Pray for the Living and the Dead

Online Lesson:

These online lessons may be used:
• by individuals anytime, anywhere.
• in group settings — families, faith sharing groups, faith formation programs, and schools.
• in “flipped” classroom situations for people to view before meeting face to face.
You may just want to use a suggested video, story, or question — in anyway that helps us recognize that God’s mercy is anytime, anywhere, and we are called to be merciful as well.

The structure of the lesson is based on Msgr. Francis Kelly’s Ecclesial Method.

Step 1 – Preparation: Each lesson will begin with a video and prayer to help us focus on the Works of Mercy in General.

Works of Mercy Reflection:

Describe something done for you that seemed small to the one who did it,
but meant so much to you. Imagine something small you did out of love.
Describe how it could have meant a great deal more to the person you did it for.


Gracious God,

You are Trinity, one God who is relationship and is active love.

You call us, Your children, to be in relationship with You and with each other.

Instill in us a desire to pray for each other, living and dead, with a heart that transcends time and place, so that we may become the communion of saints You call us to be.

We pray this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Step 2 – Proclamation: Each lesson will repeat the Works of Mercy to help us remember them.

The Spiritual Works of Mercy:

The Spiritual Works of mercy are acts of compassion, as listed below, by which we help our neighbors with their emotional and spiritual needs.

Counsel the doubtful
Instruct the ignorant
Admonish sinners
Comfort the afflicted
Forgive all offenses/injury
Bear wrongs patiently
Pray for the living and the dead

The Corporal Works of Mercy:

The Corporal Works of mercy are these kind acts by which we help our neighbors with their material and physical needs.

Shelter the homeless/Welcome the stranger
Feed the hungry
Give drink to the thirsty
Clothe the naked
Visit the sick
Visit the imprisoned
Bury the dead

Step 3 – Explanation: This step will address a specific Work of Mercy.

This Month: Pray for the Living and the Dead

I. What is Prayer?

Imagine, millenia ago, a group of professional priests standing far back from their nation’s army in fierce combat, reciting prayers to their gods over and over again. They were pleading for victory on the battlefield. If their side was winning, they knew that they had the correct words… and thus the attention of their gods. If their side was losing, they changed the formulas they were reciting, because obviously they had it wrong. They would continue ‘praying’ in this fashion until the battle was over.

Sometimes we do the same thing. We pray words over and over until our objective is attained. Jesus said,

In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. – Matthew 6:7

Someone once said that prayer is not about changing God [to do what we want] but to change ourselves [to love God and others better]. The former is magic, the latter is relationship. Prayer is being in relationship with God. Prayer is being aware of God. Prayer is talking to, thanking, and listening to God. An example of ‘praying for the living and the dead’ is to pray the news, as shared by Kathy Langer in the Saint Cloud Visitor.

II. Praying for Others, Living and Dead

When we pray for others, we ponder how we can help them with their needs. Often we cannot do anything to help physically, but praying helps us to become more attentive and compassionate to other people, even those we haven’t met. Such a mystery!

God is love, and when we embrace love, we become God’s communion of saints. This communion transcends place, and it transcends time. It is all about making the Reign of God more real in our hearts, creates a deeper awareness of God’s loving activity, and reminds us to respond with our lives.

To pray for the living and the dead is to become part of the unending stream of divine Mercy. – Fr. Frank DeSiano, CSP, August 2016 Evangelization Exchange.

Step 4 – Application and Appropriation into Life is the bridge between head knowledge and daily living as a disciple of Christ.

Faith in Action

Reflection Questions:

What does prayer mean to you? Is it really important? Why?

Describe a peak experience you’ve had with prayer.

What does it mean to have a dry period in your prayer life?

Is prayer a good thing to do even if you feel tired, dry and ineffective? Why or why not?

Can a person pray by simply directing every thought to God? For example, rather than thinking about having a piece of fruit, think, “I think, God, that I will have this piece of fruit.” Will that help one become more in tune with our God who is active all the time, everywhere, even in the ordinariness of being grateful for a piece of fruit?

Describe a positive experience you’ve had in praying for another. How has the world become better because of it?

Describe a positive experience you’ve had in praying for someone who has passed away. How did this help build up the communion of saints?

Suggested Activities (add your suggestions below):


  • Pray together as a family for family members
  • Pray for those grieving a loss of a loved one
  • Pray for those who are hurting in some way
  • Resources for prayer

Parish and School:

  • Pass a candle. As the candle is held by each participant, s/he can say a prayer audibly or silently, and the pass the candle to the next
  • Take a newspaper and have different people pray for/about the issues/people in the news
  • Patriotic Rosary  – for each Hail Mary pray for each state in the United States
  • Quiet time with guided meditation (example at Ave Maria Press’s Thanksgiving Guided Meditation)

Step 5 – Celebration: Lessons will close with a prayer, silent or communally, that gives glory to God.

Closing Prayer:

God of Peace,

You call us all to holiness, to be the People you have created us to be. Make us compassionate to the needs of each other and attentive to the gifts we bring to each other. Inspire us to do our part to make your Reign present on earth. We ask you this as we pray the words Your Son gave to us:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread;

and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us;

and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.


In the “Leave a Reply” area below, please suggest another activity that addresses this Work of Mercy, or share a story about it.


Author: Kristi Anderson

Kristi Anderson is the editor of The Central Minnesota Catholic Magazine for the Diocese of St. Cloud.

Leave a Reply