PRAYERS FOR THE DYING

Each of these prayers for the dying covers the subject from a different perspective. The first two remind us of the importance of keeping our souls as clean as possible on our earthly pilgrimage. They bring up the prospect of death, regardless of the circumstances, as an experience for which we will all need our Lord’s compassion!

The subject of cleanliness of soul clearly plays a part here as well. The first prayer reminds one of the line in scripture in the book of Revelation about the great multitude in St. John’s vision whose robes have been made white “in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev 7:14; the Lamb being the famous symbol of Jesus Christ).

This first prayer is also known as a “Prayer for Those in Their Last Agony”:

O most merciful Jesus, Lover of souls, I pray Thee, by the agony of Thy most Sacred Heart, and by the sorrows of Thy Immaculate Mother, cleanse in Thine Own Blood the sinners of the whole world who are now in their agony and to die this day. Amen.

Heart of Jesus, once in agony, pity on the dying.

The second of these prayers for the dying teach of the importance of being cleansed of all stain of sin before entering heaven, which ties in well with the doctrine of purgatory as a cleansing of souls from whose sins have been forgiven but not yet fully expiated.

Almighty and merciful God, who hast bestowed upon mankind saving remedies and the gift of everlasting life, look graciously upon us Thy servants and comfort the souls which Thou hast made, that, in the hour of their passing, cleansed from all stain of sin, they may deserve to be presented to Thee, their Creator, by the hands of the holy angels. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

In this one below the author makes reference to the importance of a priest giving the dying their last communion before death, also called viaticum, (which means “food for the journey”).

Remember, also, most merciful and loving Father, all who are sick and dying, and grant that in the solitude of suffering each may truly “come to himself,” and like the Prodigal of the Gospel may at last discover Thy love and return to a Father’s heart. That most bountiful Heart has given them joy of life and youth, hope and desire; and from it all good and pleasant things, all enduring comfort and true delight, descend in copious benediction. Feed them before they die with the Body and Blood of Thy beloved Son, that nothing may be wanting to Thy love nor to their eternal beatitude. Amen,

And finally we have this “Prayer to St. Joseph for the Dying” which enlists the support of the Trinity as well as St. Joseph, our Lord’s foster father, whose vast patronage includes that of a happy death.

Everlasting Father, for the sake of the love which Thou didst bear to St. Joseph, whom Thou didst chose above all to occupy Thy place on earth, Have mercy on us and on those who are dying.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, etc.

Everlasting Son of God, for the sake of Thy love towards St. Joseph, who didst protect Thee so faithfully on earth, have mercy on us all and on those who are dying.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, etc.

Everlasting Divine Spirit, for the sake of Thy love toward St. Joseph, who so carefully protected Mary, Thy most holy and beloved spouse, have mercy on us and those who are dying.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, etc.

A common thread in all of these prayers for the dying is the request for God’s assistance and mercy. The closer we are to God in this life, in the way we live and partake of His sacraments and follow His Commandments, the more we may die assured of being with Him forever in the next! As St. Thomas Aquinas once wrote, “to this eternal life may we be led by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is God forever and ever.”


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