God of Infinite Mercy
'God of infinite mercy,We entrust to Your immense goodness all those who have left this world for eternity, where you await all humanity, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ Your Son, who died to save us from our sins.
Look not Lord, at our poverty, misery and human weaknesses when we present ourselves before You to be judged in happiness or condemned. Gaze upon us with pity, born of Your tender heart and help us to walk the path of purification.
May none of your children be lost to the eternal fires of hell, where repentance is no more.
We entrust to You Lord, the souls of our beloved departed, of those who died without the comfort of the Sacraments or who did not have the opportunity to repent, not even at the end of their life. May no one fear the encounter with You at the end of their earthly pilgrimage, in the hope of being welcomed within the embrace of your infinite mercy. May sister death find us in prayerful vigilance, and full of all the good we have done during our existence, be it long or short.
Lord, may nothing distance us from you on this earth, may everything and everyone support us in our ardent hope to serenely and eternally rest in You.
This prayer of Pope Francis for All Souls Day is full of beautiful sentiments but there are sentiments and there is Catholic doctrine. Problematic, for example, is the general depiction of God as 'infinitely merciful' with no conditions at all. We are taught that God's mercies are infinite, but these mercies must be sought. God is infinitely merciful to those who ask for His mercy. Every time we run to Christ with our sins, if we are sorry and want to change, Christ will take us back. God's judgments of the dead are secret, we cannot know them, but likewise it is problematic to pray that God will be merciful to those who die unrepentant in mortal sin. We can pray for everyone, because we do not know people's hearts right to the moment when they die. God knows that. We do not.
So, while I am happy to pray for everyone and anyone, most especially the Faithful departed, I cannot as a Catholic pray for the wicked unrepentant. That would be contrary to Catholic teaching on God's mercy. I cannot know God's judgement of a person, but likewise I cannot pray that God will rape the unwilling into Heaven if, for example, these souls die in a State that is fixed for eternity against God and His Holy Name. God is not just a 'God of infinite mercy' but also a God of infinite justice. His Justice and His Mercy do not cancel each other out. I also find it rather worrying that any theology of Purgatory has been removed from this prayer.
'May none of your children be lost to the eternal fires of hell, where repentance is no more.' This sounds very Catholic, because nobody wants any of God's children to damn their souls, but it becomes less Catholic when the Pope prays for 'those who...did not have the opportunity to repent, not even at the end of their life.' Aside from the unborn, who we can happily entrust to God's infinite mercy while they are being massacred by abortionists in their mother's wombs, who above the age of reason does not have 'opportunity to repent'?
I suppose if I was in mortal sin on holiday and the plane exploded with me on it, 'before I had time to repent' I'd be wishing for God's mercy after my death. Unfortunately, it is possible that for my immortal soul, my will, fixed for all eternity, was set against Christ and I might very well go to Hell for all eternity and I couldn't blame Jesus Christ, but only myself for not taking the opportunity to repent. Of course, if I had time to say an Act of Contrition on the way down to the sea, it may end more happily, but my Salvation really would depend on my response, at the last, to the 'infinite mercies' of God.
I hope this doesn't sound too pedantic or cruel. In many ways it is a very lovely prayer, but our theology of death and the last things is incredibly important. How we die, in what state, is incredibly important and we can pray for all human beings who have died, because we do not know the State of their souls in the eyes of God. We cannot, however, pray that those who damn themselves through impenitence will be saved. We can pray for just about anyone. We cannot ask God to over-ride the free choices made by His creatures should His creatures choose eternal separation from Him where 'repentance is no more'. That may sound horrid, but actually God does respect our freedom, even if He does not respect all of our decisions. I hope that readers will not believe that I am impugning things to His Holiness which are not there. A Pope who believed in a universal Salvation would be a Pope who may very well lead countless souls to Hell for why would they repent, if they had no fear of the Lord at all?
'May no one fear the encounter with You at the end of their earthly pilgrimage, in the hope of being welcomed within the embrace of your infinite mercy.'
'The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.' ~ Proverbs 9-10.
'And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.' Luke 1:50
'Nobody comes to the Father, except through me.' Gospel of St John, 14:6