At the beginning of November we celebrate the feasts of All Saints and All Souls Days, where we as part of the living Church on earth (the Church Militant) remembers and honours those who have gone before us and have entered into eternal life in heaven with Our Lord (the Church Triumphant) and then when we remember and pray for all the faithful departed and souls in Purgatory. In fact, the entire month of November is dedicated to Holy Souls. For us as Christians, praying for the dead is an important act of charity and this month we remember this in particular.
Along with praying for the dead and honouring the saints, these feasts and traditions bring to mind the reality of the brevity of our own time here on earth. It is often that death is reflected on with sadness and fear but we need to readjust our view, because it is really a reflection of our greatest hope! Through our belief in Jesus’ resurrection, any thoughts of death should bring to mind this great victory over Death and the eternal life that has been won for us. When we come to see that death is the means by which we come face to face with our loving God, it is no longer something to fear or dread but one to accept and embrace as a part of our life.
Pope Benedict once said that “in Christ, death no longer appears as an abyss of emptiness, but rather a path to life which will never end.” We know through the words of Jesus and the scriptures that there is certainly far more to our life than the time we experience on earth. All of God’s followers, both living and dead, are part of our church family and it is fantastic to know that those great and holy people that have gone before us to eternity are still close to us in our earthly life.
So this month, remember and pray for those who have died and are in purgatory including those who died alone, unknown and who have nobody else to pray for them. Let us also remember the saints who have reached eternity with God and who we can ask to pray for and with us as we continue on our earthly journey, that we may too join them in an eternal life with God.