Losing a loved one is a painful experience. The one comfort that many cling on to is the knowledge that their deceased loved one is in the arms of the Father and free from earthly sufferings. The emotional discomfort is so great that can only be soothed by embracing faith and religious traditions. These provide healing to the ones left behind, as sure as it comforts those who have passed on as well.
Prayers for the dead are a traditional part of Roman Catholicism and Early Christianity. In fact, these were done to pray for souls who have departed with faith. These were also done to ensure the peaceful entrance into Heaven of loved ones who have passed on without bearing significant fruits to warrant repentance. The main purpose of the memorial prayer or prayers for departed loved ones is to ensure that they do not enter purgatory and enjoy the comforts of Heaven.
One of the earliest inscriptions that resemble a modern memorial prayer is the inscription on the tomb of Abercius of Hieropolis, found in Phyrgia (late 2nd century). The inscription states "Let every friend who observes this pray for me."
Many early Roman catacombs bear inscriptions like "Mayst thou live among saints", "May God refresh this soul" or "Peace be with them." These are some of the earliest nods towards present-day memorial prayers.
Tertullian was one of the earliest church writers to mention the memorial prayer, not because it was for natural sentiments but because he said it was a need, a duty to a loved one. St. Augustine also made this practice popular, with a prayer for Monica, his mother, at the end of the 9th book of Confessions, which he authored in 398.
In modern times, the memorial prayer is ubiquitous in any funeral service. It has become a way to soothe those who are coping with a loss of a loved one. They take comfort in the fact that their departed relative will enjoy the wonder that is Heaven, knowing that their prayers will reach the heavens and provide the deceased with a sense of peace. It also assures them that their loved ones in the afterlife will be assured that they are not forgotten and are being prayed for.
Memorial prayers are a nod to tradition and spirituality. Yes, these are catered towards the living too, as those who have passed on now enjoy eternal peace with the Creator.
The Cenacle Sisters offer memorial prayers for families who have lost their loved ones. They believe that it is a healing service for those who are grieving and provides them with a chance to reach out to their departed relative, in the form of prayer.
Aside from prayer requests and enrollments, they offer other spiritual services, which include spiritual direction, retreats and programs that help people of all ages reconnect with their faith. If you are looking for programs to help you replenish your spiritual thirst or guidance and prayer, you can contact the Cenacle Sisters at 773-528-6300.