Remembering Souls in November

Created with images found in Wikipedia. All of...We just celebrated two important, yet often overlooked, religious feast days.  On November 1st we celebrated “All Saints Day” and on November 2nd we celebrated “All Souls Day.”  If you went to Mass on one or both days then good for you (FYI, All Saints Day was a Holy Day of Obligation for all those able to attend).  If you did not attend Mass or just forgot about these feast days then here’s a quick recap on how they relate to the rosary.

All Saints Day, as the name implies, is a time when we remember the saints of the Catholic Church.  We look to the saints as examples of how to live God’s will.  They made sacrifices in this life knowing that there was much more to their existence than what they could experience on Earth.  They made that giant leap of faith that God called them to do more than just live for the earthly pleasures of this world.  When we pray the rosary, we should remember the saints when we pray the First Glorious Mystery and recall Jesus’ resurrection.  Jesus showed us through His resurrection that there is so much more to our existence than what we see in this world.  And while we may know and profess this when we pray, being able to have the courage to actively live for Jesus’ Kingdom of Heaven is what truly makes someone a saint.  And just as Jesus rose from the dead to redeem all humanity, we should remember that He calls everyone to be a saint.  It doesn’t matter whether you go to Mass every day or have not been in a church for years.  We all have the ability to receive forgiveness and resolve to do God’s will.  Remember, the first saints denied they even knew Jesus (Saint Peter) and abandoned Him at His Crucifixion (the apostles).  But through the gift of the Holy Spirit, they found the strength to ultimately live as true disciples of Christ.  If they could become saints, then any one of us can be one as well.

Another image of souls being purified by flame...On All Souls Day we remember all those who have died.  I think All Souls Day is one of the most important, yet least celebrated, feast days in the Church (unless you live in a country that actively celebrates “The Day of the Dead”).  We remember those who have left this world and who now exist in either Purgatory or Heaven.  It is especially important to pray for those in Purgatory because they rely on our prayers for their final purification.  Think about how frustrating it must be to exist in Purgatory.  You are so close to the eternal joy and happiness of Heaven and yet you’re not quite there.  And there is nothing you can do to get into Heaven yourself.  You are completely reliant on others’ prayers and God’s mercy.  And you know what?  Not to scare you, but most of us will probably find ourselves in this state of existence one day.

So pray for those in Purgatory.  Encourage others to pray for those in Purgatory.  Because the more people who actively pray for souls in Purgatory now will mean that there will be more people praying for you and those you love when you enter that last step before entering Heaven.  I encourage you to make praying for the souls in Purgatory part of praying the rosary.  One of my concluding prayers is “Saint Gertrude’s Prayer.”  The Lord told St. Gertrude that He would release 1,000 souls from Purgatory each time it is offered in sincerity.  Personally, I find it staggering how many souls must be in Purgatory if this 30 second, twelfth century prayer release so many.  So many souls are counting on your prayers and you, one day, will be counting on others in order for you to make that final leap into God’s Kingdom of Heaven.

Saint Gertrude’s Prayer

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.

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