Today is October 31st and we all know what that is, right? Halloween! A day of trick-or-treating, an evening (or two or more…) of adult parties, and costumes. A month just completed of many horror films on television if you have the stomach for it.
But what does the word, Halloween actually mean? It means all hallows (holy) eve. It is the eve of All Saints Day, when we celebrate not only those who have been canonized by the Church as saints, but anyone who is in Heaven. I’m not going to comment on history or the evolution of Halloween; I’m sure you can find enough information on the internet!
November is the month we remember all the loved souls who have gone to their eternal rest. Very few of us, if any, have not been touched by death in some way. Our mortal bodies are just that: mortal. Thus, we all will face death someday. But because of our faith in the Risen Jesus, the death of our bodies is not the death of us. It is simply a change in our life, but the change is up to us. Our faith and hope in Jesus give great promise to a new and glorious life in Heaven with our loved ones and even some who may have been our enemies during our time here on Earth.
Then there is this word, Purgatory; what exactly is that? I wrote over 40 pages on this topic in my theology graduate studies, but I won’t go into great detail here. Purgatory is not a place; it is simply a state of purification of the soul to make it perfect. Heaven IS perfect; if it’s not, it would be no different than our lives here! The Catechism of the Catholic Church has this to say: “The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect (those bound for Heaven), which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.” (CCC, 1031). Purgatory is not scary; not even in the least! It makes our souls already burning with love for Jesus ready to see him face to face!
May we pray for our loved ones who have gone before us this month - and always, and may we pray for ourselves that one day we will be united with Jesus and all the saints!
- Deacon Jeff