\”Many are dismayed at the thought of praying for the dead. Can the destiny of the dead be changed if one prays for them?\”
If you believe that prayers for the living are a help to them, why should you not pray for the dead? Life is one, for as St. Luke says: \”He is not the God of the dead but of the living\”(20:38). Death is not the end but a stage in the destiny of man, and this destiny is not petrified at the moment of death. The love which our prayer expresses cannot be in vain; if love had power on earth and had no power after death it would tragically contradict the word of scripture that love is as strong as death (Song 8:6) and the experience of the Church that love is more powerful than death, because Christ has defeated death in his love for mankind.
It is an error to think that man s connection with love on earth ends with his death. In the course of one’s life one sows seeds. These seeds develop in the souls of other men and affect their destiny. The words written or spoken that change a human life or the destiny of mankind, as the words of preachers, philosophers, poets, or politicians, remain their authors responsibility, not only for evil but also for good; the authors destiny is bound to be affected by the way they have influenced those living after them. The life of every person continues to have repercussions until the last judgment, and man’s eternal and final destiny is determined not only by the short space of time he has lived on this earth but also by the results of his life by its good or evil consequences. Those who have received seed sown as in fertile ground, can influence the destiny of the departed by prayerfully beseeching God to bless the man who has transformed their lives, given a meaning to their existence. In turning to God in an act of enduring love, faithfulness and gratitude, they enter this eternal kingdom which transcends the limits of time, and they can influence the destiny and the situation of the departed. We do ask him merely to forgive a man in spite of what he has done but to bless him BECAUSE OF THE GOOD HE HAS DONE, to which other lives bear witness.