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.

(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!