Archive for the ‘Poor Souls’ Category

November 7th

November 7, 2010

Last week I mentioned in my article that November is a month in which we remember, in a special way, the souls of those who have gone before us.  It is helpful to make distinctions in order to more clearly understand whatever it is that we might be investigating.  For the sake of clarity, then, we ought to distinguish between the guilt of sin and the punishment due to sin.

Whenever a sin is committed, both guilt and its effects are incurred.  Even after sins have been forgiven, there is still the punishment due to sin that remains.  That is why we receive a penance at the end of the Sacrament of Confession.  We receive forgiveness of our sins at the Absolution that we receive at the end of Sacrament of Confession.  The penance imposed by the priest reminds us that even though our sins have been forgiven, we still need to make atonement for our sins.

The classic example, which is often used as an analogy for the effects of sin, is that of a broken window: if a child were to intentionally break a neighbor’s window, there would be several steps involved in reconciling with the neighbor.  First the child is sorry for breaking the window; then the child apologizes, the person then forgives the child, and yet the window still needs to be paid for.

Whenever we sin, we first have to turn away from sin; then we ask for forgiveness (in confession, if the sin was mortal).  God is always willing to forgive us whenever we repent of our sins and ask for His mercy.  Finally, we must make reparation for the sin: i.e. the “window” has to be paid for.

When we speak of indulgences, we are not talking about obtaining the forgiveness of sins: we are referring to the need to make reparation for the sins for which have already been forgiven.

When we pray for our deceased brothers and sisters we are not asking God to forgive them their sins, we are praying that their souls will be perfectly purified of the effects that their sins have had on their souls so that they may be able to enter into God’s all-holy presence.

The Church tells us that our prayers and sacrifices are beneficial to those who have died in God’s grace and yet are still need to be purified from the effects of sin.  Let us remember to keep all the souls of the faithfully departed in our prayers especially during this month of November.


God bless,

Father White

October 31st

October 31, 2010

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