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Prayers For Souls in Hell.

Prayers for Souls who are in hell.

The issue of praying for souls who are in hell is an emotive subject especially when one considers all of the implications, as one must do, sooner or later, and very much when one thinks of family, loved ones, and for all relatives(known or unknown) past and present, and friends, colleagues and indeed for all who have died.

Poor souls in hell are in great need.

In the Early centuries of the Church:

St Basil the Great [329-379] in his Third Kneeling Prayer of Pentecost wrote very humbly, and also, as would seem, expectantly:

"O Christ our God...(who) on this all perfect and saving Feast, art
graciously pleased to account propitiatory prayers for those who are
imprisoned in hades, promising unto us who are held in bondage great
hope of release from the vileness that doth hinder us and did hinder
them ...send down Thy consolation...and establish their souls in the
mansions of the Just; and graciously vouchsafe unto them peace and
pardon; for not the dead shall praise thee, O Lord, neither shall they who
are in hell make bold to offer unto thee confession. But we who are living
will bless them, and will pray, and offer unto thee propitiatory prayers and
sacrifices for their souls."

And an ancient homily of the Church for Easter Saturday,
is as follows:

"He who is their God and the Son of Eve...'I am your God, who for your
sake have become your Son....I order you, O Sleeper, to awake. I did not
create you to be a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of
the dead."
(This is in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (para 635)

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There is an extended chapter in the Book (Genesis III:XV The Finale And The Second Coming Of Christ) on the reality of hell and with a special focus on the complex reasons as to why the Church gradually moved (drifted) away from praying for souls who are in hell. In the early centuries certainly the Church recognized that souls in hell were prayed for by many in the Church. And there is still an enduring Catholic tradition that souls in hell can be "plucked out of the fire." And the day most associated with this is a Saturday; the day Our Lord descended to the dead.

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