All Souls

funeralbannerWhen I was a young girl, we often spent extra time at Church for All Souls Day! It was our understanding that we could ‘save’ souls who were waiting their turn to get into heaven. We simply had to make a visit to the Church and say three Our Fathers, three Hail Marys, and three Glory Bes and a soul would be released from Purgatory to be with God. It was our simple faith and we did believe! We made a lot of Church visits on November 2nd! How about you?
In addition, every priest had the opportunity to say three Masses that day for the souls of the dead. They would say the Masses one right after the other. I can remember being able to attend all three (!) and then be excused from our tardy arrival at school. Things were different before the Second Vatican Council! Now, the Feast of All Souls is observed immediately after the feast of All Saints.
Vatican II provided new perceptions about who God is and about what is important to remember.
Today, the Church doesn’t talk much about Purgatory or All Souls or the notion of souls released from purgatory to finally get into heaven. The Catholic Church usually doesn’t indicate that it might have been wrong or misinformed. Instead, the Church simply starts a new page and rolls onward. This can be a good thing.
Our theology of Forgiveness is strong and can be appreciated by all God’s people. We can seek God’s forgiveness daily through our prayer and our self examen. In this way, we can ask forgiveness from another or others as soon as we realize that we have offended them. This takes honesty and integrity to look at ourselves and then to seek out the other to ask for pardon. This is a central Catholic belief; it’s part of our daily living as we pray the Our Father.
Some teachers of the Catholic Faith would say: Purgatory is a process of being made ready to see God and remain in God’s presence forever. It’s a kind of purification process which wipes out our sins and imperfections so that these do not deter us from God.
Finally, it’s also rare that November 2nd falls on a Sunday and takes precedence over the actual Sunday Celebration. It’s a wholesome thought to pray for the dead. We pause to remember all those whom we have loved in life who have gone before us. May they rest in God’s peace.
As we celebrate and remember, here is a video in which Monique Jacobs shares a personal story of a loved one lost and how we might remember these close relationships with the eyes of faith. Sarah Hart’s touching song, Go in Peace, accompanies our prayer reflection.