Wednesday, 17 November 2010
So why do we do it now . . ?
Praying for the Holy Dead is, of course, something which we should all do regularly – indeed constantly; which might lead us to wonder why we have a particular obligation to do so in November.
For what it’s worth, I think that there is a double answer; and one which, on consideration, at least appears to be nonsensical . . . although I don’t think it actually is.
The first answer is that we have a general obligation to do this; but that November provides an opportunity for us to address the ‘private’ issues of praying for those close to us, those for whom we have – or at least feel we have – a direct and personal obligation : family, for instance, or old friends . . . so it’s a month to deal with very personal matters.
The other answer, it seems to me, is that it is also an opportunity for us to remember, even if only in a fairly general way, that there are – and perhaps more so now than before – those who no longer have anyone to pray for them; and to offer God our prayers for His servants and handmaidens who are no longer included in the intercessions of anyone else . . . which is kind, and appropriate.
As I said : I don’t actually think this is either unreasonable or nonsensical . . . because during the year I think we tend to think, when we pray for the Holy Dead, either for individuals who have just died (or whose anniversary it is), or – in a rather more ‘general’ way – for the Holy Dead of a family, or a Parish, or a Community, or something like that.
November is our opportunity to ignore the ‘structures’, and simply to offer God our prayers for individuals who occur to us . . . family and friends, perhaps people who for various reasons tend to slip between the normal structures; but in any event to locate ourselves in God’s perception of the World in the context of those whom we owe, and who, perhaps, even owe us . . . some of whom will probably be Saints in heaven, though we do not yet recognize this, and others of whom who may have greater needs for our prayers than we know of . . . it’s all invisible to us, we just keep on praying, and letting God make use of it as He knows is appropriate.
So, let us make use of the rest of this month in praying for those who are dear to us – or even who ought to be – but not forget also those who no longer have anyone to intercede for them, but who deserve our prayers . . . and who will probably, in due course, give us the benefit of their intercessions too, to our great benefit.