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All Souls Day

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The souls of the just are in the hands of God,
and no torment shall touch them
” ~ Wisdom 3:1

A powerful promise serves to kick off today’s Readings as we observe The Commemoration Of All The Faithful Departed, or All Souls Day.

Our 1st Reading (Wisdom 3:1-9) is often chosen for the celebration of the Catholic Funeral Mass, for within this passage are words of hope, words that remind us that our cross-laden journey was not made in vain, this despite the foolish presumptions of the unenlightened and faithless. Whereas those who chase the illusion of secular joy view death as an ending, those infused with the gift of hope know better. From time to time whenever I encounter someone who bemoans the passing of another birthday and the aging that accompanies it by saying “Well... I guess it beats the alternative” I’ll smile at them and say “That’s not what I hear.” Is hope contagious? Well, it’s my hope that it is.

The baton of hope is subsequently passed to Saint Paul in our 2nd Reading (Romans 5:5-11) wherein the tireless prophet begins by reminding us that “hope does not disappoint,” going on to explain this notion through the prism of the Holy Spirit in conjunction with Jesus’ death and resurrection. “God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” Paul explains, going on to ask “How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath?” An immeasurably generous promise from an immeasurably generous God, who through Baptism, has sealed us with the gift of the Holy Spirit, going on to grant us the gift of his only begotten Son by way of the Eucharist, this food for the journey which nourishes our hearts, our minds, our bodies and our souls.

And lest anyone believe that the gift of Jesus’ saving presence isn’t a gift that is granted to all of God’s beloved children, for it is in today’s Gospel (John 6:37-40) wherein Jesus says point blank “Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from Heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me.”

And what is the will of God, the one who sent Jesus his Son? “....”that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day."

On this the day we commemorate All Souls Day, let us take a moment to pray for those who have lost this great gift of hope. Let’s pray for those who have no one to pray for them. Let’s pray relentlessly for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Pray, pray and pray some more. In doing so, it is one immensely powerful way in which we can do our part here on Earth as God’s servants to insure that Jesus “should not lose any of the souls that our God has given him.”

I leave you with the prayer that our Lord Jesus gave to Saint Gertrude the Great and in doing so, promised the release of 1,000 Souls from Purgatory every time it is prayed:

Eternal Father, I offer thee the most precious blood of you divine Son Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, sinners in the Universal Church, those in my own home and within my family.” ~ Amen