Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s,
Thank you for your support of Sacred Heart School at the Gala this past Saturday. To my great surprise (and delight), I won the recliner donated by Kelly’s Furniture. Numerous people have suggested that I make it my presider’s chair in the sanctuary. For the time being, I think I will leave it in my bedroom!
November, beginning with All Souls’ Day on November 2nd, is a special time of the year when we pray for those who have gone before us. This coming week we will have a special Mass of Remembrance where we remember and pray for our loved ones. We will have one at Sacred Heart on Tuesday, the 19th, at 6pm (please note the time change from the typical 5:45pm Mass) and one at St. Mary on the Lake on Wednesday, the 21st, at 6pm. On the 21st at St. Mary’s there will not be the usual 9:15am morning Mass. Please join us for these beautiful Masses.
It is during this month that there is a special focus on praying for the souls in purgatory. People ask what that means. When it comes to understanding purgatory, I have always loved this description by Pope Benedict XVI. He wrote:
There will be few people whose lives are pure and fulfilled in all respects. And, we would hope, there will be few people whose lives have become an irredeemable and total No. For the most part, the longing for good has remained, despite many breakdowns, in some sense determinative.
God can pick up the broken pieces and make something of them. In any case, we need a final cleansing, a cleansing by fire, to be exact, in which the gaze of Christ, so to say, burns us free from everything, and only under this purifying gaze are we, as it were, fit to be with God and able, then, to make our home with him… I think it is something very human. I would go so far as to say that if there was no purgatory, then we would have to invent it, for who would dare say of himself that he was able to stand directly before God. And yet we don’t want to be, to use an image from Scripture, “a pot that turned out wrong,” that has to be thrown away; we want to be able to be put right.
Purgatory basically means that God can put the pieces back together again. That he can cleanse us in such a way that we are able to be with him and can stand there in the fullness of life. Purgatory strips off from one person what is unbearable and from another the inability to bear certain things, so that in each of them a pure heart is revealed, and we can see that we all belong together in one enormous symphony of being.
I love this description of purgatory because it captures how it is an experience of love–a love that makes us whole. We need to remember that purgatory is not a bad thing but a blessing, the final fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to perfect us. It is not something to be afraid of but seen with joy, for it is to be made whole again. One of the ways we can accompany those who have gone before us is to pray for them, as they are now in the purifying presence of Love.
Let us pray well this month for all deceased!