All Saints and All Souls
On Friday this week we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints and on Saturday the Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed or All Souls. All Saints Day is a Holyday of Obligation because the Church is highlighting to us that only saints are in Heaven. Only those who prepare their souls properly in this life and those purified in Purgatory will make it to Heaven. And so we should all desire to become holy. Perhaps reaching such a high degree of sanctity can be daunting to us but we should pray for it constantly. The young St Dominic Savio (1842-57) said to himself every day, “I intend to become holy.” By cooperating with God’s grace he reached his goal. And that’s what we want – to be numbered among the angels and saints in Heaven. All the saints in Heaven, whether they be canonised or not, lived in this world and had to struggle against sin and temptation just as we do now. But they fought and they conquered and attained the crown of glory. Ask them to pray for and help you who are still engaged in spiritual battle in this world.
Then on All Souls Day and indeed throughout the whole of November we pray in earnest for the souls of the faithful departed: those who have died in God’s grace but who at the moment of death still had imperfections to be purified before they can enter Heaven. It’s what we call Purgatory. Many today like to doubt Purgatory’s existence but it is a dogma of the Church and belief in it by the early Christians is proved by many inscriptions in the catacombs and by the writings of the early Fathers of the Church. The Jews believed in it – we read in the book of Maccabees how Judas collected twelve thousand drachmas of silver to have sacrifices offered for the dead. “It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins” (2 Macc 12:46). Our Lord Himself speaks of sins which cannot be forgiven in this life or in the next (Matt 12:31-32). Therefore there must be less serious sins which can be forgiven after death. And St Paul speaks of imperfections which will be purified by fire after death (1 Cor 3:10-15). This cannot be Hell, therefore it must be Purgatory. We all have an obligation to pray for the dead who are expiating there. The most powerful way of assisting them is to have Masses offered.
You can obtain particular Plenary Indulgences for the Holy Souls during November to help hasten their entrance to Heaven. They are printed on the back page of this newsletter. St Padre Pio would pray many Rosaries each day for the souls in Purgatory. He said, “The holy souls are eager for the prayers of the faithful…Pray unceasingly. We must empty Purgatory.” Do your bit especially this month to help empty Purgatory and you will have many great advocates in Heaven.
Fr Paul Gillham, IC