Monday, 2 November 2020 : Feast of All Souls, Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Black or Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we all celebrate on the day after All Saints’ Day, the Feast of All Souls. On this All Souls’ Day, we commemorate all the souls of the faithful who have departed from this world. We remember our loved ones who have passed on and all others who have gone before us, those whose earthly lives and existences had come to an end.

On this All Souls’ Day, we pray for those holy souls in purgatory, those who are also part of the universal Church of God. They are the Church Suffering just as the glorious saints in Heaven are the Church Triumphant and we who are still living in this world are part of the Church Militant. We are all united as part of this same Church of God and through the Church we have been brought together as one family of people who have called God as our Father, Lord and Master.

While the saints have already attained the glory of Heaven, those holy souls in purgatory we are remembering and praying for today and throughout this whole month in particular are those who have yet to merit immediately the glory of Heaven. Their sins, unrepented and unforgiven, while judged by God not to be great enough to be condemned for eternity in hell, were significant enough that they could not enter immediately into heavenly glory unlike the saints.

They had passed through what the Church called as the ‘particular judgment’, which refers to the judgment of everyone’s souls right at the moment of their passing from the earthly life. This is distinct from the general judgment that will happen at the end of time, also better known as the Last Judgment, when everyone righteous will be judged to be worthy, and their bodies will be raised again and reunited with their holy souls, in a new glorious existence with God as described at the end of the Book of Revelations.

Thus, the holy souls in purgatory have been judged to be worthy and will never end up in hell, hence being considered as holy. It is a misconception to think that purgatory is a place in between heaven and hell, and that people may still end up in hell after purgatory. Those who have ended up in purgatory and will be there in time to come, which include many of us, not holy enough to be like the saints, or wicked enough to deserve hell, we shall endure the flames of purgatory on our way to Heaven.

What is purgatory like, brothers and sisters in Christ? There had been several descriptions of purgatory by the Church fathers, saints and other authors, but they agreed that purgatory while it is a place where the souls of the righteous were awaiting their entry into Heaven, but it is also a place of great suffering, not because of their wickedness but rather because their residual sins, unforgiven, that made them to suffer for their love of God.

Those who have significant sins and ended up in purgatory cannot come directly to the holy presence of God because no sin, no matter how small or insignificant it may be, can be in the presence of God. Thus, those in purgatory are waiting for the expiation or the atonement of their sins. They suffer because they all love God and to be in the presence of God, but they were not yet able to do so.

The flames of purgatory were often described in descriptions of purgatory, but in truth, the flames and the sufferings of purgatory are symbolic of the burning love of God that are in each and every one of the holy souls there. It is their burning love and desire to be with God, and the sorrow and repentance over the sins which prevented them from attaining the fullness of heavenly glory that made them to suffer.

It is indeed good that all these souls are already destined for Heaven, in time to come. For some, it will be shorter while others had to wait for longer time. But regardless of this, the suffering of the holy souls in purgatory is real, and some saints, including St. John Vianney have written their experiences of interacting with the souls in purgatory, as for example, in one occasion, saw the holy souls in purgatory and their sufferings, and how through prayer, and offering of the Holy Mass with intentions for those souls in purgatory, the souls were liberated and brought into heavenly glory.

Through what we have heard, discussed and listened today on the matter of the holy souls in purgatory, many of whom we may have known, and one day which may be our turn to be there in purgatory, we are all called to pray for the sake of those souls in purgatory still waiting for the complete expiation and purification from all of their sins and their residual evils, that had prevented them from being completely reunited with God.

We are praying for them because they cannot pray for themselves. And in fact, the saints are also constantly, daily, praying for all these holy souls that have yet to be able to join them in the glory of Heaven. We should also pray for them because we are after all, members of the same Church of God. If one part of the Body of Christ, the Church suffers hurt, then it is natural for all the other parts to feel the hurt and pain as well. Therefore, today, and throughout this whole month, as Pope Francis has recently extended the plenary indulgences for the holy souls in purgatory by the authority of the Church, let us all pray for the holy souls in purgatory, for all the faithful departed, and offer intentions in the Holy Mass for them, that the priests may offer the Mass for their sake.

Do not forget, brothers and sisters, that we ourselves are still on the journey as well. Because of that, we should keep in mind the sufferings of the holy souls in purgatory as a reminder that we ourselves must live as holy a life as possible in this world. Let us all distance ourselves from wickedness and sin, and repent from our sinful ways as soon as possible, if not now. Remember that every sins that we have, unrepented and unforgiven, will be judged against us on the day of the particular judgment when we die and pass on from this world, and also at the final judgment.

