Tuesday, 2 November 2021 : Feast of All Souls (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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.

Tuesday, 2 November 2021 : Feast of All Souls (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Black or Purple/Violet

Mark 15 : 33-39 and Mark 16 : 1-6

At that time, when noon came, darkness fell over the whole land and lasted until three o’clock; and at three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lamma sabachthani?” which means, “My God, My God, why have You deserted Me?”

As soon as they heard these words, some of the bystanders said, “Listen! He is calling for Elijah.” And one of them went quickly to fill a sponge with bitter wine, and putting it on a reed, gave it to Him to drink, saying, “Now let us see whether Elijah comes to take Him down.”

But Jesus uttered a loud cry and gave up His Spirit. And immediately, the curtain that enclosed the Temple Sanctuary was torn in two, from top to bottom. The captain, who was standing in front of Him, saw how Jesus died and heard the cry He gave; and he said, “Truly, this Man was the Son of God.”

When the Sabbath was over, Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go and anoint the Body. And very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they came to the tomb. They were saying to one another, “Who will roll back the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” But, as they looked up, they noticed that the stone had already been rolled away. It was a very big stone.

As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man in a white robe seated on the right, and they were amazed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth Who was crucified; He has been raised and is not here. This is, however, the place where they laid Him.

Tuesday, 2 November 2021 : Feast of All Souls (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Black or Purple/Violet

Romans 5 : 5-11

And hope does not disappoint us, because the Holy Spirit has been given to us, pouring into our hearts the love of God. Consider, moreover, the time that Christ died for us : when we were still helpless and unable to do anything. Few would accept to die for an upright person; although, for a very good person, perhaps someone would dare to die.

But see how God manifested His love for us : while we were still sinners, Christ died for us; and we have become just, through His Blood. With much more reason now He will save us from any condemnation. Once enemies, we have been reconciled with God through the death of His Son; with much more reason, now we may be saved, through His life.

Not only that, but we even boast in God because of Christ Jesus, our Lord, through Whom we have been reconciled.

Tuesday, 2 November 2021 : Feast of All Souls (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Black or Purple/Violet

Psalm 26 : 1, 4, 7-9, 13-14

YHVH is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? YHVH is the rampart of my life; I will not be afraid.

One thing I ask of YHVH, one thing I seek – that I may dwell in His house all the days of my life, to gaze at His jewel and to visit His Sanctuary.

Hear my voice when I call, o YHVH, have mercy on me and answer. My heart says to You, “I seek Your face, o YHVH.” Do not hide Your face from me nor turn away Your servant in anger. You are my protector, do not reject me; abandon me not, o God my Saviour!

I hope, I am sure, that I will see the goodness of YHVH in the land of the living. Trust in YHVH, be strong and courageous, yes, put your hope in YHVH!

Tuesday, 2 November 2021 : Feast of All Souls (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Black or Purple/Violet

Isaiah 25 : 6-9

On this mountain YHVH Sabaoth will prepare for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, meat full of marrow, fine wine strained. On this mountain He will destroy the pall cast over all peoples, this very shroud spread over all nations, and death will be no more.

The Lord YHVH will wipe away the tears from all cheeks and eyes; He will take away the humiliation of His people all over the world : for YHVH has spoken. On that day you will say : This is our God. We have waited for Him to save us, let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation.

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.

Monday, 2 November 2020 : Feast of All Souls, Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Black or Purple/Violet

Matthew 11 : 25-30

At that time, Jesus said, “Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I praise You; because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to simple people. Yes, Father, this was Your gracious will.”

“Everything has been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father; and no one knows the Father except the Son, and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.”

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest. For My yoke is easy; and My burden is light.”

Monday, 2 November 2020 : Feast of All Souls, Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Black or Purple/Violet

Romans 5 : 5-11

And hope does not disappoint us, because the Holy Spirit has been given to us, pouring into our hearts the love of God. Consider, moreover, the time that Christ died for us : when we were still helpless and unable to do anything. Few would accept to die for an upright person; although, for a very good person, perhaps someone would dare to die.

But see how God manifested His love for us : while we were still sinners, Christ died for us; and we have become just, through His Blood. With much more reason now He will save us from any condemnation. Once enemies, we have been reconciled with God through the death of His Son; with much more reason, now we may be saved, through His life.

Not only that, but we even boast in God because of Christ Jesus, our Lord, through Whom we have been reconciled.

Monday, 2 November 2020 : Feast of All Souls, Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Black or Purple/Violet

Psalm 26 : 1, 4, 7-9, 13-14

YHVH is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? YHVH is the rampart of my life; I will not be afraid.

One thing I ask of YHVH, one thing I seek – that I may dwell in His house all the days of my life, to gaze at His jewel and to visit His Sanctuary.

Hear my voice when I call, o YHVH, have mercy on me and answer. My heart says to You, “I seek Your face, o YHVH.” Do not hide Your face from me nor turn away Your servant in anger. You are my protector, do not reject me; abandon me not, o God my Saviour!

I hope, I am sure, that I will see the goodness of YHVH in the land of the living. Trust in YHVH, be strong and courageous, yes, put your hope in YHVH!

Monday, 2 November 2020 : Feast of All Souls, Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Black or Purple/Violet

Isaiah 25 : 6-9

On this mountain YHVH Sabaoth will prepare for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, meat full of marrow, fine wine strained. On this mountain He will destroy the pall cast over all peoples, this very shroud spread over all nations, and death will be no more.

The Lord YHVH will wipe away the tears from all cheeks and eyes; He will take away the humiliation of His people all over the world : for YHVH has spoken. On that day you will say : This is our God. We have waited for Him to save us, let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation.