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.