November 2, 2020 (All Souls Day)
Eternal rest grant unto them
Dear friends in Christ, today we celebrate All Souls Day, just after the Solemnity of All Saints. This day is set aside to honour all the dead with our prayers. In Catholic belief, when people die, there are three options open to each soul. The first is heaven, for those who have lived well and died in perfect state of holiness. The second is eternal damnation called hell, for those who by the choices they have made, merit eternal punishment. The third is purgatory — a state rather than a place, for the cleansing of sins for those who died in the state of lesser sins.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.” (CCC.1030-1031)
The Catechism also tells us that this is scriptural, “This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: “Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.”(2 Macc. 12:16) From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all, the Eucharistic sacrifice; so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.” (CCC 1032)
This celebration is not just about our faith, but also of our hope and ultimately of the mercy of God which is abundant. If Job’s sons were purified by the sacrifice of their father (Job 1:5) How much more the sacrifice of Christ, offered for the dead? God’s mercy follows us even in death, so that there is no excuse not to be saved. Apart from offering Masses for the dead, we take time off to visit the cemetery and to pray. A clear reminder that we all are sojourners in this world and just as they have returned to dust, so shall we someday. It is a reminder too, that we do the best we can while still alive because time waits for no one. In faith, on this day, and to counter the darkness and gloom of death, we light up the graves of our loved ones, for Christ is our light, who lightens the darkness of the world. He is the one who turns our sorrows and sadness into the new dawn of joy and happiness.
My dear friends, let us today, remember to say some prayers for our loved ones, who have gone before us. Our prayers in hope, will help attain mercy and pardon for them and bring them to the joys of heaven. Let us specially remember those who have died in recent times; in the violent clashes around the world, asking that they may have eternal peace and be freed from all their sins.
Let us pray: Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and Let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen. May the Almighty God bless you, the Father and the son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.