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Praying for the Poor Souls

First Reading: Wisdom 3:1-9

The souls of the just are in the hand of God,
and no torment shall touch them.
They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead;
and their passing away was thought an affliction
and their going forth from us, utter destruction.
But they are in peace.
For if before men, indeed, they be punished,
yet is their hope full of immortality;
chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed,
because God tried them
and found them worthy of himself.
As gold in the furnace, he proved them,
and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.
In the time of their visitation they shall shine,
and shall dart about as sparks through stubble;
they shall judge nations and rule over peoples,
and the LORD shall be their King forever.
Those who trust in him shall understand truth,
and the faithful shall abide with him in love:
because grace and mercy are with his holy ones,
and his care is with his elect.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 23:1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6

R. Though I walk in the valley of darkness, I fear no evil, for you are with me.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
R. Though I walk in the valley of darkness, I fear no evil, for you are with me.
He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
with your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
R. Though I walk in the valley of darkness, I fear no evil, for you are with me.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. Though I walk in the valley of darkness, I fear no evil, for you are with me.
Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
R. Though I walk in the valley of darkness, I fear no evil, for you are with me.

Second Reading: Romans 5:5-11
Brothers and sisters:
Hope does not disappoint,
because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
For Christ, while we were still helpless,
died at the appointed time for the ungodly.
Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person,
though perhaps for a good person
one might even find courage to die.
But God proves his love for us
in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.
How much more then, since we are now justified by his Blood,
will we be saved through him from the wrath.
Indeed, if, while we were enemies,
we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son,
how much more, once reconciled,
will we be saved by his life.
Not only that,
but we also boast of God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Gospel: John 6:37-40

Jesus said to the crowds:
“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 this is the will of the one who sent me,
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.”

NAB

nov 2

It was the hottest week of the year in Saint Louis, and my family was making our summer visit to my parents’ house. One night towards the end of the trip I woke up with a chill over my body from a dream. I don’t remember the bulk of the dream, but at the end a silver four-door sedan pulled across the grass and stopped with the driver’s side next to me. My deceased great-grandmother rolled down the window and asked me with a solemn face, “When are you coming to see me?” She then rolled up the window and drove away.

I awoke unsettled and unsure. As I lay in my bed I realized that we only had one day left in Saint Louis, and during that last day, I could go see her. I could go to her grave and pray for her, and in doing so, I could earn her a partial indulgence (partial remission of temporal punishment due to sin). She passed away over 20 years ago, but many of her descendants are no longer Catholic. Who, if not me, is praying for her soul?

In the Gospel, Jesus said, “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 the last day, those who believe will be raised. But that does not take away our temporal punishment due to sin. Purgatory is a purging of our souls so that we can be fully ready for Heaven, and my great-grandmother could have very well been asking me for prayers for her soul.

Today is All Souls day, and we are called today to pray for the souls of those in purgatory, so much so that the Church gives plenary indulgences* (full remission of temporal punishment due to sin)  to souls in purgatory when we on All Souls Day “devoutly visit a church or an oratory and recite an Our Father and the Creed.” Also, “on any and each day from November 1 to 8, devoutly visit a cemetery and pray, if only mentally, for the departed” (From the Manual of Indulgences (Fourth Edition, 1999).

So, this day of All Souls’, get thee to a church and this week to a cemetery, and pray for the dead. If you don’t, who will? Intercede for them, and they will intercede for you!

Requiem aeternam: Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let the perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. (Order of Christian Funerals)

*From the Catechism of the Catholic Church on Indulgences:

1478    An indulgence is obtained through the Church who, by virtue of the power of binding and loosing granted her by Christ Jesus, intervenes in favor of individual Christians and opens for them the treasury of the merits of Christ and the saints to obtain from the Father of mercies the remission of the temporal punishments due for their sins. Thus the Church does not want simply to come to the aid of these Christians, but also to spur them to works of devotion, penance, and charity.

1479    Since the faithful departed now being purified are also members of the same communion of saints, one way we can help them is to obtain indulgences for them, so that the temporal punishments due for their sins may be remitted.”

photo by Corynne Olivia

Susanna Spencer once studied theology and philosophy, but now happily cares for her three adorable little girls, new baby boy, and her dear husband in Saint Paul. She loves beautiful liturgies, cooking delicious meals, baking amazing sweets, reading good books, raising her children, casually following baseball, and talking to her philosopher husband. You can find out more about her here.

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