Q&A: What is “bounty”? (as in “which we are about to receive from Thy bounty”)? Secondly ( not so easy ) Why don’t the unfaithfully departed rest in peace through God’s Mercy ?

All questions come from parishioners of Sacred Heart Parish or St. Joseph Mission and they are presented to you anonymously. Questions and answers were presented in the Series “Because You Asked” from 2016.
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My daughters were here for a pancake dinner and joined me in praying grace (I was very surprised that they remembered the usual one ). My youngest asked me these two things; What is “bounty”? (as in “which we are about to receive from Thy bounty”)? Secondly ( not so easy )—Why don’t the unfaithfully departed rest in peace through God’s Mercy ? (We prayed “May the souls of the faithful departed, through the Mercy of God, rest in peace…”


The dictionary provides various definitions for the word bounty but the most applicable have to do with bounty as “something that is given generously/generosity”. God has provided humanity with a treasury and abundance of things for us to enjoy and make use of through His creation of the universe. When we say the classic Catholic meal blessing we are meant to remind ourselves of God’s generosity before we partake of it. Regarding the second point raised, this might be a more challenging reality to teach but I have always believed that if a young person has been able to ask a more challenging or mature question then they deserve a mature answer. In this case, we ask that the faithful departed rest in peace and not the unfaithful departed because we believe in immediate judgment upon death. According to Catholic understanding, upon death, each person will be made aware of their eternal destiny (either Heaven or Hell). In the case of Hell, that judgment is immediately experienced. If Heaven, the person either directly enters Heaven or does so after a process of purification (Purgatory) but in either case, their eternal home is equally certain. The short answer then to the question is that the unfaithful departed cannot rest in peace because God is the source of all peace and no prayer, therefore, will aid a damned soul. On the other hand, we do not know the state of anyone’s soul so I would urge you to tell your children to pray for all of the departed (“whose faith You alone have known”) in order that they may know God’s peace. By the way, the prayer which you apparently pray as a family is known as the prayer for the souls in purgatory. Souls in Heaven are already resting in peace and do not need our prayers either.

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