Catholic Prayers about Death
Is death getting too close for you or for a loved one? These prayers about death can help bring you strength at the time you need it most! Although Jesus spoke of our sharing Eternal Life with Him if we have faith and keep His commandments, His wonderful promise of Heaven may seem like some vague dream when you or a family member are suddenly facing end-of-life questions and concerns. Can we trust in God to see us through these last days or hours? Is there really an afterlife?
Our pains and sufferings can still keep us from seeing the bigger picture, that God values each and every soul enough to have died for us Himself so that we might have a place in Heaven with Him, as depicted in this painting above. We offer some prayers in this section to help you stay focused on Eternity in your troubled and trying times.
These include various prayers for the dying, a prayer for a departing soul, aspirations (short prayers)for the dying, prayers for the deceased, a litany for the dying and prayers for a happy death.
This last category might seem a little strange to some of you at first. “Death” and “happy” are two words that don’t often go together, after all! What we’re referring to here is being able to die peacefully and in a state of grace.
The importance of prayer as an important part of this is seen also in theHail Mary where we pray “Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen!”
Think also of the moving appeal made to Jesus in the famous Anima Christi prayer: “In the hour of my death call me. And bid me come unto Thee, that with all Thy saints, I may praise thee, forever and ever. Amen.”
As discussed here, our Lord never promised that this life would be easy for any of us in on our Earthly journey. It certainly wasn’t for Jesus. The picture above of Christ in His Tomb after His Passion attests to that!
As we pray in the Hail Holy Queen, our time here on earth is “our exile” (as in banishment from Paradise) and a “vale of tears” for most of us at one time or another. And yet, while we are here but an instant in relation to Eternity, our conduct in this life determines our Eternal destiny nonetheless!
We’ve also included here some prayers for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, a vital aspect of praying for the souls of the dead, for those who have been saved from Hell (which we must remember does indeed exist!) but are not quite ready for Heaven. After all, we should never take our salvation for granted.
Praying for the souls of the departed is quite proper, and Biblical, in any case. As we read in the famous quote from the book of Maccabees in the Old Testament it is “a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins” (2 Macabees 12:46).
It is a tragic temptation in moments of crisis, such as when a spouse or child is taken from us in pain after a long bout with cancer, for example, to want to turn away from God, or worse, to turn against Him completely, as if to say perhaps, as Mary said to our Lord at her brother Lazarus’ death “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:32).
Or perhaps our grief at the approaching death of a loved one keeps us for attending to their needs properly. We have these prayers against despondency that might help!
What’s worth keeping in mind when facing death is that, as St. Paul tells us, Christ conquered death for us in His Passion (Rom 6:8; 1 Cor 15:20-26). His Resurrection, foretells ours as well at the Final Judgment when our souls will be united with our Glorified bodies, which will not be subject to decay and the corruption of our earthly concupiscent desires (1 Cor 15:51-53)
As St. Paul once wrote “Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is thy victory? Where, O death, is thy sting?” (1 Cor 15:55)
The Paschal mystery gives us the glorious hope that each of us can experience an Easter Sunday following our particular Good Friday. We have the hope of Eternal Life not only in spirit but in body as well! (And with a body that won’t break down or give us earthly vexations and temptations.)
Still, it is important to note in presenting these various prayers about death to keep in mind just how fragile our last moments can be, spiritually as well as physically. We can hope for salvation, but as we touched on earlier in mentioning Purgatory and Hell, we should not justassume that either we or our loved ones will be in Heaven with Jesus immediately upon dying.
These prayers along with those prayers from a priest at the Anointing of the Sick, (what used to be called the Last Rites, or Extreme Unction), can make all the difference for one’s Eternity!
Prayers about death have two valuable effects: First: they can help souls make a smoother transition to Eternal Life with God in Heaven, either shortening, or perhaps even eliminating, whatever Purgatory they might have needed. (Such prayers might even save the more immoral among us from Hell!)
Second: They can bring comfort and strength for those who mourn for the dead and dying, either by their bedside or graveside. We hope these prayers can give you the grace you need to cope with death and the trying situations that accompany it!
Disclaimer: Use of the information and data is to bring awareness of death and dying. Spirare does not own the information or profit from its use. Source: Catholic Prayers
There are many Bible verses about death found throughout the Scriptures. What does the Bible teach us about the nature of dying and the afterlife?
We have focused on those passages that convey the most meaning for either individual study or sermon preparation. These quotes about death explore the very nature of death, what happens after someone dies, and the relationship that death has with this life.
There are enough significant verses here to get you started in understanding what God has to say about death.
If you are looking specifically for scripture for funeral readings or obituaries, please see these Bible Verses for Funerals.
Scripture About Death
“And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.”
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
“When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.”
“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned””
“For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten.”
“If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my service I would wait, till my renewal should come.”
“For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.”
“For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.”
“They are dead, they will not live; they are shades, they will not arise; to that end you have visited them with destruction and wiped out all remembrance of them.”
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
“and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
“Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”
“And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, ”
“As he came from his mother’s womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil that he may carry away in his hand.”
