When can we stop praying for a deceased person?

As Catholics, we know the importance of praying for the living and the dead. In fact, to do so is a spiritual work of mercy. We pray for the repose of the souls of our departed loved ones because we cannot know for sure whether or not they are in heaven. If they are a Holy Soul in purgatory (a state of purification before entering heaven), they are in need of our prayers. But for how long after their death must we continue to pray for them?

“When can we stop praying for someone who is deceased and then pray to them to intercede? When can we hope that they’re already in heaven and we don’t have to pray for them to get there anymore?” wondered Timothy in Los Angeles.

“I think you can do both at once, you never know. I would never stop praying for someone and the idea is that to pray for the dead is to love them and love is never wasted. The dear nuns would say, well God can use those prayers elsewhere, and I suppose that’s one way of putting it! But we never know unless there’s a formal canonization and then we would believe it to be so,” responded Fr. Richard Simon, host of Father Simon SaysTM on Relevant Radio®.

Can our loved ones in purgatory intercede for us? “There’s different theories. One theory is that the Holy Souls in Purgatory cannot pray for anyone. The other theory is, yes we pray for them and they pray for us. They can’t pray for themselves but they can pray for others. So I would say, you can ask your loved ones to intercede for you even if they are not yet in the fullness of the beatific vision, which is a fancy way of saying ‘they ain’t made it yet completely,’” said Fr. Simon.

Prayer for a Holy Soul

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon them. And may the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Lindsey is a wife, mother, and contributing author at Relevant Radio. She holds a degree in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Lindsey enjoys writing, baking, and liturgical living with her young family.