At the beginning of November, the Church throughout the world celebrates the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (otherwise known as All Souls Day). This celebration reminds the faithful to pray for all the deceased. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us: “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 1030-1031).
A discouraging trend in recent years necessitates remembering the reality of purgatory. Prior to the Covid pandemic fewer and fewer families decided to offer a funeral Mass for a deceased family member. Funeral home services and simple committals became more popular. The pandemic only exacerbated this trend toward fewer Masses for the deceased both at funeral Masses and regular parish Masses.
All Souls Day reminds Catholics that the souls in purgatory need our help. By our Masses here on earth, we assist the souls undergoing the purification process in the next life. Since purgatory exists outside of time, whether we offer the Masses today, tomorrow, or thousands of years from now, the salvific effects of those Masses will help the deceased. This November begin the habit of offering a Mass for a deceased family member, friend, or even someone completely unknown to you. God willing, someday in heaven you will discover how the Masses you offered here on earth helped the souls in purgatory.
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