With November just around the corner we want to focus on the month when the Church Militant acknowledges and honors the full Communion of Saints. On Sunday November 1st we honor all the blessed in Heaven, who are true saints whether they are on the Liturgical calendar or not. They are called the Church Triumphant. And we recognize and remember the Church Suffering - all the souls in Purgatory - on the next day, All Souls Day for they are closely linked with the saints in Heaven as are with us on earth. While they wait in painful longing to behold the Beatific Vision someday, we struggle here in our earthly exile to achieve our eternal reward.
There is confusion today about Purgatory. There are many Catholics who no longer believe in the existence of this place of purgation, of being purified of all stain of sin and punishment due to sin before we are worthy to stand in the unveiled presence of Almighty God. But Scripture tells us that it is a good and merciful practice to pray for our faithful departed, and the great Doctors of Holy Mother Church, and many mystics such as Padre Pio, confirm this belief and practice.
Our eyes cannot see nor can our minds understand the suffering of the Holy Souls. How can a soul suffer since it is not made of flesh and bone? This is for God to know, and for us, as His children, to believe. But, for a moment, consider the many times that you have seen a particular item which you desire. It might be a new car, a new television, some particular garment or a home that is beyond your financial means...But you've seen it, and the memory lingers on long after you've at least recognized that you'll never possess this thing. How painful is the loss, and even more painful the recurring memory of that which will not be in this earthly life? We've all experienced the shattering of earthly dreams. We can attest to that being Padre fans after this cruel World Series when defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory, but that's only a game. We're talking about eternity! Big, big difference!!!
If we can relate to finite things, then for a moment ponder upon the fact that at death your soul is taken into the presence of Almighty God for its particular judgment. And in that instant of eternity, your soul beholds the magnificence, the splendor and beauty of God! And then, in less time than the beat of a butterfly's wing, you are whisked off by your guardian angel to a place of purification, which Holy Mother Church calls Purgatory where atonement is to be made for all transgressions which have not been expiated for here on earth.
Your soul has seen God! For a brief, fleeting moment an everlasting memory is indelibly impressed on our heart and soul. It is an everlasting understanding of God that has never been permitted to you in your earthly life. And with this memory and knowledge, the soul knows that it is deprived of the Beatific Vision, and must remain in this place of suffering aided by the intercession in Heaven of the saints, and more importantly by those of us on earth who, by our sufferings, charitable works, and offerings of Holy Masses, are the only ones able to assist these poor holy souls, and release them from suffering into the unending splendor of the Beatific Vision. Would you not be grateful for all eternity to have been freed from suffering, so that you might forever rejoice in the presence of God? If we, in our humanity, would be grateful if someone gave to us a magnificent gift of that thing which we could never afford, so that we might know its pleasure on earth, how much more should we be grateful to have eternal joy as our ultimate reward? Take this week to contemplate that in preparation for All Saints Day and All Souls Day in two weeks and next week we will continue with this short series on the Communion of Saints.