Pondering the Teachings of the Church: Purgatory
The month of November is dedicated to the Holy Souls in Purgatory. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines PURGATORY as a “purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven,” which is experienced by those “who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified” (CCC 1030). It notes that “this final purification of the elect . . . is entirely different from the punishment of the damned” (1031). Purification is necessary because, as Scripture teaches, nothing unclean will enter the presence of God in heaven (Rev 21:27) and, while we may die with our mortal sins forgiven, there can still be many impurities in us, specifically venial sins and the temporal punishment due to sins already forgiven (c.f.1032).
Thus, throughout November the Church commemorates in a special way all her faithful children who have departed from this life, but have not yet attained the joys of heaven. St. Paul warns us that we must not be ignorant concerning the dead, nor sorrowful: “At the signal given by the voice of the Archangel and the trumpet of God, the Lord himself will come down from heaven; those who have died in Christ will be the first to rise …” (1Thess 4:16). The Old Testament too speaks of prayers and alms being offered for the souls of the dead “so that they might be released from their sin.” (2Macc12:43 ff; also Ps 35 13; 1Sam 1:31; 2Sam 1:12)
Please pray for the dead and have Masses offered for the repose of their souls.