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It is a long Catholic tradition to pray for the dead throughout the year but especially in the month of November.
Praying for the Dead is based on the Scriptures and on the Apostles’ Creed: “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.”
Catholic Theology tells us that the Church is made up of three parts: the Church Militant (those of us alive on earth and “fighting” the good fight of faith), the Church Triumphant (our brothers and sisters who have died and are now reigning with Christ in glory) and the Church Suffering (our brothers and sisters who have died and are in purgatory awaiting their entry into the glory of heaven).
Here in Africa Christians are concerned about those who have died. It is believed that although they have left us, the dead, especially the recent dead, still care for the living. We believe that in Christ we are still connected with those we loved and who cared for us.
A recent book published in Zambia called Unseen Worlds by Father Bernhard Udelhoven (FENZA – Lusaka) explores our relationship with those who have died from the point of view of faith. If people dream about those who have died or have troublesome memories about them, it is suggested that such disturbances can be seen as an invitation to the living to pray for the dead and to seek reconciliation and healing among the living.
Father Charles Searson SJ
Apostleship of Prayer Lusaka, Zambia