The Church’s celebrations of All Saints Nov. 1 and All Souls the following day lead the month that is traditionally known as the month of the holy souls.

Prayer for the dead is not, in the Catholic tradition, a morbid practice but a remembrance of the dead by us, their brothers and sisters this side of heaven. We pray for deceased loved ones especially during the anniversary of their death or their birthday.

Catholics also pray for loved ones during the Mass. In Eucharistic Prayer I, the priest prays: “Remember, Lord, those who have died and gone before us marked with the sign of faith, especially those for whom we now pray.” {{more}}

In this way we pray for their souls and their rest with almighty God forever.

But there are more souls than just the family and friends who have “gone before us.” That part of the prayer concludes: “May these, and all who sleep in Christ, find in your presence light, happiness and peace.”

Another Catholic tradition is to pray during this month, beginning with All Souls Day, for the “poor souls,” those we may never have met and who have no one to pray for them.

Prayers for them are beneficial not only for the person being prayed for – and what greater intention is there than for a soul to spend eternity with God? – but also for the one offering the prayer.

Such prayers remind us of the concept of the communion of saints, in whose company are not only our loved ones but all the people whom Jesus has brought into the Father’s house.

This month the Catholic Standard and Times will publish articles examining the topic of Christian death. Some focus on practical matters such as the disposition of the body (cremation and burial). Others explore the spiritual preparation for death and reflection on it.

In November readers are also recommended to pray for the subjects of obituaries and the “In Loving Memory” column in the newspaper.

A fitting prayer for all souls during this month might be the following from Eucharistic Prayer III of the Mass:

“Welcome into your kingdom our departed brothers and sisters, and all who have left this world in your friendship. There we hope to share in your glory when every tear will be wiped away. On that day we shall see you, our God, as you are. We shall become like you and praise you forever through Christ our Lord, from whom all good things come.”