Who will you remember on All Souls Day?

10-29-2023Pastor's LetterVery Rev. Richard C. Wilson, VF, Pastor

Dear Friends in Christ,

This week on Wednesday, we will celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints, a holy day of obligation. This provides us with the opportunity to rejoice that there are countless people who have gone before us who are now enjoying the beatific vision, all the glories of living within the love of the Most Holy Trinity.

Then on Thursday, we will celebrate All Souls Day. On this day we recognize that many who die in a state of grace are not immediately prepared to stand before God and see Him face-to-face. God cannot look upon sin. The only way possible for us to stand before an all-righteous God is if every attachment to sin is purged from souls. But we should ask, how many people die in such a state?

Throughout the centuries, Holy Mother Church has taught that those who die with an attachment to less serious or venial sin, must be purified in order to enter into heaven. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.” (CCC, 1030–31a)

On All Souls Day, the church invites us to pray for those souls who have died and are in purgatory. This doctrine may strike some people as somewhat vindictive on the part of God, as if a soul needed a bit more punishing before entering heaven. The reality is much simpler. Imagine a young man who broke up with one girlfriend to date another. If, in his conversations with the new girlfriend, he kept referring to the previous one, saying things like “She used to dress like this,” or “She used to talk like that,” it would seem that his attachment to the previous girlfriend hinders his freedom to commit fully to the new one. Having chosen to leave sin and selfishness behind, souls in purgatory have accepted God’s mercy and have chosen to enter into a “new” relationship with God. However, there are residual effects from their previous sins that need purification if they are going to love fully. The souls in purgatory want to have their love purified to be able to love God more perfectly. May all of us grow in our love of God and neighbor. And...may we faithfully pray for all the souls in purgatory that they may more quickly enter into the heavenly kingdom to be with God forever.

All the best…in Christ,

Father Wilson