimately united with those who suffer and die. Our prayers
can help them! But only if we pray.
you further protest, “I would be praying practically all day!”.
Yes ... you would. And someday — absolutely for certain — you
will be that person in need of the prayers of others who prostrate
themselves (inwardly or outwardly) before God Who can do all things.
“Whatever you ask in My Name will be given you”,
Christ told us. Yes, but what if no one invokes that Most Holy Name?
What if we leave it to others to pray ...
the children of a dying
who have not yet learned to pray or who do not know God?
injured, the dead, and the dying, and for the rescue
workers at a suicide bomber site in some remote part of the world
the mother who alone survived the car crash that killed her
husband and all her children.
come to realize that
such calamities may come to
our own doorstep and so much sooner than we imagine. Who will
pray for us?
Our circumstances, it seems, always limit us. We never seem to be where
we feel that we could be able help others in their desperate need ...
even in their last need. Perhaps we even feel that we seldom encounter
the need by others for our prayers at all: everyone we know and care
about is well and there is no impending crisis at hand.
What will call us to prayer? What will remind us of
how desperately our prayers are needed? How can can we help those of whom we know little or
nothing ... and yet need our prayers?
Think of this: Perhaps we
will be the only ones praying for them!
People do not need your “thoughts”!
What does this even mean? The currently
senseless and terribly monotonous — as well as utterly pointless and
useless — “sound-bite”
that we ever hear upon hearing of another’s illness or death is this: “You are in our
It is the secular and “correct” meaninglessness
that demonstrates an utter absence of faith and a thorough indoctrination
with prevailing “social correctitude.” What is the point of these self-inflating
Do your “thoughts”
somehow magically help others?
Do your “thoughts”
really comfort anyone? Your
thoughts are an endless
train of related and unrelated events, ideas, or intuitions. They
all have this in common:
they are only thoughts ... and nothing more. They
will pass or soon (as in “within seconds”)
be replaced by other thoughts, and you are invested in them only
fractionally, momentarily. Some thoughts will result in actions (most
of them not memorable), but most do not. We are most often simply passive
spectators of our own thoughts — if we are aware of them at all!
Our prominent political leaders are extremely adept at keeping unfortunate
people and their families “in their
following some tragedy, and this is to say that they will forget them
as soon as they leave the press conference hastily assembled to demonstrate
their supposed “solidarity”
with the sufferers — and because they have more pressing issues that
are (surprise!) “in their thoughts”
also. Especially when golfing immediately following the press conference
for the dead — every time you hear or read of someone’s death
every time you hear a siren — fire, ambulance, police — and pray
when you witness a somber funeral cortege (which will one day
be your own)
for the sick
for the dying
They do not want or need your “thoughts”
— but they desire, indeed, they need your prayers
... to One Who can help them and deliver them.
Boston Catholic Journal
Printable PDF Version
Comments? Write us:
Totally Faithful to the Sacred
Deposit of Faith entrusted to the Holy See in
opera tua ... quia modicum habes virtutem, et servasti
verbum Meum, nec non negasti Nomen Meum”
know your works ... that you have but little power,
and yet you have kept My word, and have not denied My
Copyright © 2004 - 2023 Boston Catholic
Journal. All rights reserved. Unless otherwise stated,
permission is granted by the Boston Catholic Journal
for the copying and distribution of the articles and
audio files under the following conditions: No
additions, deletions, or changes are to be made to the
text or audio files in any way, and the copies may not
be sold for a profit. In the reproduction, in any format
of any image, graphic, text, or audio file, attribution
must be given to the Boston Catholic Journal.