Blog Post - November 2nd

Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls Day)| Video and Prayers to Release Souls from Purgatory| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection

The Commemoration Of All The Faithful Departed (All Souls)

Both Calendars

The Church has encouraged prayers for the dead from the earliest times as an act of Christian charity. "If we had no care for the dead," Augustine noted, "we would not be in the habit of praying for them." Yet pre-Christian rites for the deceased retained such a strong hold on the superstitious imagination that a liturgical commemoration was not observed until the early Middle Ages, when monastic communities began to mark an annual day of prayer for the departed members.

In the middle of the 11th century, St. Odilo, abbot of Cluny (France), decreed that all Cluniac monasteries offer special prayers and sing the Office for the Dead on November 2, the day after the feast of All Saints. The custom spread from Cluny and was finally adopted throughout the Roman Church.

The theological underpinning of the feast is the acknowledgment of human frailty. Since few people achieve perfection in this life but, rather, go to the grave still scarred with traces of sinfulness, some period of purification seems necessary before a soul comes face-to-face with God. The Council of Trent affirmed this purgatory state and insisted that the prayers of the living can speed the process of purification.

Superstition easily clung to the observance. Medieval popular belief held that the souls in purgatory could appear on this day in the form of witches, toads or will-o’-the-wisps. Graveside food offerings supposedly eased the rest of the dead.

Observances of a more religious nature have survived. These include public processions or private visits to cemeteries and decorating graves with flowers and lights. This feast is observed with great fervor in Mexico.

COMMENT:

Whether or not one should pray for the dead is one of the great arguments which divide Christians. Appalled by the abuse of indulgences in the Church of his day, Martin Luther rejected the concept of purgatory. Yet prayer for a loved one is, for the believer, a way of erasing any distance, even death. In prayer we stand in God's presence in the company of someone we love, even if that person has gone before us into death.

QUOTE:

“We must not make purgatory into a flaming concentration camp on the brink of hell—or even a ‘hell for a short time.’ It is blasphemous to think of it as a place where a petty God exacts the last pound—or ounce—of flesh.... St. Catherine of Genoa, a mystic of the 15th century, wrote that the ‘fire’ of purgatory is God’s love ‘burning’ the soul so that, at last, the soul is wholly aflame. It is the pain of wanting to be made totally worthy of One who is seen as infinitely lovable, the pain of desire for union that is now absolutely assured, but not yet fully tasted” (Leonard Foley, O.F.M., Believing in Jesus).

Purgatory Prayers of S. Gertrude

November, the month dedicated to the Poor Souls in Purgatory

PRAYING FOR THE DEAD:

In II Maccabees 12:43-46:

"And making a gathering, he (Judas) sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection, (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead). And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them. It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins. "Those who've died in a state of grace are not truly "dead"; they are our beloved in Heaven or in Purgatory (on their way to Heaven) and will forever be, world without end, part of the Communion of Saints-- the Church Triumphant (the Saints in Heaven, whether or not they are beatified or canonized), the Church Suffering (the saints in Purgatory), and the Church Militant (the saints on earth).

Because we cannot know, aside from those the Church has beatified or canonized, who is already in Heaven, who is in Purgatory for a time, or who is damned, we pray for the dead for the rest of our lives -- assuming they are in Purgatory, while hoping they are in Heaven and not damned. We also ask those who have died to pray for us. While those whom the Church has deemed to be of the Church Triumphant (the canonized Saints) are in Heaven for certain and are, therefore, in no need of our prayers for them, we have always asked for them to pray for us.

As to the Church Suffering in Purgatory, Saint Aquinas teaches that they are not able to know, by themselves, our prayers; however, it is piously believed, and taught by Saint Alphonsus Liguori, that God can make our prayers known to them -- not directly, as they are deprived of the Beatific Vision until they enter Heaven, but by infusing this knowledge into their souls.

Saint Bellarmine teaches that because the Church Suffering is so close to God -- much closer than we are and having the great consolation of knowing they are saved -- their prayers for us are very effective. So, as you pray for your dead loved ones, ask them to pray for you, too!

As to the damned, there is no hope; no prayer can help them and we can not pray formally for those in Hell. The problem, of course, is that we cannot know who is damned, and so we pray generally for "all the faithful departed."

