Pope Francis today concluded his series of catecheses on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, which he began during the Jubilee year, focusing on the corporal work of burying the dead and the spiritual work of praying for the living and the deceased.
“Although the catecheses finish, mercy must continue,” the Pope exclaimed, offering the Lord thanks for the “consolation and comfort” of the graces of mercy.
Regarding burying the dead, the Pope said it might seem a “strange” work in our day, but that with the wars of our time, and the constant bombardment of certain regions, it is still sadly relevant. He spoke of the courage of Joseph of Arimathea in going to Pilate to request Jesus’ body, and offering Our Lord his own tomb.
Regarding prayer for the deceased, the Holy Father spoke of it as a “sign of gratitude for the testimony they left us and for the good they did.”
“It is to thank the Lord for having given them to us and for their love and their friendship,” he reflected.
The Pope spoke of the prayers for the dead in the liturgy, saying that we pray, “with Christian hope that [the deceased] may be with Him in Paradise, in the expectation of meeting one another again in that mystery of love, which we do not understand, but which we know is true because it is a promise Jesus made.”
As well, Francis continued, we need to pray for the living, all of us who “face every day the trials of life.”
“In fact, the Communion of Saints indicates that we are all immersed in the life of God and we live in His love. All, living and deceased, are in communion, that is, as a union; united in the community of all those who received Baptism, and of those who are nourished by the Body of Christ and are part of the great family of God. United, we are all the same family; therefore, we pray for one another.”
Blessing our children
The Bishop of Rome went on to note a few particular ways to pray for each other, mentioning the “mothers and fathers who bless their children in the morning and the evening. There is still this habit in some families: to bless a child is a prayer.”
He also spoke of praying for the sick when we go to visit them and the “silent intercession, sometimes with tears, of so many difficult situations for which to pray.” And of prayer of thanksgiving, “for good news concerning a friend, a relative, a colleague. […] This too is to pray for others! To thank the Lord when things go well.”
The Pope also recounted that at his residence, at the Casa Santa Marta, he had just yesterday received a visitor who told him about having to close his business due to insufficient finances, and how this person was concerned not so much for himself, but for leaving 50 families without work.
He was “a good Christian who prays with works: he came to Mass to pray that the Lord might give him a way out, not only for himself, but for the 50 families. This is a man who knows how to pray, with the heart and with the facts, he knows how to pray for his neighbor. He is in a difficult situation, and he does not look for the easiest way out […] It did me so much good to hear him!”
The Pope concluded saying that it is the Holy Spirit who prays in us.
“Therefore, let us open our hearts, so that the Holy Spirit, scrutinizing the desires that are deep inside us, is able to purify them and bring them to fulfilment. In any case, let us always ask for ourselves and for others that God’s Will be done, as in the Our Father, because His Will is certainly the greatest good, the goodness of a Father who never abandons us: to pray and to let the Holy Spirit pray in us. […] “Concluding these catecheses on mercy, let us commit ourselves to pray for one another so that the works of corporal and spiritual mercy become increasingly our style of life. The catecheses, as I said at the beginning, finish here. We went through the 14 works of mercy, but mercy continues and we must exercise it in these 14 ways.”
On ZENIT’s Web page:
Full text: https://zenit.org/articles/general-audience-on-burying-the-dead/