Q. 1. The Catholic Church teaches that we should pray for the dead. I know someone who recently died. He was a very evil person, abusive and an alcoholic. Why should I waste my prayers for him when they would be more beneficial for the souls that are most in need?
A. 1. My dear child, you are assuming that this soul is already loss, pronouncing a final judgment on him. How do you know that he did not have a change of heart at the last minute? How do you know that he did not ask God's forgiveness? How do you know if he did not receive the Sacrament of Confession in the privacy of his home?
For a soul to be lost, it must die in a state of mortal sin. To commit a mortal sin, three conditions must exist at the same time. They are:
1. It must be of a grave matter;
2. It must be committed with full knowledge that it is a mortal sin;
3. It must be committed with full consent. [Full consent means to do it "voluntarily."] (C.C.C. # 1857)
God, being the only One who knows the heart of an individual, is the Judge of these conditions, determining if they were all present at the same time.
Assuming that this person had a change of heart and that he is in purgatory, in need of prayers, will you deny him the right to much needed prayers that will open the heavenly door to him? Let us not judge the dead! "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." [Matthew 7:2]