November 2, and another special day in the Church’s calendar. All Souls Day.
Today we remember our loved ones gone from this world to continue a new life in the next. Throughout the Catholic world today, people will pray for the souls of these family and friends that their souls may be at peace. The faithful may attend one of the three Masses offered for the deceased in each Catholic Church today. They are encouraged to visit a cemetery and pray for those buried there, especially for those departed souls who have no-one to offer prayers for them.
In many countries, the graves will be adorned with candles and flowers and special prayers will be recited. It is of great importance that we remember to pray for the dead as we believe that they have need of such prayer to enter Heaven. In Catholic theology, Purgatory is an intermediate state after physical death in which souls destined for Heaven must first “undergo purification”, so as to achieve that pure state necessary to enter the joy of Heaven”. The purification is necessary because, as Scripture teaches, “Nothing unclean will enter the presence of God in Heaven” (Revelation:21:27). They can no longer gain merit for their own souls and rely heavily on our generosity and compassion to assist them. Read the writings of numerous Saints who will verify the state of the souls resident in this purgative place. It is an ancient practice to pray for the dead, indeed stretching back to the time of St Paul, Thecla and the early Christian martyrs.
Let us remember them today and every day, making conscious efforts to pray and offer little sacrifices, especially during this month of November. Scripture also records the words of Judas Maccabeus :It is a holy and good thing to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins.”