Liturgical Colour : Black or Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today after the All Saints’ Day, we commemorate with solemn remembrance the occasion of All Souls’ Day. This day we remember all those holy souls in purgatory, all those who have departed from this world and have yet to deserve the glory of Heaven. While we do not know exactly the fate of the souls of the dead, except those whom by virtue of their great and faithful living and by careful investigation and scrutiny of the Church, had been declared officially as saints and therefore meriting the beatific vision of Heaven, the other souls of the faithful generally will end up in purgatory, except of course those who have willingly and consistently rejected God, and refused to repent from their sins and wickedness.
Those who have rejected the Lord, refused His mercy and kindness, those who committed mortal sins and refused to repent from them, all these had closed the doors of salvation upon themselves. It was not God Who desired their destruction, as history had proven again and again how God wanted and desired for each and every one of us, His beloved children and people, to be reconciled and returned, reunited and brought back to His Presence. He reached out even to the most stubborn, wicked and unworthy amongst us, and some of them had a change of heart, and were saved. Some of them even became saints later on, and were great examples for us to follow Yet, many others continued to resist the Lord’s efforts, hardened their hearts and minds, and consequently, they were deemed unworthy at the particular judgment upon their passing from this world, and were sent to hell.
Mentioning this matter of judgment, this is where we need to know that according to the Church teachings, there are two types of judgment, namely the particular judgment that happens for every single one of us, at the moment when our earthly existence ends, and where we will be judged, and has been judged, for those who had gone before us, to three possibilities, either of Heaven, or purgatory, or hell. The last and final, general judgment, also known as the Last Judgment will then take place at the very end of time as the Scriptures highlighted, and that will determine our eternal fate. Yet, those who have been condemned to hell has no way out, as they had rejected God and refused to be reconciled to Him, and will be judged unworthy of God, and cast out of His Presence. And those who are in purgatory and Heaven, all will be considered worthy and good, and will enjoy forever the eternal joy of the Lord and with God.
Now, we have to understand then what purgatory is all about, as this commemoration today of All Souls’ Day is about all the faithful departed, those who are not yet worthy of God like the saints and blesseds, and yet, those that have not openly rejected the Lord and refused to repent to the very end. We have to first understand that God is perfect and all good in nature, and sin as evil and imperfection born out of disobedience against Him and perversion of His Law and truth has no place in His Presence. Therefore, sinners as we are, unless our sins are mostly overcome and minuscule in nature due to our many merits and righteousness, which would then have merited us straight entry into Heaven as what happened to the saints and blesseds, or for martyrs who shed their blood and laid down their lives for the sake of their faith and God, then for most of us, we are likely to end up in purgatory.
Purgatory is a place where the souls of the faithful dead remain for a time before they are finally allowed to go to Heaven and enjoy there the same beatific vision and joy together with the saints, blesseds and other martyrs, and other holy men and women whom God deemed already worthy of Heaven. Purgatory is a place where those who were already destined to Heaven have to wait because their lingering sins and all those that prevented them from coming near to God are cleansed from them. And contrary to popular belief, purgatory is not a place where the holy souls are tortured by fire, as where the term ‘flames of purgatory’ originated from. In truth, the holy souls in purgatory do suffer, but they suffer from the ‘purifying flames’ of the Spirit, and also from the regret of the sins that they had committed, and yet unforgiven.
In the Gospel, the Lord mentioned to His disciples how when two people were on their way to court, they should try their best to resolve their differences and be reconciled, or else, when the judgment comes, those who have to suffer the penalty, jail and all, will have to endure them and will not end until they have paid back every single debt and settle every single punishments they deserve. In the same way therefore, everyone has to account for all the sins they committed, which had not been forgiven by God and for which they had not been pardoned, before they can enjoy the eternal bliss, happiness and joy of Heaven. Those holy souls in purgatory are therefore still suffering and waiting for the time when the Lord will finally lead them into His heavenly glory at the end of their time there.
The greater the sins one have, the longer it is that they had to endure in purgatory, however, as the Church taught us and from Scriptural evidences, prayers for the dead by us the living and also by the intercession of the saints do matter. Through our prayers for the holy souls in purgatory, God may be moved to show mercy to them, and this may shorten the time that those souls have to endure in purgatory, by the virtues of the faith that we, the living and the saints have, and by the love which we show to those souls who are now suffering and enduring trials and purification in purgatory. And we must not forget that just as I mentioned at All Saints’ celebration yesterday, the saints, blesseds, holy men and women of God in Heaven, and also the holy souls in purgatory are part of one Church of God, the Universal Church.
The holy souls in purgatory are part of the Church Suffering just as we are part of the Church Militant, still living and enduring the hardships and challenges of this world, and just as the saints, blesseds and all those already in heavenly glory are part of the Church Triumphant. The whole entire Church are united in purpose, love and communion, by our sharing in the same Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Eucharist, and by our common baptism. And those who are not baptised yet, and those who have not yet known God are also open to salvation because it was not by their fault that they did not know God or His truth. Those holy souls in purgatory therefore include all those Christians and even non-Christians whom God deemed to be worthy of Him, and just having the venial sins and unforgiven faults that prevented them from coming to Heaven right away.
And as members of the same Church of God, each one of us therefore should not ignore those holy souls in purgatory, our own fellow brothers and sisters, who are in need of our help and company. Let us all not forget that as Christians, we have been taught by God to love one another just as we love God and ourselves. We must not be selfish and thinking of only our own salvation. Just as much as we are supposed to love our brothers and sisters in this world, helping those who are needy and those who are lacking in love and care, hence, we should also love and show our care for the holy souls in purgatory as well. Some of them are those whom we know, our own departed family members, relatives, friends and other loved ones.
And some of these holy souls in purgatory may have no one at all to pray for them. They also cannot pray for themselves, and depend on us and the saints to intercede for them. Therefore, this day, we should keep in mind just as we pray for the souls of our beloved ones who have departed before us, that we also commit to our prayers all the holy souls in purgatory who have no one praying for them. Let us not forget that we too one day will come into the end of our earthly existence, as death is something that all of us mortal beings have to experience and endure, and we may ourselves end up in purgatory. If we do not want to pray for those who are now suffering in purgatory, then what if that very same fate awaits us as well, brothers and sisters in Christ?
Therefore, today’s All Souls’ Day commemoration should also serve as a kind reminder to all of us that we are all called to lives that are more appropriate and worthy of God as Christians, that is as those whom God has called to be one of His own people, to be His flock, followers and disciples. To us, through His Church, Apostles and disciples, God has revealed His truth and love, and therefore, we are expected to lead a true Christian living and faith, and be truly faithful in all things, in our every words, actions and deeds, and not only just in mere appearances only. We have to be sincere and genuine in how we live our faith, if we have not done so.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore commit ourselves to righteous and virtuous Christian living from now on, and let us all be good examples of faith to one another, that we are always reminded of our mortality and our own eventual fate. If we seek to go to Heaven, then we should really do our very best to live our lives in accordance to what God has taught us to do through His Church and through His disciples. Let us all pray for our predecessors, the holy souls in purgatory, that God may show mercy upon them and bring them into the glory of Heaven as He wills it. May God bless all the holy souls in purgatory, and all of us here still living in this world. Amen.