FRIDAY HOMILY: All Souls Day - Joining Them on the Journey
In his wonderful encyclical letter, Saved by Hope, Pope Benedict XVI writes: "It is clear that we cannot calculate the "duration" of this transforming burning in terms of the chronological measurements of this world. The transforming "moment" of this encounter eludes earthly time-reckoning-it is the heart's time, it is the time of "passage" to communion with God in the Body of Christ".
Purgatory calls us to remember that sin contains a double consequence (CCC #1472). There is the eternal punishment, for which Christ has already atoned. Further, there is a temporal punishment; what we might call the stain of sin, something unhealthy that attaches to us. It is for this temporal punishment, that purgatory is our means of refinement.
All we know is that we will have a profound encounter with Christ's divine love that will be our refiner's fire, consuming all the wood, hay and dross. Like the detergent commercial where people are asked to compare which clothing looks the whitest, the light of His love will show every spot, wrinkle and blemish.The stain of sin and our impurities will be removed that we might be made ready for eternity.
We Can Participate in the Lives of Those Who Are Going Through Purification
What we do here on earth can count for our loved one's in purgatory. This is one of the beautiful dimensions of All Souls' Day; when we are reminded that we, who are with the Church militant, can make a difference in the lives of those in the Church triumphant who are experiencing the refiner's fire.
We are a part of the Church's treasury, explained beautifully in the Catechism.
"The Christian who seeks to purify himself of his sin and to become holy with the help of God's grace is not alone. 'The life of each of God's children is joined in Christ and through Christ in a wonderful way to the life of all the other Christian brethren in the supernatural unity of the Mystical Body of Christ, as in a single mystical person.'
"In the communion of saints, 'a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in purgatory and those who are still pilgrims on earth. Between them there is, too, an abundant exchange of all good things.' In this wonderful exchange, the holiness of one profits others, well beyond the harm that the sin of one could cause others. Thus recourse to the communion of saints lets the contrite sinner be more promptly and efficaciously purified of the punishments for sin." (CCC 1474, 1475)
This treasury is made up, then, of the Masses, the Rosaries, the sacrifices and all other prayers, along with works in charity and spiritual service offered for the intention of the ones departed.
Today, take time to remember the poor souls in purgatory; members of your family, your friends and others that have crossed your path before they entered death's door. Pray for them. They are poor because they have yet to see the heavenly vision that awaits them not because they are destitute or hopeless. In fact, they are filled with hope and joy as their destiny has been sealed. They will see him face to face.
On this day when we remember all the faithful departed, let us never think that people are dead and gone. They have entered into their eternity. As Sir Walter Scott penned, "Is death the last sleep? No--it is the last and final awakening." Let us also remember that purgatory is a doctrine of love, the love of a God who wants us to be truly free - and find our completion and joy in His eternal embrace of communion.
Father Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and a priest with the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter (http://usordinariate.org) established by the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, through the Apostolic Constitution "Anglicanorum Coetibus."
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: All Souls' Day, All Saints, Faithful Departed, Beatific Vision, purgatory, Fr. Randy Sly
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