This weekend we celebrate All Saints’ Day…it’s the annual Feast Day where we acknowledge and applaud all of the men and women who have gone before us and now live in everlasting peace and happiness in the Kingdom of Heaven. (…remembering, heaven is certainly our goal too!) Heaven is ours if we sincerely want to go there. And so, the Church celebrates the many souls who reside in Heaven…ones who have been named as Saints and many more who are unknown to us. By declaring certain souls to be in Heaven, the Church gives us many models of what it takes to win the crown of heavenly glory. (Those to be confirmed this year know this truth better than most because they are asking themselves which saint they wish to take on as their own confirmation name. And, those who have been confirmed…do you remember the saint you chose to be modeled after for the rest of your life? Mine was a Roman by the name of St. Patrick!)
This Feast is always a Holy Day of Obligation which means that all Catholics are required to attend its Mass; and, this year, Nov. 1st is on Sunday! God is good. And, because a Solemnity even trumps a Sunday Liturgy…we will celebrate the Day to All Saints!
After the pilgrim Church on earth celebrates the triumphant Church in Heaven, logically, the next celebration is for pilgrim and triumphant Church celebrating with all the dead…All Souls’ Day. It’s then that we remember in a special way all of our family members and friends who have died…and we continue to offer prayers for them throughout the whole month of November. What exactly are we praying for? Well if they are in Purgatory, (or any souls in Purgatory) our prayers serve to lessen the intensity and shorten the duration of their purification there.
As Catholics, we believe that all sins wound the body of Christ. Sins are forgiven by the Mercy of God, but His Divine Justice demands that reparation of the wounds be made. Some people make reparation for their sins in this life, some do it in Purgatory. Once a soul is in Purgatory it can no longer make reparation for itself; it must rely on the prayers and good works of the living that are offered up for them, because the soul is incomplete without the body. So…we have the custom of offering Masses for our loved ones who have died. If our loved ones are in Heaven they have no need of our prayers and Almighty God will direct our prayers where they are most needed. But, if our loved ones are undergoing purification in Purgatory, then our prayers will serve to ease and shorten their time there (“…until you have paid the last penny.” cf. Matt 5:26, Luke 12:59 & Matt 18:33)
In your envelope boxes, the “All Souls” Mass envelopes are found with spaces to write the names of loved ones. I have said this over and over again (…but…it’s worth repeating), the envelope is NOT MEANT FOR MONEY COLLECTION…it’s there for the convenience of NAME COLLECTION (just as the memorial book is). With the names placed on the altar, we will pray as a universal (catholic) Church throughout the month of November for these souls. You’re invited to submit them after listing the names of your deceased family members and friends…simply place the envelopes in the Sunday collection basket (or on St. Joseph’s Altar) and celebrate their lives as we prepare for the coming of Christ the King.