“When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.”
“For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
“The dead do not praise the Lord, nor do any who go down into silence.”
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Rejoice! Check out these 50 inspirational bible verse pictures →
What do these bible verses teach us about death?
These death Bible verses really stress the finality of death and how our ability to act in this world ceases once we pass on to the other side. Whatever we are going to do in this world, we need to do now before we die. The quotes about dying make it clear that death came to all of us because of the sin of Adam and that when we die, our body will return to the dust from which we were made.
The passages further stress that we came into the world naked without anything and that we will leave the same way.
Though death of the body is final, it is not the end of hope in the afterlife. One verse about death above tells us there is a judgment sometime after death. And we are told in the Bible that Christians will be with the Lord upon death and that we will have the promise of eternal life.
Add a Bible Verse or Comment
Therefore, we see panikhidas and prayer at home for the dead are beneficial for them, as are good deeds done in their memory, such as alms or contributions to the church. But especially beneficial for them is commemoration at the Divine Liturgy. There have been many appearances of the dead and other occurrences which confirm how beneficial is the commemoration of the dead. Many who died in repentance, but who were unable to manifest this while they were alive, have been freed from tortures and have obtained repose.
How important commemoration at the Liturgy is may be seen in the following occurrence: Before the uncovering of the relics of St. Theodosius of Chernigov (1896), the priest-monk (the renowned Starets Alexis of Goloseyevsky Hermitage, of the Kiev-Caves Lavra, who died in 1916) who was conducting the re-vesting of the relics, becoming weary while sitting by the relics, dozed off and saw before him the Saint, who told him: “I thank you for laboring me. I beg you also, when you will serve the Liturgy, to commemorate my parents”—and be gave their names (Priest Nikita and Maria).** “How can you, O Saint, ask my prayers, when you yourself stand at the heavenly Throne and grant to people God’s mercy?” the priest-monk asked. “Yes, that is true,” replied St. Theodosius, “but the offering at the Liturgy is more powerful than my prayer.”
Therefore, we see panikhidas and prayer at home for the dead are beneficial for them, as are good deeds done in their memory, such as alms or contributions to the church. But especially beneficial for them is commemoration at the Divine Liturgy. There have been many appearances of the dead and other occurrences which confirm how beneficial is the commemoration of the dead. Many who died in repentance, but who were unable to manifest this while they were alive, have been freed from tortures and have obtained repose. In the Church, prayers are ever offered for the repose of the dead, and on the day of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, in the kneeling prayers at vespers, there is even a special petition “for those in hell.”
St. Gregory the Great, in answering in his Dialogues the question, “Is there anything at all that can possibly benefit souls after death?” teaches: “The Holy Sacrifice of Christ, our saving Victim, brings great benefits to souls even after death, provided their sins (are such as) can be pardoned in the life to come. For this reason the souls of the dead sometimes beg to have Liturgies offered for them … The safer course, naturally, is to do for ourselves during life what we hope others will do for us after death. It is better to make one’s exit a free man than to seek liberty after one is in chains. We should, therefore, despise this world with all our hearts as though its glory were already spent, and offer our sacrifice of tears to God each day as we immolate His sacred Flesh and Blood. This Sacrifice alone has the power of saving the soul from eternal death, for it presents to us mystically the death of the Only-begotten Son” (Dialogues IV: 57, 60, pp. 266, 272-3).
St. Gregory gives several examples of the dead appearing to the living and asking for or thanking them for the celebration of the Liturgy for their repose; once, also, a captive whom his wife believed dead and for whom she had the Liturgy celebrated on certain days, returned from captivity and told her how he had been released from his chains on some days—the very days when the Liturgy had been offered for him. (Dialogues IV: 57, 59, pp. 267, 270).
Protestant theologians find the Church’s prayer for the dead to be somehow incompatible with the necessity of finding salvation first of all in this life: “If you can be saved by the Church after death, then why bother to struggle or find faith in this Life? Let us eat, drink, and be merry…” Of course, no one holding such a philosophy has ever attained salvation by the Church’s prayers, and it is evident that such an argument is quite artificial and even hypocritical. The Church’s prayer cannot save anyone who does not wish salvation, or who never offered any struggle for it himself during his lifetime. In a sense, one might say that the prayer of the Church or of individual Christians for a dead person is but another result of that person’s life: he would not be prayed for unless he had done something during his lifetime to inspire such prayer after his death.
St. Mark of Ephesus also discusses this question of the Church’s prayer for the dead and the improvement it brings in their state, citing the example of the prayer of St. Gregory the Dialogist for the Roman Emperor Trajan—a prayer inspired by a good deed of this pagan Emperor.
**These names had been unknown before this vision. Several years after the canonization, St. Theodosius’ own Book of Commemoration was found in the monastery where he had once been Abbot, which confirmed these names and corroborated the vision. See the Life of Elder Alexis in Pravoslavny Blagovestnik, San Francisco, 1967, No. I (in Russian).
Excerpt from The Soul after Death by Fr. Seraphim Rose
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