Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls’ Day)

(Wisdom 3:1-9; Romans 5:5-11; John 6:37-40)

A man writes from prison that he does not like being a drug addict. He is ashamed to have disappointed his family and ruined his life. But he finds himself helpless confronting drugs -- he simply cannot stop taking them. Other people find themselves similarly challenged by sexual desire, gossip, stealing, you name it. We do not surrender hope for their souls when they die, but pray for God’s mercy on them.

Today, the Feast of All Souls, the Church sets aside to pray for all who have died without living fully Jesus’ Gospel. It’s an ancient custom that clashes with our conception of cause and effect. “If the person’s life has ended,” many ask today, “what good does it do to pray for her? She has already decided for or against God.” “Yes,” we should answer, “but since God’s love is eternal, that is outside the bounds of time, He provides the grace of repentance for those who have already died.” Furthermore, God’s infinite mercy appreciates an individual’s involuntary weakness that may mitigate any offense committed.

We can add that our prayers for the dead redound to ourselves. They are acts of mercy that make us stronger believers and more accomplished Christians. There is good reason for us to pray for the dead today and every day. Our prayers elicit the forgiveness of their sins as they shore up our souls against our own sinfulness.