Let us pray for the holy souls in purgatory, so that one day, when we too are probably in purgatory ourselves, these holy souls who have gone before us to Heaven will then in turn pray for us, remembering our love and fraternal kindness, as brothers and sisters in the same Lord, that we, although separated between this world and purgatory, our bonds of faith in Christ remain the same, and remain strong as always. Let us all ask God for His mercy and compassion, on all of us, and on all those who are still now enduring the flames of purgatory. May God lead them all into His heavenly glory, in His good time, and by His enduring love for all of them. Amen.

Saturday, 2 November 2019 : Feast of All Souls, Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Black or Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we continue to celebrate through the Allhallowtide period, as we move on from the glorious celebrations of yesterday’s Solemnity of All Saints to the more sombre commemoration of All Souls Day today. While yesterday we focus our attention on the glorious holy men and women, the saints of God who are already in heaven, today we remember the memory of the holy souls departed from us.

On this All Souls Day, we remember all those our brethren who have departed from this world, having met the end of their earthly existence and are now not yet worthy of the glory of heaven unlike those saints who are already there with God. Instead, these souls are now waiting in purgatory, in a place where they are purified from their sins before they are allowed to enter into the heavenly glory with God. They are worthy enough to evade the eternal damnation in hell but not yet worthy of heaven at the moment.

Today we remember those holy souls, who are holy because in life they have been righteous and faithful, and not those who have completely rejected and refused to believe in God right up to their dying breath. However, because of their remaining substantial sins, be it venial sins or more serious sins that are yet to be confessed or forgiven by God, they are considered to be yet fully worthy of God, for we must remember that while God loves us all very much and wants us to be with Him, but He is also all good and perfect.

And thus with that in mind, we must understand that sin has no place at all before God, no matter how small or insignificant those sins are. Sin is corruption of our flesh, our mind, our heart, our soul and our very being, and therefore, as long as we have any remaining sin in us, we are still yet unworthy of entering the glory of heaven directly unlike the saints whose virtues so exceed their shortcomings or that they have lived lives full of virtue that they deserved immediate entry into heaven.

Therefore, the Church taught us the doctrine of purgatory, as a place in the afterlife where the departed holy souls are being purified in the ‘flames’ of purgatory, as their residual sins are being purified from them so that eventually they will merit the glory of heaven. The greater the residual sins one has, consequently the longer he or she has to spend in purgatory prior to joining with God in the fullness of heavenly glory.

Those holy souls in purgatory are often described as suffering, suffering not from any physical injury or even flames as those depictions of purgatory like to project to us. But rather, it is the unbearable separation from God, Who is already so close to them and yet still distant from them that made them to suffer. They love God very much, and yet there is still the chasm between them and God caused by their residual sins.

Of course their suffering is different from those in hell as those in hell have absolutely no hope and have been shut off from the Lord for eternity, but nonetheless, the moments that the holy souls in purgatory spend there being separated from God must have been a tough suffering indeed. There has been verified witnesses and events in the history of the Church when the holy souls in purgatory had appeared or made known to us how they are suffering there, waiting for the full reunion with God.

Now, having discussed about the holy souls in purgatory, let us then move on to the significance of this day, the All Souls Day. On this day in particular, we focus our attention on all those holy souls still in purgatory waiting for entry into heaven. Just as yesterday we remember the saints who are still part of the Church as much as we are as the Church Triumphant in heaven and we as the Church Militant on earth, thus the holy souls in purgatory are also still part of the Church, the Church Suffering.

The Church Suffering are praying with us, for our sake, that we may live our lives virtuously so hopefully we may avoid the same fate that they are now enduring in facing a period of lengthened wait before they can enter into heavenly glory and joy. But they cannot pray for themselves, and they need our help in this regard. We can pray for the holy souls in purgatory, asking God to help them and to reduce the amount of time they have to spend there, because we remind God of the love which He has for us, to forgive us all our sins.

That is why it is important that today we recall the memory of our loved ones and all those whom we know, who are no longer with us and are probably waiting in purgatory this very moment. Let us all pray for each and every one of them, and let us all help them to be purified and be forgiven their sins that they may enter the gates of heaven at the soonest possible moment. And let this day also be a reminder for us that we may end up spending a long time in purgatory too, unless we straighten up our lives.

This means that as we remember the holy souls in purgatory, we have to keep in mind and reflect on our own way of life too. We have to live our lives faithfully at all times, distancing ourselves from sinful and wicked acts and things in life. That way, we may be worthy enough that our virtues and goodness will allow us to go right up to the heavens, just as the saints are. While we have breath in us and time given by God, let us not wait until it is too late for us.

And lastly, let us all pray for those holy souls in purgatory who may have no one to pray for them, so that through our prayers, they too may be helped. And maybe we should also remember even those who have used to be our enemies and treated us badly in life, and are now in purgatory. Let us all forgive them what they have done to us and pray for them so that as what God has said Himself, that He may forgive us our sins just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.

