Homily Ė Commemoration of All Souls
Today we celebrate the Commemoration of All Souls. In particular today we pray for all the souls of the Church Suffering: that is all those souls who have died and are in purgatory awaiting their entrance into heaven. Our readings are full of hope and promise of the good things to come if we should choose to follow Christ faithfully.
Throughout the readings today we hear of Godís plan of salvation for all people. It is Godís will that all should be saved, but obviously some choose to refuse Godís gift of salvation. First we discuss the promise. From all eternity God created us for himself and his pleasure. As many of your remember from the Baltimore catechism, the reason God created us is: God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven. This is the truth of who you are and why you exist. Our modern day world would like you to think there is no God. That man isnít the product of design but rather of random chance. Two amoebas found each other, got excited and here we are. That is about as likely as two wood ants got together and built the parish of St. Michael, complete with the podium and speaker system I am using and they did it without any direction. I donít think I could sell many on that idea. This building is clearly a result of design and purpose. You are much more complex than a building. You too are a creation of a Creator, and you have a purpose. He might have used Amoebaís; he might have used something else. Those items are irrelevant. What is relevant is that you were created and I already told you why: to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven.
God did not create a single one of us to spend eternity in Hell. That is not his will. Some will disagree with me but scripture is clear. It is not his will that a single one of the little ones be lost. Our first reading says God provides for all peoples. In todayís Gospel Christ says he will not reject anyone who comes to him. Scripture says that God is love. The definition of love is to will the good of the other. God by His very nature, by what and who he is, wills our good. That is love. That is God.
So the question arises: How can there be a hell? Hell exists because God gave us free will and we can choose to reject Godís purpose for our lives. We can choose to remain apart from him forever. God will give us every grace imaginable to help us to choose him. Our first reading tells us He will destroy death, remove reproach, he will save us. Our second reading tells us that he will give his only Son up to death that we might rise with him to new life through baptism, he will conquer death for us. In the Gospel that he wills us to come to him, that if we believe he will raise us to eternal life.
The one thing God wonít do for us is to make the choice for us. That would be to make us slaves. We are created free, in His image. We must choose life if we are to have it or else to choose death. We do that by choosing to live our lives according to Godís purpose or we choose to live our lives rebelling against Godís purpose.
Through our baptism we are given divine life within us. We die to sin and rise to the newness of life as our second reading tells us. Some times we choose to kill the life within us. At our baptism our parents were told to bring us up in the constant practice of the faith. See that the divine life which God gives us is kept save from the poison of sin, to grow always stronger in our hearts. Sin is poison to our souls. It kills the growth of life in us. Our second reading says ďif we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection.Ē We must grow with Christ. We must stop drinking from the cup of poison that sin is.
If someone is constantly drinking from a cup of poison then they cannot expect to have a healthy life. If they drink to deeply from the cup of sin then death follows. Some people choose to drink and drink deeply from this cup. They stop drinking from the cup of life and start drinking from the cup of death. They choose murder, anger, adultery, they choose gossip, lying, stealing. They choose not to honor God every Sunday and honor their own desires. They choose hate, racism, abortion, euthanasia. They donít want God to be a part of their sexuality but want to do it their own way. They choose to not live according to Godís plan. They choose death.
We must choose to drink from the cup of life. Even though the medicine might not taste sweet to us and the poison tastes sweeter we must drink from that which heals our souls. Godís purpose for us is happiness and eternal life with him. But we must choose to live according to his purpose or we choose to live according to our own. One way is life and the other death.
I think you have a pretty idea of how to get to heaven and how to get to hell. So where then does purgatory fit in. Purgatory is the act of a merciful and loving God who wants us to have life and life to the full. We can not enjoy the fullness of life in heaven if our souls still have the vestiges of the poison of sin in them. Our souls must be completely healthy to be with God. They must be purged of all poison of sin before they can be in heaven. The slightest impurity or trace of poison cannot exist in the presence of God in heaven. Purgatory is where we go when we have not drunk so deeply from the cup of sin that we have died an eternal death. Yet we all drink occasionally from the cup of sin and must be healed. Isnít it enough to be sorry? Many of us are sorry we drank poison but that doesnít take away the damage the poison has done. Purgatory is the place where the damage is healed. We are purified and then we can enter into heaven. It is an act of a merciful God who in Justice can allow not sin or impurity into Heaven but in Mercy allows us to be free from it without being condemned to hell for it. It is our means of purification so we can achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of Heaven and look upon God face to face. Most of us arenít quite there when we die and God in his love an Mercy provides for us yet again.
Today we pray for all the souls in purgatory. We pray for their continuing purification. We pray for their sanctification that will allow them to face God pure and unblemished, free from the addiction to sin. We pray for them because death no longer separates those reborn in Christ. Christ conquered death and it is a barrier no more. We pray for them and they in turn pray for us. So I want to encourage each one of you, at some point in the day outside of mass, to say a prayer for the poor souls in purgatory. I commend to you a special prayer that is available to you today and that is that everyone of us can receive a plenerary indulgence for a soul in purgatory on the feast of All Souls. This indulgence, applies the merits of Christ toward the temporal debt of a soul in purgatory and wipes it out. I am pretty sure you donít want another homily on indulgences so I recommend you to go to Catholic.com (that is easy to remember) to read more about them. This indulgence can be gained by meeting the following requirements:
1. You have to go to confession within 8 days.
2. You have to receive communion worthily in days. If you go to confession and go to mass next week then this should be easy.
3. You have to pray for the intentions so the Holy Father John Paul II. Specifically you pray one Apostleís creed and one Our Father. Preferrably while in Church today but outside of mass. So stay a little after or go to the Chapel.
4. You have to want to get the indulgence and apply it to a dead person of your choice. If you donít have someone in mind I recommend you apply it to the person who has been in purgatory the longest.
5. You have to have visited a Church on All Souls day but since youíre here this one is taken care of.

I encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity. If I were in Purgatory and released as a result of your mercy and prayer on my behalf you bet I would be most grateful and faithful in praying for you. Itís quite a deal.

We should ask the prayer of the saints and poor souls. They have made it to where we want to be. They desire for us our perfect happiness.
Finally your doing this for a poor soul of purgatory is an act of mercy. And as scripture says: Blessed are the merciful, for mercy shall be theirs. And we are all a people in need of mercy living for the Hope of Godís eternal promise if we choose to live according to his plan for our life.


5 Responses to “”

  1. Joan of Bark Says:

    “Purgatory is where we go when we have not drunk so deeply from the cup of sin that we have died an eternal death. . . . Purgatory is the place where the damage is healed.”

    Just a gentle reminder:

    “Purification must be complete, and indeed this is precisely what is meant by the Church’s teaching on purgatory. The term does not indicate a place, but a condition of existence. Those who, after death, exist in a state of purification, are already in the love of Christ who removes from them the remnants of imperfection.”

    From Pope John Paul II, General Audience, 4 August, 1999

  2. Denise Says:

    Maybe, Joan, it is a limitation of our minds, which have difficulty in understanding the ineffable (pretty much by definition), rather than a true clash of vision of reality? (Sorry, I am not meaning to butt in but just my 2 cents)
    I read a meditation for today that described purgatory as “God’s welcome mat”, where (or in which state) we brush off al detritus (all that is not like God, all sin and stain) before crossing the threshhold into heaven. I rather liked that one.
    Thanks for the reminder on the plenary indulgence, Father. My daughter and I are getting right on this one, as it is too good to pass up! In general, I very much like the straight ahead nature of your himilies, and that you are very up front with Catholic fundamentals. Today, as usual, does not disappoint,
    Peace and all Good!

  3. Denise Says:

    Duhh, that’s HOMilies! Sorry.

  4. Father Todd Reitmeyer Says:

    Your right. It is the process. Place is speculation but still valid speculation from probable sources. Time and location both are probable rather than dogmatic but they help people to understand and that is why I used the language explaining it to the people in my congregation.

  5. Joan of Bark Says:

    Ok, I can see your point — but then how do we reconcile this idea with the words of the Holy Father? Please understand that I’m not criticizing you. However, often conflicting information exists within the church, and it’s hard for people to know what to think or believe. It used to be that people would take guidance from their priest, but even priests disagree with each other. What are your thoughts on this?

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