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Scott P. Richert

Praying for the Dead: A Good Lenten Practice

By March 15, 2014

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Roman Catholics usually associate prayer for the dead with November, the Month of the Holy Souls in Purgatory, when we celebrate All Saints Day and All Souls Day. But in Eastern Rite Catholic churches and in the Eastern Orthodox Church, Christians celebrate five All Souls Saturdays (or Holy Souls Saturdays). These All Souls Saturdays fall on the Saturday after Meatfare Sunday (for more information on Meatfare Sunday, see Sometimes, 40 Days Is Not Enough); the second, third, and fourth Saturdays of Great Lent (as Eastern Christians refer to Lent); and the Saturday before Pentecost Sunday. For Eastern Catholics who calculate Easter according to the Gregorian calendar, the dates of the All Souls Saturdays in 2014 are March 1, March 15, March 22, March 29, and June 7; for Eastern Orthodox Christians who use the Julian calendar to determine the date of Easter, the 2014 All Souls Saturdays fall on the same days, because in 2014, the Julian date of Easter is April 7, which is the same day as April 20 Gregorian.

In 2007, the newspaper of the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois, ran an interesting story on the All Souls Saturdays, which offered some suggestions for ways in which Roman Catholics can integrate this Eastern Christian practice into their Lenten discipline. One good way is to learn some traditional prayers for the faithful departed and pray them frequently during Lent.

Weekly Prayers for the Dead:

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February 24, 2013 at 9:39 am
(1) Prayer Request says:

I honestly did not know that praying for the dead is a Roman Catholic practice. As you’ve described, it’s a beautiful testimony to that faith. Thanks–I learned something new and valuable today!

March 18, 2014 at 11:37 am
(2) Renier says:

Please could you check the dates for 2014 as they do not seem to be correct?

March 19, 2014 at 6:49 am
(3) Scott P. Richert says:

Thanks, Renier, for catching this. I had updated the dates for 2014, but for some reason they reverted to the 2013 dates when the post when live.

March 18, 2014 at 11:39 am
(4) Renier says:

If my calculations are correct the dates are March 1st, March 15th, March 22nd, March 29th and June 7th?

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