Catholic Faith Corner

Living in the Light
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Catholic Faith Corner

Living in the Light
of Jesus Christ

Mindful of Our Deceased Loved Ones

thAt our parish in November, the month of the poor souls, we write the names of deceased loved ones in a book. This year there is a new twist. Our pastor invited us to bring pictures of our departed relatives and place them on the window sills of the church. The pictures will surround us, reminding us that these people are with us celebrating the Eucharist. They are still present and loving us, although they are invisible. They exist in another dimension, one that we too will be slipping into one day. As holy as these people were on earth, there is no guarantee that they are in heaven (unless the Church has canonized them). Therefore, we don’t call them saints, but poor souls. My friend, a monsignor who was reader for my writing, preferred the term “holy” souls. He pointed out that the people in purgatory were not really poor because they were not in hell. They are just undergoing purification before living with God. They do not yet feel worthy to appear before their all-holy Creator who loves them.

Because everyone in the Church is united and share in one another’s good works, we can pray for the holy souls. We offer Masses for them and pray the traditional prayer, “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace.” One family I know prays this whenever they are traveling and pass a cemetery. It’s also a good practice to pray for a deceased person who has no one else to pray for him or her. Just as we pray (talk) to Jesus, Mary, and the saints, we can speak to those who have left us for the next world. They can also pray for us and help us as they did in this life.

Of course, all of these practices depend on the fact that there is life after death. We take Christ’s word for it. He promised it was true and rose from the dead himself to prove it.

As you celebrate this year’s “triduum” (Hallow’s Eve, All Saints, and All Souls), you might renew your efforts to make sure that you become one of the holy souls.

What practice do you have to remember the holy souls?

3 Responses

  1. I talk to my deceased loved ones almost daily. Both my father and my mother are deceased, and I talk to them often and pray for their souls that they might gain entrance into heaven (if they have not already). I also visit their graves periodically to share a closer connection with them. Another of my deceased loved ones is a very holy and humble diocesan priest who was my dear friend for more than 30 years. He was called to God in 2006. I wear a religious locket with his photo inside at all times (except for daily showering). It was he who encouraged me to obtain a degree in Sacred Theology (I was an English major). I could feel his beautiful spirit encouraging me, and because I could, I feel – but don’t know, of course – that he is in heaven now. I pray for him and to him, and I look forward to being reunited with him and my mother and father some day. I also visit his grave. And I contribute to the purchase of the Christmas and Easter flowers at my church in memory of my friend and my parents. I miss the physical presence of all three so much, but the heart has answers that could never be articulated in words. One only has to be silent and learn to listen.

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