Today we honor all the souls who are in purgatory. And we pray that Almighty God will take quickly them to Himself
Reflections on the readings for The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (November 2, 2022): WIS 3:1-9; PS 23:1-3,3-4,5,6; ROM 6:3-9; JN 6:37-40
MISSIO offers “Mission In Scripture” to nurture a missionary heart, providing reflections on the missionary themes in the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
We also remember, in a special way, our own family members and all those near and dear to us who have gone before us.
Yesterday we honored all of the saints who are in heaven and today we commemorate all those who are already on their way there. These are the souls in purgatory who have completed their lives on earth, but have not yet entered the presence of God. They are being purified of whatever remains in them of sin so that they may enter fully into the Beatific Vision; that is, the intimate contemplation and mindfulness of God Himself. While the Church has encouraged prayer for the dead since it’s early days, the feast itself took gradual shape over the middle ages. Monasteries, in particular, began to set aside an annual day to pray for the deceased members of their communities. The day after All Saints Day seemed most appropriate and, in time, this became accepted by the universal Church. In the Gospel for today, we hear Jesus tell the crowd gathered around Him how much God wants their eternal company: “Everything that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to Me, because I came down from heaven not to do My own will but the will of the one who sent Me. And this is the will of the one who sent Me, that I should not lose anything of what He gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day” (John 6:37-39).
Let us assist these holy souls to enter their heavenly home. Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, who was for many years the national director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith in the United States, said that “Purgatory is a place where the Love of God tempers the Justice of God, but also where the love of man tempers the injustice of man, for it enables hearts who are left behind to break the barriers of time and death, to convert unspoken words into prayers, unburned incense into sacrifice, unoffered flowers into alms, and undone acts of kindness into help for eternal life.” So let us offer up our prayers, acts of charity, and attendance at Mass, asking Almighty God to take these souls quickly to Himself.
Suggested missionary action: Today, and throughout this month dedicated by the Church to the remembrance of the faithful departed, let us pray for all the souls in purgatory. In a particular way we can petition God’s mercy not only for our loved ones who have died, but also for those who have no one to pray for them -- or even remember them.