Saturday, November 01, 2008

Thinking about All Souls Day

Time for a rant

I was just thinking a bit about All Souls Day in relation to getting things ready for the Masses this Sunday. I have to admit, I have been really disappointed with what seems to be a new perspective on the day. It seems like we should stop calling it "All Souls Day" and start calling it "All Saints Part II."

I don't know if it is just me, but when I was looking over the readings, particularly the ones that were "suggested" on the USCCB website, I just found the readings to be completely inappropriate for the occasion.

When I look at All Souls Day, I see a day in which we are focused on praying for all the faithful departed who have died in the state of grace but have had to go to Purgatory. They need our prayers because they are still being purified of their vices, bad habits, and imperfections, which is most likely a suffering. I sort of look at All Souls Day as a really big funeral Mass. And traditionally that is the way it has been treated. In the extraordinary form, you did not have funeral Masses or celebrate All Souls Day on a Sunday. It was just moved to the following Monday. Strangely, I don't think you can have masses for the dead on Sundays in the ordinary form, yet for some reason All Souls Masses can be said on Sunday, even though the Liturgy of the Hours is just taken from what the current Sunday would be if All Souls didn't fall on it.

Like I said, the readings seem totally inappropriate. Instead of helping us understand that those who die most likely have to go through Purgatory, and thus they need our prayers to help release them from their suffering so they can be brought into the Presence of God, the readings seem to overemphasize the resurrection, which is odd because even the damned will be resurrected. The important thing is where we ultimately end up: Heaven or Hell. The readings seem to give the impression that, "when someone dies, they are just shot into the arms of Jesus." The readings seem to tell us they are already saved and in Heaven. It's like the liturgy just says "don't worry about them, they're fine, no reason to pray for them." It's as though they (whoever "they" are) don't want us to think that just maybe we might be punished for our sins, even if it is a temporary punishment for those who die in the state of grace.

Anyway, I just want to re-emphasize that God is a just God and we all will have to make amends for our sins. Yet, God is a merciful God too. However, it is our duty in the Church Militant to pray for and help as much as possible our brethren in the Church Suffering. This is why I try to help explain plenary indulgences and how to obtain them. So, please on All Souls try to obtain a plenary indulgence for a poor soul in purgatory. And always remember to pray for the faithful departed. I especially like to pray for those who are suffering the most in purgatory and for those who have no one to pray for them.

And remember, this also applies to funerals as well. We certainly hope that the person died in the state of grace, but even if they did, we need to pray for them so that if they are in Purgatory, God will be merciful and bring them to Himself.

Anyway, yes, I'm tired and had to rant a bit, but I just wanted to add my reflections on All Souls Day and hopefully correct some of this improper perspective that has crept into the liturgy in the last 40 years.