VIEWS: 7 PAGES: 2 POSTED ON: 4/18/2011
By tradition, the month of November is dedicated to our beloved dead. From earliest days, the Church has prayed for her deceased members and offered the sacrifice of the Mass in their behalf. Why has she prayed for the dead? Because the dead are in need of our prayers: they have yet to complete their journey to the Lord. The Bible teaches that only those who are without sin may stand in the presence of God. Yet, relatively few of us attain to such holiness in this life. Most of us leave this world with some attachment to sin from which we must be purified. That is why we pray for the dead. Our prayers comfort and assist them in their process of purification even as our prayers comforted and assisted them in this life. For those who die in mortal sin, of course, there is no hope. They have hardened their hearts against God and refused repentance. But for those who die in venial sin, there is certain hope that God will remain faithful to His promise and grant them eternal life. The process of purification from sin—what we call purgatory—begins in this life. When, for love of God and neighbor, we do penance for our sins through acts of self-denial, our hearts become more pure. We grow stronger and closer to God. It is God who begins this good work in us by moving us to a true sorrow for our sins, but it is we who must cooperate with His grace by redirecting our will and its desires to the divine will. The amount of purgation that our loved ones must undergo before entering into full union with God is usually beyond our ability to know. That is why we always pray for our dead unless God gives us some certain sign that they have already attained to the fullness of life in heaven. For instance, the Church has always believed that martyrdom in this life fully cleanses of all sin and enables the martyr to enter directly into heaven. The Church can also come to certain knowledge in other cases where the holiness of a person inspires widespread devotion and is confirmed through divine miracles worked through the dead person’s intercession. The Church believes that whenever we advance in holiness, we strengthen not only ourselves but also all the faithful, living and deceased. This is based on the Scriptural principle of solidarity: “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” (1 Corinthians 12:26) This principle underlies the Church’s practice of praying for the dead. Our advance in holiness, when done for love of them, also helps them to advance closer to the Lord. So this November, let us remember our beloved dead and pray for them. Have a great week. Father Tappe
"By tradition, the month of November is dedicated to our beloved dead"