ETERNAL REST GRANT UNTO THEM O LORD AND LET THE PERPETUAL LIGHT SHINE ON THEM
(SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 02, 2019
ALL SOULS DAY)
Today we celebrate All Souls Day. We celebrate, reverence and remember those who have gone before us. We remember our loved ones – family, friends, colleagues, co-workers, neighbours and significant strangers. We remember those alive in our hearts, and those forgotten in history. We remember all who have gone before. All Souls’ Day, is 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 immediately merit and worthy of the glory and grace of heaven, in All Saints’ 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 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 separate 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 not. But that is the reality.
God does not abandon His people or cast them into hell. Rather, it is people conscious choice to reject the Lord and to continue in their rebellion against Him, and being unrepentant about it which leads them 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 an 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 unforgiving 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. 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 re-evaluate 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.
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.
Let Us Pray: Eternal Father grant etetnal rest to the faithful departed and give them a place in your kingdom. Amen.