Prayer for the dying

sacrament of the sickMost Catholics practice the custom of praying for the dead. We have our annual celebration of remembering all the dead on “All Souls Day” and the month of November is dedicated to renewing our devotion of praying for the poor souls.

The practice of praying for the dead is a venerable tradition and a great act of love and mercy. However, how often do we remember to pray for those who are dying and who will die this day? In today’s Gospel, we heard the story of Jairus’ daughter who was dying and in hopes of saving her live, he went to Jesus. “My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live. (Mk 5:23)”

We all know people who have been taken from this life suddenly and with an unprepared death. Those who have died in traffic accidents, the victims of 9/11 and the many tsunamis, some who have been taken through an act of nature and those who through sad and tragic circumstances. At the same time, we also know of people in hospitals and nursing homes. People who long to leave this life. I have been told many times: “I’m ready to go, but God doesn’t want me.”

So how often do we pray for those who will die this day? There are those who will die today who are in a state of mortal sin, never had the opportunity to know Christ, and those who have outright rejected Jesus Christ and His Church. All of these people need our prayers. We can off the prayer that moves a heart to repentance and the heard heart to request the assistance of a priest.

I once read a story about St. John Vianney and will relate it from memory. A woman whose husband took his life by jumping off a bridge was very disturbed. The woman told the saint she feared his eternal damnation. St. John Vianney told the woman that just before her husband reached the bottom, his conscience was moved and he repented, therefore saving him from hell.

We don’t know the power of our prayers, sacrifices and sufferings. If we pray for those who will die this day, God may grant some unknown soul the grace of repentance. Let us pray daily for those who will enter eternity this day and every day, in hopes that someone will pray for us that day we are called to account for our lives.