Prayers for the Dead: Catholic Prayers to Remember Those Deceased

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Prayers for the Dead Table of Contents:

“All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church 1030


Praying for the souls of our loved ones is a beautiful and important way to show our love and support for them, even after they have passed away. The Church believes that death is not the end, but rather a transition to eternal life. Our prayers can help to purify the souls of those who are in purgatory, so that they can more quickly enter into Heaven.

On All Souls’ Day, we celebrate, honor, and pray for all those who have died. While it is important to pray for souls everyday, November 2 is a particularly special day for prayers for the dead.

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Why Pray for the Souls of our Loved Ones?

First and foremost, we should pray for our loved ones’ souls to show our love and support for them, even after they have passed away. Our prayers can help to comfort them and strengthen their souls on the way to Heaven.

Second, our prayers can help to purify the souls of those who are in purgatory. Purgatory is a place of temporary purification where souls go to be cleansed of their remaining sins before entering Heaven. Our prayers can help to shorten their time in Purgatory and bring them closer to eternal life.

Finally, praying for the souls of our loved ones is a way to grow in our own faith. When we pray for others, we are reminded of our own mortality and the importance of living a good and virtuous life. 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church mentions the communion of all the faithful of Christ, including those living on earth, the dead who are being purified in purgatory, and the blessed in heaven (CCC 962). This is also known as the Church Militant, Church Penitent, and Church Triumphant.  

How to Pray for the Souls of the Dead

There is no right or wrong way to pray for the souls of our loved ones as long as you pray with sincerity and from the heart. We can offer any specific prayer for our loved ones, including the Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, novenas, and especially the Holy Mass. 

Pope Francis reminds us of the power of having a Mass offered for a deceased loved one.

“Church tradition has always urged prayer for the dead, in particular by offering the celebration of the Eucharist for them: it is the best spiritual help that we can give to their souls, particularly to the most abandoned ones,” he said.

You don’t need to formally arrange a Mass offering to pray for someone who has died. Simple prayers and intentions, in conversation with God, are all it takes. Some good intentions might be for deceased loved ones to be forgiven of their sins, to be healed of any spiritual wounds, and to be given the grace to enter Heaven.

Some simple prayers you can say are:

Eternal Rest Prayer

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,

and let perpetual light shine upon them.

May they rest in peace. Amen.


Prayer for Our Faithful Departed

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Like the seed buried in the ground, you have produced the harvest of eternal life for us; make us always dead to sin and alive to God. Amen.


St. Gertrude’s Prayer

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners every where, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.


Bible Verses to Help You Pray for the Dead

When we think about those who have passed away, Scripture can help unite us to our deceased loved one–and bring us God’s peace. 

Here are some Bible passages that will help lift up deceased loved ones to God while also providing comfort to those who mourn their absence here on earth.

Psalm 91:1-7:

You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High,

    who abide in the shade of the Almighty,

  Say to the Lord, “My refuge and fortress,

    my God in whom I trust.”

  He will rescue you from the fowler’s snare,

    from the destroying plague,

  He will shelter you with his pinions,

    and under his wings you may take refuge;

    his faithfulness is a protecting shield.

  You shall not fear the terror of the night

    nor the arrow that flies by day,

  Nor the pestilence that roams in darkness,

    nor the plague that ravages at noon.

  Though a thousand fall at your side,

    ten thousand at your right hand,

    near you it shall not come.

1 Thessalonians 13-18:

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep. Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep. 

For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, console one another with these words.

Isaiah 41: 10

Do not fear: I am with you;

    do not be anxious: I am your God.

I will strengthen you, I will help you,

    I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.

Praying for the souls of our loved ones is a beautiful and important way to help their souls, as well as grow in our own faith and to draw closer to God. If you have lost a loved one, we encourage you to pray for them regularly. Your prayers will make a difference.

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