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Requiescat in Pace: Novena for Deceased
As Christians, baptized in Christ, we form one body in Him (Rom 12:5). Because of Baptism, each baptized Christian is united to every other baptized Christian through the sharing of this Spirit. Just as a human body is unified by the sharing of blood, so the Body of Christ, the Church, is united by the sharing of Divine Life.
As Catholic Christians, we recognize that the sharing of this one Spirit crosses both space and time. Because God himself spans space and time, we too, united in Him, have a connection that crosses between Heaven and Earth.
In other words, every baptized Christian, from the beginning of time, who has died in Christ, is still united in Christ through the sharing of his Spirit. This is the very reason why, at Mass, we pray, “Remember, Lord, those who have died and have gone before us marked with the sign of faith.”
All souls in Heaven and on Earth, who live in the power of the Holy Spirit, are united by that same Spirit. This is why persons in Heaven can still pray for us on Earth, because we are one body united and living in one Lord.
But we are also united to those persons who are even now being purified from the effects of sin. Not only are there Christians on Earth, or Christians in Heaven, there are also Christians in Purgatory who are being purified to enter perfectly into the heavenly kingdom.
As St. Paul teaches, “Each person’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done” (1 Cor 3:13).
Again, because we all share life in one Spirit, we also share life with these men and women who are being so purified; and our prayers are effective for them. Because we know that some of our loved ones are even now being purified in Purgatory, we desire to assist them with our prayers and so beg God’s grace to complete the purification quickly.
Thus, we pray that our friends and family who have died can truly “Rest in Peace (Requiescat in Pace).”
As a parish family, we have set aside nine days, from Oct. 31 to Nov. 8, to join one another in praying for our deceased loved ones. We call this the Novena for Deceased Loved Ones. Each day we will be offering communal prayers on behalf of our loved ones so that they can be freed from the effects of sins (2 Macc, 12:46).
Each of the devotions prayed on those days will be plenary indulgences that can be applied to the souls in Purgatory; these are called suffrages.
I invite you to join us on these days, to pray for one another, and to let our prayers be effective on behalf of our deceased loved ones to whom we are still united in Christ. (See next two pages for more information about this novena.)