(College of Cardinals Update) Passing of Cardinal Karl Lehmann, Cardinal Priest of San Leone I, at the age of 81

Cardinal Karl Lehmann, Cardinal Priest of San Leone I and Bishop Emeritus of Mainz has returned to the Lord on Sunday, 11 March 2018 at the age 0f 81.

Cardinal Lehmann was the Bishop of Mainz from 1983 to 2016, and was also the Vice President of the German Episcopal Conference from 1985 to 1987 and the longtime President of the same Episcopal Conference from 1987 to 2008. He was also the Vice President of the Council of European Bishops’ Conference from 1993 to 2001. He was made a Prince of the Church as the Cardinal Priest of San Leone I in the Consistory of 21 February 2001 by Pope St. John Paul II, the Vicar of Christ.

We pray for the soul of Cardinal Karl Lehmann, that God will welcome him into the eternal glory of heaven. And we also thank God for having given us this great servant of God and His Church through his many works and dedications for the sake of the people of God. May God give him eternal rest. Amen.

As of today, with the passing of Cardinal Karl Lehmann, the College of Cardinals stood at 215 members, consisting of 117 Cardinal-electors and 98 Cardinal non-electors.

Thursday, 2 November 2017 : All Souls Day (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Black or Purple

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the All Souls’ Day, the day when we remember and pray for the souls of all the faithful departed, especially for those who are suffering in the fires of Purgatory, the place where the souls of the faithful go, when they are not yet fully worthy of God, meriting heaven directly as the saints had received. Today we pray for these holy souls, suffering because they are waiting to be fully reconciled and reunited with God.

Just as yesterday we rejoice together with all the saints of God, holy men and women deemed officially by the Church to be immediately merit and worthy of the glory and grace of heaven, in All Saints’s Day, today we remember all the other souls of the faithful departed, whom we hope to be welcomed by God in His eternal dwelling in heaven. We remember them because even though they are no longer physically with us, but they are still there, be it in heaven or in Purgatory, and hopefully not in hell.

The Church as I mentioned yesterday, is composed not only just of the Church that is physically in this world now, and neither it is made of just the buildings, structures, or hierarchies of people we often thought and mistook to be what the Church is. It consists firstly of all of us the faithful living in this world, part of the Church Militant, constantly struggling and persevering in this world, and that is why we are called the Church Militant.

However, the Church is also composed of all the saints of God, all those holy men and women who by their exemplary and inspiring lifestyle, have been deemed to be worthy of the Lord and His kingdom of heaven, as the Church Triumphant. And then, the Church also comprises of the souls of the faithful departed who are suffering in the flames of holy Purgatory, where they are spending time to be purified from their sins, as the Church Suffering.

Therefore, today, the primary focus of our intentions is the prayer for these souls in Purgatory, who cannot pray for themselves, to be forgiven from their sins that temporarily separates them from the fullness of the love of God. We pray for them because in our faith, we believe that the Lord will listen to our prayers, made for their sake, and He will be moved to help these souls that they may be completely absolved from their faults, and enter into the eternal glory of heaven.

I am sure that many of us are willing to pray for the souls of our loved ones who have gone before us. That is because we are not sure whether they have ended in heaven, or Purgatory, or even hell. But that is the reality, brothers and sisters in Christ. Not all souls will be saved, because in the end, if the person continues to reject the Lord’s offer of salvation and mercy, and doubles down the path of sin and darkness, in the end, it is only hell that awaits that person’s soul.

God does not abandon His people or cast them into hell. Rather, it is our own conscious choice to reject the Lord and to continue in our rebellion against Him, and being unrepentant about it which leads us to the damnation in hell. And hell is a reality that we must be aware of, for the suffering in hell is not just the fires that we often had in mind when we think of hell. In fact, the true suffering of the souls condemned to eternity in hell is due to the total lack of hope, and total separation from God’s love.

Mankind cannot live without God’s love, and to endure for eternity without any trace of God’s love is indeed how painful the suffering of the souls cast down to hell is like. And to a lesser extent, that is the suffering of the souls in Purgatory. For them, they are suffering because even though they have the hope of receiving eternal life and glory, and are in the threshold of Heaven, but they cannot yet enter it because of the sins that still once corrupted them in life.

For God is all good and perfect, that no sinner unforgiven and unrepentant can be in His presence, and thus, that is why our Church in its sacred tradition and teachings stated that the holy souls departed from this life, but had not yet merited Heaven immediately, will end up in Purgatory, where the cleansing flame of God’s love will purify their souls, and through prayers and intercessions from the saints and from each one of us still living in this world, they can be brought into Heaven in God’s good time.

Therefore, on this day, All Souls’ Day, all of us Christians should first of all, pray for the sake of our deceased brethren, those who have gone before us to the afterlife, as through our prayers, delivered to God, God may have mercy and compassion on these souls in Purgatory, and by His will and decision, He may absolve them of their remaining sins and impurities, and bring them right into the glory of Heaven.

But at the same time, what each and every one of us cannot forget is that, what happens on this day and what we commemorate is not just focusing on the souls of the dead. All of them have received their just rewards, be it eternal glory in Heaven right away, or be it temporary suffering in Purgatory while awaiting the glory of Heaven to come, or indeed, the eternal damnation and suffering in hell. But there are still many things that all of us, members of God’s Church Militant, still living in this world, can do.

As we pray for the sake of our departed brothers and sisters in the Lord, for our loved ones and for the salvation and peace for their souls, let us also remember in our own deeds and actions in life, in how we lead a life that should be Christian in nature, and devoted to God. If we have wandered off somehow because of the many temptations and pressures in life, from the world, from all those who are around us, and due to other reasons, perhaps it is time for us to reevaluate our lives, our focus and our approach in life.

Let us remember that this life we have now, we receive it from the Lord, our God. And our very breath, which we take in and exhale every now and then, regularly, comes from the Lord and is a gift of God. God has given each and every one of us the opportunities in our respective lives, to lead a good, Christian and dedicated life. We should not be complacent or be ignorant in our lives, but instead, strive to do our best to be devout and committed Christians.

And in that way, we will be able to build up for ourselves, as the Lord Jesus Himself said, a great treasure in heaven. Let us wait no longer and delay no longer, for many Christians like to delay and to postpone things, and think that they have a lot of time, or that God is forever merciful and loving, that no matter what sin we commit in life, God will forgive us everything we have done, and Heaven is guaranteed for us. No, this is a wrong way of thinking, and we should keep this in mind before it is too late for us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, as we today together with all the saints pray for the sake of all the holy souls departed, and those suffering in Purgatory, let us also renew our commitment to live our lives faithfully in accordance with God’s will, in all the things we say and do, in all the things we perform, all the days of our lives. May the Lord have mercy on all the holy souls of the faithful departed, and grant them eternal rest. Welcome them all into Your kingdom, Lord. Amen.

Thursday, 2 November 2017 : All Souls Day (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Black or Purple

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.”

Thursday, 2 November 2017 : All Souls Day (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Black or Purple

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.

Thursday, 2 November 2017 : All Souls Day (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Black or Purple

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!

Thursday, 2 November 2017 : All Souls Day (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Black or Purple

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.

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.