Today, November 2, is the Feast of All Souls.
Today, the Church commemorates all those who have gone before us in the faith and who are being purged of the temporal punishment for their sins in purgatory. We pray for them, that they will soon be released pure and unblemished into the fullness of God’s glorious Kingdom.
Why do we pray for the dead? Are they not beyond help now? What more can be done for them?”
It is the faith of the Church from the beginning that those who have died and who may be in need of further cleansing of their souls from the temporal punishments due to their sins can benefit from the prayers and sacrifices of those saints in heaven and those saints on earth.
There are many Scriptures that speak to this mystery:
2 Maccabees 12:38-46; Wisdom 3:1-9; Sirach 7:32-33; Zechariah 13:7-9; Malachi3:2-3; Matthew 5:23-26; Matthew 12:32; Luke 12:58-59; Luke 16:19-31; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15; Philippians 3:11-12; 2 Timothy 1:16-18; Hebrews 12:29; 1 Peter 1:6-7; 1 Peter 4:6; Revelation 3:18-19; Revelation 20:11-13; Revelation 21:27
In 2 Maccabees 12:38-46 we have the example of Judas making atonement for the men who had died in battle because they had worn under their tunics tokens sacred to the idols of false gods. It was clear to Judas and the others that these Jewish soldiers were cut down in battle as God’s punishment for their idolatry. To ask God’s mercy on them, Judas took up a collection and sent it to Jerusalem as a sin offering. “Therefore,” the author of 2 Maccabees writes, “he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.”
In 2 Timothy 1:16-18, St. Paul prays for God’s mercy on Onesiphorus, St. Paul’s friend who had rendered him great service while in Ephesus.
As well, there is ample testimony from the early Church and among the Fathers of the Church on the efficacy of prayers for the dead, including the testimony of the Epitaph of Abercius, Bishop of Heiropolis, who died c. AD 167. Prior to his death, he arranged for an epitaph to be placed over his grace, which gave testimony to his Christian faith and asked for the prayers of his fellow believers for after his death:
“He that discerneth these things, every fellow-believer [namely], let him pray for Abercius.”
I thank God for the gift of purgatory. I know that I struggle to be faithful and that I so often fail. At death, I place my soul into the hands of the Great Physician Who can heal my soul from any venial sins and temporal punishments left. I place my soul into the hands of the One Who loves me and Who desires eternal life for me.
Each year on All Souls Day, and for the month of November, we place in our home a list of those loved ones who have died, to remind us to pray for them through this month. This year, we lost a good friend, Jim McNulty, who passed away in September.
George J. Hunt
Ruth C. Hunt
Erin Corwin and baby
Nancy Fiest and baby Peter
Fr. David Findlay
Dr. Robert C. Hunt
Teresa Marie Hunt
Maria Tilly Myers
Fr. Bill Stelling
Fr. J. Keith Zavelli
For all those who have gone before us in the faith, let us pray: Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and may perpetual life shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.