Liturgical Colour : Black or Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us come together to mark the occasion of All Souls Day, on which day we remember our brothers and sisters who have departed from this world before us. Today we remember all those who have left their worldly existence in the flesh, and who have died in the Lord, as those who are not considered as saints, whose feast we celebrate yesterday in All Saints Day, but are still probably in Purgatory, waiting to enter the glory of Heaven.
What is Purgatory, brothers and sisters in Christ? Purgatory is a place where the holy souls who have passed on from this world are in, in a time and existence between that of this world and Heaven. They are not yet able to enter Heaven, because unlike the saints whose faith and virtues had deemed them to be worthy, over their venial sins, to enter Heaven directly at the moment of their passing from this world, those holy souls in Purgatory are still burdened by the residual sins that they had not been forgiven from.
One may then think that if God is so great and merciful, then He could have forgiven all of us all of our sins at His will and whim alone, and that isn’t it because of His suffering and death on the Cross that He has liberated all of us mankind from sin and evil, and freed us from our bondage? Then, why is it that Purgatory exists? The same question then can be asked of why does hell still exist then. If God has redeemed and saved us all, then should not all mankind free to enter Heaven at the end of their lives in this world?
This is where many of us often lack the proper understanding of our faith and how the afterlife works. Many aspects of what will happen after death remains a mystery to us, but through the teachings of the Lord, the wisdom of the Holy Spirit given to us through the Apostles and many other saints, including visionaries and all those who have witnessed Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory, the Church therefore had revealed to us from what it had kept in the treasures of the faith, of what happens to us after we pass on from this world.
Essentially after we pass on from this world, a certainty for all of us due to our mortality, as no one can ever evade death, then there are three paths for us. Those as mentioned earlier who have lived their lives with great virtue and devotion to God, or even had shed their blood, suffered and died a martyr’s death, all of them are deemed worthy to enter into the glory of Heaven, to enjoy the beatific vision and the joy of being with God, as the innumerable saints that we have, and of which some have been officially recognised by the Church.
Then, for those who have died rejecting the Lord and His mercy to the very end, refusing to repent and continuing to live a life of sin and wickedness to their last moment, then they most likely end up in Hell, to suffer with the devil and all of his fellow fallen angels, the demons and evil spirits that dwell there, as a consequence of their conscious rejection of God’s love, compassion and mercy. Hell as the Church teaches us, is not as much a place as a state of existence, where the rejection of God led to a most bitter and terrible suffering.
Then, for many others, if not the vast majority of us, then we will end up in Purgatory, as our sins are not that terrible and horrendous that it merits us Hell, but at the same time, sin is still sin, no matter how small and insignificant it may be, and as long as our souls are still tainted by the residual sins that we have, then we cannot yet enter into Heaven, to where God dwells and be in His presence. And why not? That is because God is so good and perfect, that no sin can be in His presence.
That is why, in Purgatory, those holy souls are still suffering not because of the suffering that is like those who are in Hell are suffering, as they all suffer while knowing that Heaven is their ultimate destination. Their suffering came about because they have regretted still having those sins preventing them from immediately coming to be in the presence of God, and those sins have to be purified before they will be able to enter the glory of Heaven.
The Church has offered us all many opportunities to be forgiven from our sins, just as the Lord has given His Church the authority to forgive sins, the same power that He Himself has shown, as God alone can forgive sin. He has delegated that power and authority through the Church and the Apostles, and from them to our bishops and priests. The Sacrament of Reconciliation or Penance is the means by which the Church offers us this chance of forgiveness and reconciliation with God.
As such, when we confess our sins before the priest and are truly regretful of those sins that we confessed, then the Lord will forgive us through the priest, who is acting in the person of Christ, or ‘in persona Christi’, to forgive us our sins through Christ acting through him, as the triumphant Lamb of God and Saviour, Who had redeemed us from all sins and evils through His suffering and death on the Cross. Yet, not all of us have our sins confessed and some of us have carried our sins with us even to the afterlife.
That is why probably many of us will end up in Purgatory, and today, we remember those holy souls, our very own brothers and sisters, who have gone before us and are now there, suffering and waiting for the complete purification of their residual sins, such that they may finally then enter into the glory of Heaven. And those souls cannot pray for themselves to end their time there faster, but we can do that for them. We, the Church Militant still living in this world, as well as the saints, the Church Triumphant in Heaven are able to pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, our fellow brethren in the Church Suffering.
Therefore today, on this All Souls Day, let us all remember all the holy souls in Purgatory, especially those souls who have no one to pray for them, that God may have mercy on them, and remembering His great love, compassion and kindness, may be moved to allow them to enter into His glorious kingdom at the soonest opportunity, and therefore enjoy the inheritance that we ourselves will one day enjoy too, if we remain faithful to God. We should pray for them, especially on this special day and also for the rest of the month of November, now that the Church had decided again for this year to extend the indulgence for the dead for a longer period of time.
And let us all also remember that we have to lead a life that is holy and worthy of God, or else we ourselves may end up in Purgatory. Let us all strive to follow the examples of the saints, and distance ourselves from sin and evil, helping one another in this world to live good Christian lives, while also helping those in Purgatory to be closer to God and their Heavenly inheritance and promise. Let us all, members of the same Church of God, the Church Militant, Church Triumphant and Church Suffering pray together as one and help one another in our journey towards the Lord, for us in this world and for those in Purgatory.
May God, our loving God and Father, bless us all and may He have mercy and compassion on the holy souls in Purgatory, that He may lead them all to Himself, gather them in, forgive them their sins and remembering their love for Him, that all the holy souls in Purgatory, our brothers and sisters may have eternal peace and true joy in the Lord’s Presence, one that we hope to share in the future ourselves, one day as is our hope as always. Amen.