October 31st

November is a month in which we remember, in a special way, the souls of those who have gone before us. Tomorrow (November 1st) is the Feast of All Saints, a day on which we celebrate all of our older brothers and sisters in the faith who fought the good fight and are now enjoying their eternal reward with God in Heaven. The following day (November 2nd) is the “Commemoration of All Souls.” All Souls Day is a day on which we call to mind, in a particular way, the need to pray for our deceased loved ones.

We know that our God is infinitely holy. Scripture tells us that nothing unclean can enter into His all-holy presence. (cf. Revelation 21:27) All Souls day reminds us to pray for our departed brothers and sisters, that they may be perfectly purified from any stain of past sins and behold God face-to-face.

The Church teaches us that all who die in a state of grace, yet are not perfectly purified from past sins, are assured of their eternal salvation; yet they still need to undergo purification so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of Heaven. (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church 1030) This final purification is known as Purgatory.

It is important to remember that this purification is different from forgiveness. Sin has a double consequence: sin damages our relationship with God, but sin also entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures. (cf. CCC 1472) When we confess our sins, God forgives us; yet we still must be purged of our inordinate attachments. We can be purified either in this life, or we can be purified in the next. We can be forgiven only in this life: which is why it is important to make regular use of the Sacrament of Confession. Saint Augustine once wrote: “God has promised forgiveness to your repentance, but He has not promised tomorrow to your procrastination.”

It is always good to pray for our deceased loved ones; the Church has us pray for the faithful departed at every Mass. (There is a prayer for them in every Eucharistic Prayer.) Praying for the dead assists them in the purification of their souls. Even if our loved ones have already attained the Beatific Vision, our prayers are never wasted; our prayers can help others who are in need.

The Church encourages us to visit cemeteries and pray for the deceased, especially on the first eight days of November. A plenary indulgence, applicable to the souls in purgatory, is granted to the faithful who devoutly visit a cemetery and pray for the faithful departed on any and each day from November 1st to the 8th. [A plenary indulgence is the full remission of the temporal punishment due to sin whose guilt has already been forgiven. (cf. CCC 1471) More on this next week.]

Let us remember to pray for the souls in Purgatory, especially in this month dedicated to that purpose. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

God bless,

Father White

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