In the United States, we have a beautiful federal holiday called Memorial Day. On this day, we remember all of the men and women who have died while serving in the United States Armed Services. It dates back all the way to the Civil War. Decoration Day honored both Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War.
Catholics have a similar, but more important celebration called All Souls Day. We not only remember our faithful departed, we pray for them. This special celebration is a reminder of our mortality. Our weak human nature is in need of God’s loving mercy even in death.
At the moment of death, we stand before Almighty God for our particular judgment. The dead immediately receive their eternal reward from the just judge. The perfectly pure souls are admitted to the beatific vision and enter the joy of the saints. Those that have left this life in mortal sin, or original sin go to eternal punishment. And the souls that die in venial sin receive their necessary purification before they can enter the beatific vision.
All Souls Day is a great sign of the mercy of God. Souls tainted with venial sin escape eternal punishment and are guaranteed eternal glory after passing through the purifying love of purgatory. The living are reminded to pray for their deceased loved ones, friends and all of the faithful departed. All are reminded that, we will face the eternal Judge when our eyes are closed to this world.
However, it is not just about a special day, or special month to pray for the poor souls. All Souls Day and November are about creating a habit of prayer for the faithful departed. How often do you say a prayer when passing a cemetery or funeral home? A parishioner told me of her grandmother who, every time she passed by a funeral home would drop in to say a prayer for the souls who happen to be there that day. What a wonderful woman she must have been!
Each time we pray for the souls in purgatory, we can be assured of an eternal friendship. In the hymn “For All The Saints,” there is one verse that I particularly love.
O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
Yet all are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Many souls are waiting that gift of eternal glory, but the souls in purgatory are certain of life forever in heaven. We are part of a “communion,” a “fellowship,” striving to help one another. “We feebly struggle,” yet we are not alone. Our brethren in the Kingdom and those on the way assist us with their prayers.
Let us never forget the Souls in Purgatory, for they can no longer help themselves!
Introit from the Mass for the dead:
|Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine.
Et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Te decet hymnus, Deus, in Sion,
Et tibi reddetur votum in Jerusalem
Exaudi orationem meam
Ad te omnis caro veniet.
Requiem aeternam dona defunctis, Domine.
|Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord
And let perpetual light shine upon them
A hymn, O God, becometh Thee in Zion
And a vow shall be paid to thee in Jerusalem
Hear my prayer
All flesh shall come before you
Eternal rest give unto the dead, O Lord