For those who have died outside of visible Communion with Christ's Church or for those Catholics who have died seemingly without repentance and in scandal, public prayer cannot be offered, but we can most certainly still pray privately with the hope that they have died in a state of grace (i.e., those who are denied a Catholic funeral cannot be prayed for liturgically, publicly, but they can most definitely be prayed for -- and should be prayed for --privately). Priests can even offer Masses for such people privately,without naming them.

A Manuscript of a Soul in Purgatory

LITURGICAL PRAYERS FOR THE DEAD:

In addition to the prayers said just after death, and the prayers of the funeral Mass, it is Catholic practice to have Masses said for the departed on the 3rd, 7th, and 30th days after the death or burial, and also on the anniversaries of the death (or as close to it as possible). Masses for the dead have infinite value, in the objective order, for the souls of the departed. They also have great subjective value for those who survive in that it is comforting to know that Masses are being offered for one's departed loved ones. So, while the bereaved can arrange such Masses, others, even non-Catholics, can arrange with a priest to have such Masses said, too, which would be a great gift of comfort to survivors.


Daily Meditation

In God's Arms:

To be a Christian is not to be a member of an exclusive group nor is it to see oneself as privileged by God. Rather, it is to throw oneself into the arms of the compassionate love of God and to live a life of costly love by way of mercy, peace and reconciliation.

Quote by S. Padre Pio:

Isn’t our God more concerned about our salvation than we are ourselves? Isn’t he stronger than hell itself?

Another Prayer for the Holy Souls in Purgatory

O Lord, absolve the souls of all the faithful departed from every bond of sin that with Your gracious help they may deserve to enjoy the blessedness of everlasting light. O God, Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful, grant the souls of Your children the remission of all their sins that they may obtain the pardon they have always desired and enter the joy of Your eternal Life. You live and reign forever. Amen.

Divine Mercy Reflection

Reflections on Notebook Five: 263-326


As we begin Notebook Five, Saint Faustina’s understanding of the Mercy of God should be more alive to you. Hopefully you have a deeper understanding of the infinite love of God and His burning desire to embrace you, free you from the burden of sin, and shower you with His grace.


It should also be clear that God is silent at times so as to strengthen you, purify you and deepen your trust in Him. God’s wisdom and His ways are beyond what we could ever imagine. He is perfect in His love and you must have full confidence in the direction He gives to your life.


As we enter into this notebook, try to believe and live all that you have read so far. It’s one thing to believe it intellectually, it’s quite another thing to believe it with your actions. You must believe in the Mercy of God with your actions. You must let all that you have read take hold of you and direct the way you live. One way to do this is to go back to any reflections that have stood out so far. If something has stood out, be it a particular reflection or a general theme, pay attention to that. The Message of Mercy is broad and all encompassing, but it’s also particular to you. Let the Lord speak directly to you revealing the specific truths that you need to embrace the most.


Reflection 306: God is Relentless


Do you doubt the Love of God? The truth is that God is relentless in His pursuit of you. Though much of our holiness depends upon us, most of it depends upon God. While here on Earth, God never ceases to pursue you and to seek your conversion. He sends His Mercy to you constantly in every way imaginable. The problem is that if your heart is “deaf and blind” it will not perceive the tireless ways that God pursues you. But even in your deafness and blindness, God speaks and pursues and seeks and attempts everything possible so as to win you for Himself. In the end, if a soul remains obstinate and closed, God can do little more. He only needs a very small opening in order to begin His good work in you but if there is not even a small opening, then even God’s active pursuit will not change your life. Open your heart to Him. Even if you are in the depths of despair, allow Him to come to you with one drop of His perfect Mercy. Never close the door completely and if you have, do not hold it shut. He will find a way if you let Him (See Diary #1486).


Hopefully you daily seek to open your heart wide to the Mercy of God. But if you find that you have been bound by the chains of sin, realize that your greatest advocate is our merciful Lord. He can do wonders for those who are trapped and imprisoned by sin, or have become deaf and blind to His grace. Reflect upon how open you are to His Mercy today and resolve to let Him come to you so as to begin pouring His Mercy into your weary soul.


Lord, when I feel trapped or confused in life I know that You will pursue me with Your unlimited passion and Mercy. Your relentless love gives me hope when I am tempted to despair. Help me to open myself to You and to allow You to do Your perfect work of Mercy on my life. I thank You, dear Lord, with profound gratitude. Jesus, I trust in You.

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