On Nov. 2, we celebrate the feast of All Souls, also known as the Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed. It is a day dedicated to remembering all of those who have gone before us and praying for the repose of their souls in a particularly focused way. Yet, as Fr. Michael reminds us, we ought to pray for the dead all throughout the year.
“It is a spiritual work of mercy to pray for both the living and the dead,” Fr. Michael says. “Works of mercy are real. They provide special grace for us here and now.”
As we are obtaining grace by enacting such works of mercy, and as we pray for the dead, they too are obtaining graces through our prayers.
Those who die in a state of grace but not yet perfected await their sanctification in purgatory. There, they undergo a final purification through prayer and suffering. This purification is necessary because Scripture teaches us that nothing unclean can enter the presence of God in heaven (Rev. 21:27). And so, uniting their suffering with Christ on the cross, the souls of those in purgatory — also known as the Church Suffering — long for their welcome into eternal glory. And so, we pray, knowing our prayers will bear great fruit!
“We want their sanctification to be quickened,” Fr. Michael says. “That is why we pray for the dead. Even Scripture talks about praying for the dead, in both the Old and the New Testament.”
On the feast of All Souls, our 8:30 a.m. Mass will be offered for all the souls in purgatory. In addition, Fr. Michael will offer a Mass at Gulf Cemetery at noon, followed by blessing and praying at the many graves around the grounds. He encourages all of us to join him at one of those Masses. Yet, he is quick to emphasize that it shouldn’t stop there.
“We ought to go to funerals throughout the year — even for those we don’t know,” he says. “We ought to have Masses offered for those who have passed away all throughout the year. This is not something that we should focus on simply on Nov. 2. Our prayers for the living and the dead should persist. After all, we want people to pray for us, too!”
May we all take the time now and throughout the coming years to offer fervent prayers for the faithfully departed, commending them to the mercy of our Lord!