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Prayers for the dead

In addition to having a Mass said on the anniversary of a loved one’s death as mentioned above, there exists an old Christian custom of fasting, burning a candle for 24 hours, and praying for them on this day (this custom was adopted by Jews in the Middle Ages; they call it “Jahrzeit” as did the medieval German Christians.) Any orthodox traditional or improvised prayer can be prayed at this time, but the Rosary is always appropriate and can be prayed now (or any time) for the dead, offered in the same way it is at Catholic funerals — i.e., with the Fatima Prayer replaced by the Eternal Rest Prayer. The Eternal Rest prayer is also prayed by itself, offered any time for the dead, when visiting grave sites, and when passing cemeteries. It is a prayer every Catholic should know by heart:

Eternal rest grant unto him/her (them), O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon him/her (them). May he/she (they) rest in peace. Amen. Réquiem ætérnam dona ei (eis) Dómine; et lux perpétua lúceat ei (eis). Requiéscat (Requiéscant) in pace. Amen

 

We also pray for our dead every time we eat if we pray the After Meal Blessing, another prayer every Catholic should know by heart:

We give Thee thanks for all Thy benefits, O Almighty God, Who livest and reignest forever. And may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen. Agimus tibi gratias, omnipotens Deus, pro universis beneficiis tuis, qui vivis et regnas in saecula saeculorum. Fidelium animae, per misericordiam Dei, requiescant in pace. Amen.

 

The Penitential Psalms – i.e., Psalms 6, 31, 37, 50, 101, 129, 142 — are also prayed for the dead, especially the 129th Psalm, known as De Profundis (Out of the Depths):

Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O Lord: Lord hear my voice. De profúndis clamávi ad te, Dómine: Dómine, exáudi vocem meam.
Let Thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication. Fiant aures tuae intendéntes: in vocem deprecationes meae.
If Thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? Si iniquitátes observaveris, Dómine: Dómine, quis sustinébit.
But there is forgiveness with Thee: because of Thy law I wait for Thee, O Lord. Quia apud te propitiátio est: et propter legem tuam sustinui te, Dómine.
My soul waiteth on His word: my soul hopeth in the Lord. Sustinuit ánima mea in verbo ejus: sperávit ánima mea in Dómino.
From the morning watch even until night let Israel hope in the Lord: A custodia matutina usque ad noctem: specret Israel in Dómino.
For with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is plentiful redemption. Quia apud Dóminum misericordia: et copiósa apud eum redémptio.
And He shall redeem Israel, from all their iniquities. Et ipse redimet Israel, ex ómnibus iniquitátibus ejus.

 

Prayer to the Holy Souls in Purgatory

O, Holy Souls in Purgatory, you are the most certain heirs of heaven. You are most dear to Jesus as the trophies of His Precious Blood and to Mary, mother of mercy. Obtain for me through your intercession the grace to lead a holy life, to die a happy death, and to attain to the blessedness of eternity in heaven.

Dear suffering souls, who long to be delivered in order to praise and glorify God in heaven, by your unfailing pity help me in the needs which distress me at this time, particularly (name your needs), so that I may obtain relief and assistance from God.

In gratitude for your intercession, I offer to God in your behalf the satisfactory merits of my prayer and work, my joys and sufferings of this day (week, month, or whatever space of time you wish to designate).

Amen.

 

(Attend Mass and have a Mass offered for them, if at all possible. Offerings of the Precious Blood and the Way of the Cross are also powerful means of helping them and obtaining their help.)

 

A Prayer for the Forgotten Dead

O merciful God,
take pity on those souls
who have no particular friends and intercessors
to recommend them to Thee, who,
either through the negligence of those who are alive,
or through length of time are forgotten
by their friends and by all.
Spare them, O Lord,
and remember Thine own mercy,
when others forget to appeal to it.
Let not the souls which Thou hast created
be parted from thee, their Creator.

May the souls of all the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Amen.

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