"If he were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been useless and foolish to pray for them in death. But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought." —2 Maccabees 12:44-45
The writer of 2 Maccabees assumed that praying for the dead was an accepted practice. He presented this practice as an argument to show the truth of the resurrection of the dead. Paul also assumed that praying for the dead, even baptizing them by proxy, was unquestionably accepted. Like the writer of 2 Maccabees, he used this practice to support the validity of the Lord's promise to raise us from the dead (1 Cor 15:29). We know from early Christian history that those who were called by the Lord to write the New Testament believed we should pray for the dead. The reason they didn't write extensively in the New Testament about purgatory and praying for the dead was not because they didn't believe it, but because everyone who was Christian believed these things.
Now we must decide if we are going to see the truths of divine revelation as they are or with the dark glasses of our culture. Are we going to be "cultural Christians," or are we going to be truly "catholic" and transcend the limitations of our culture? Let's not allow our culture to filter out part of the truth of God's revelation. Let's have the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16), His Church, and the Bible. Let's serve in prayer some of our dead brothers and sisters. Let's believe that Jesus' resurrection prevents even death from separating us from Him and our brothers and sisters in Him. "All are alive for Him" (Lk 20:38).
Prayer: "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 Your mercy rest in peace. Amen."
Promise: "Whoever says anything against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever says anything against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come." —Mt 12:32
Praise: "Happy are the dead who die in the Lord!" (Rv 14:13)
Nihil obstat: Reverend Ralph J. Lawrence, April 2, 1996
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 3, 1996
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