May the Lord, our ever loving and wonderful God continue to love us and bless us, and may He give the holy souls in purgatory a reprieve from their suffering out of love for Him, that they may be reunited completely with Him in the heavenly glory they have yearned for. And may we all too be faithful and be righteous that one day we will also merit the entry into His glorious kingdom. Amen.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016 : Feast of All Souls, Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, All Souls’ Day (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Black
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, the All Souls’ Day, we remember all of our brethren who have departed before us, all those whom we have known and have left us behind, and even all others, strangers whom we have not met, but indeed have also left this earthly life behind. Today we remember all the souls of the faithful departed, just as yesterday we rejoice together in the glory of the saints, those whom God and His Church had deemed worthy to receive directly the glory of heaven.

And today, we pray for those who have left this earthly life and yet we are not sure of their state after their earthly death, whether they would be worthy enough to merit to enter the kingdom of heaven, or whether they have to suffer in purgatory before they can enter into the kingdom of God, or whether their wickedness or sins had overcome them and made them judged to be worthy of hell instead. It is not us to decide, but God.

For many of us, our instinctive reaction upon thinking of death is fear, that is we are afraid of death, because of this uncertainty of our fate, and ultimately, of course, many of us find it difficult to part with whatever we have attained and possessed in this world, resulting in many of us trying to preserve whatever we have, our life and our youth, with many emphasis placed on trying to prolong our lives and maintaining our youthful appearances.

Many of us grieve very badly upon losing our loved ones to death, mostly because we think that we are not going to see them again, and we cannot bear to be separated from them. It is part of our natural instinct as human beings to grieve and be sad, because after all, when we are no longer able to physically interact with someone we love and care for, we should indeed feel disturbed by that new reality.

But we should not lose hope or despair, for the Lord Himself had made it clear to us in many occasions, that He has come into the world that all of us may have hope, because of His death and resurrection, which showed us all that there is a path out of that darkness and despair, the path to our salvation in our God. And that is the hope which all of us ought to remember today, even as we are saddened by the loss of our beloved.

Remember, brethren, that Christ’s death is followed by His resurrection, and He has promised us all through His disciples, that He will raise all those who are faithful to Him on the last day, and we all will be reunited with one another, with our beloved ones, with our brothers and sisters with whom we may have been temporarily separated. If we believe in this, then truly, we should absolutely have no need to fear death, be it for our own or for others around us, as it is not an end, but rather the transition and the beginning to a new life filled with new joy with our God.

Therefore, today, as we celebrate the Feast of All Souls’ Day, first of all, let us all realise that as I have mentioned yesterday during the Solemnity of All Saints, there are three parts of the Church, the Church Triumphant, consisting of the saints of God, who have been deemed worthy to enjoy immediately the joy of the kingdom of God, the Church Militant, all of us living in this world at the moment, who are living the daily struggles of our lives, and finally the Church Suffering, for whom we are praying for today.

For the Church Suffering consists of all the faithful ones who have lived in the grace of God, died in a state of grace, but which venial or minor sins have not been completely cleared and absolved from them. They are not yet able to be with God, for they cannot bring sin before God, as sin has no place before Him. Nevertheless, they have also been found worthy enough so as to escape the eternal damnation in hell, which is reserved only for those whose evil and wicked deeds truly outweighed their good ones.

So today, firstly, we have to pray for those souls in purgatory, who are suffering the pain of the holy flames of purification, enduring the consequences of their sufferings. We pray that God will lessen their sufferings and ordeal, and be willing to completely absolve our brethren in purgatory of their sins, that they may finally enter into the heavenly kingdom and partake in the glorious inheritance reserved for them.

And secondly, we should also reflect on how we ourselves live our lives in this world. The souls in purgatory knew well what they have committed in life, all the things they have done that landed them in the purgatorial flames instead of immediately enjoying the glorious heaven. And they definitely would not want us to end up where they are as well. In fact, just as we have prayed for them, they too are constantly praying for us.

Knowing just how much we all are related to each other, even beyond the realm of this world, we should all the more be more inspired to live a good and devout Christian life. We should not take chances, brothers and sisters in Christ, for what is at stake is none other than our own souls, the state of our own salvation or whether it would instead be damnation.

Let us all not wait until it is too late for us, but instead, work together and helping each other to find our way to the Lord, by doing what is right in the sight of God, by our unfailing obedience and commitment, by loving our brethren in need, be generous and be charitable in all things. And let us also not forget about our loving brethren, our beloved relatives and even strangers who are also our brothers and sisters, children of the same God, that we should offer them our prayers and for the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass to be offered for their sake.

Let us pray for one another, that all of us will eventually be able to persevere through all the difficult challenges in this world, and give our best in order to do the will of our God, be no longer lukewarm and hesitant in our faith, but instead be true disciples of our Lord, doing His will in all that we say, act and do. May God bless us all, and may all the souls of our brethren, those who are faithful and have departed, find the rest they need in the Lord. Requiescat in Pace. Amen.