Two great celebrations for the faithful Catholic are upon us. (Neither are Halloween, or trick or treat.) The Solemnity of All Saints and The Commemoration of All Souls celebrate the promise of Heaven (All Saints) and the mercy of God (All Souls).
All Saints is a Holy Day of Obligation. In this Mass we celebrate the Communion of Saints. The doctrine that those who have died and now live in Heaven with God comes to us from the very beginning. Through the Communion of Saints we grasp hope that God’s promises are true and that those who have been faithful (particularly the canonized Saints) are now in Heaven and share the Beatific Vision (they behold God’s glory and majesty).
St. Paul tells us that the Saints in Heaven cheer us on to victory in Christ. The Church teaches that they can intercede for us to Christ. They are role models and heroes for the faithful here on earth. We can be good and do good and think good while here, all with the promise that through our faithfulness and obedience to God, we too, will enjoy everlasting life with Him.
The day after All Saints is designated as All Souls. This celebration helps us to appreciate the great mercy of God through the doctrine of Purgatory. This teaching can be confusing to many people. Scripture makes clear that nothing which is not totally holy can enter Heaven. Purgatory (which means “purging” or “cleansing”) is the place where those who having confessed their sins, still have the temporal or time consequences of their sins moving through this earthly existence. When we die, God will judge us. Purgatory cleanses or purges away the bad fruits of our sins still rolling around. After this purgation, God joyfully calls us to Heaven. Purgatory is not a second chance, but, only a purifying event. If you go to purgatory, you go to Heaven. Hell is the only other place and it is eternal.
So, I encourage you to come to All Saints on November 1 at either the 8:00 a.m. or 7:00 p.m. Masses to fulfill your obligation to God. Come and sing with all the Saints now in glory. Boldly celebrate our future home. I invite you to make a special effort to come to the 8:00 a.m. morning Mass for All Souls on November 2. May these two great celebrations make us more aware of our eternal nature and our eternal destiny.