A while ago I raised of whether the dead aren’t asleep and why we call them that (i.e. “asleep”) in various prayers.
I personally now believe firmly in the doctrine of purgatory, but that still leaves me without an explanation for the many references in the liturgy (not only the Eucharistic Prayer but also the prayers of the faithful and the intercessions that are part of Vespers) to the dead as “those who are asleep”.
One possible explanation offered by other posters was that the notion of sleep applies only to the bodies of the dead, not to their souls. I don’t think this is satisfactory, as this qualification isn’t stated anywhere (while it easily could be if that was what was intended: “those whose bodies have fallen asleep”). Furthermore it seems strange that as Christians we would refer to the dead with phraseology that applies only to their bodies (i.e. corpses) when praying for them, while surely it is the salvation of their souls that we care for.
I admit that the incongruency I see (perhaps mistakenly) between the liturgy and the church’s doctrine of purgatory has not stopped bothering me. If we care for the souls of the dead and believe they are in purgatory, why does our liturgy so often refer to the dead as “asleep” (and surprisingly, never as “those in purgatory”)? I emphasize: I am not questioning the doctrine of purgatory. I am asking how to reconcile the liturgy with the doctrine.
Could you please comment on this?