The Church never forgets you. Over the course of the year we will pray for every portion and class of humanity, no matter where or in what difficulty or sorrow. Jesus Christ took on the full burden of human experience in his life and during his passion, and so now his Church too must look to the needs of all its members.
In November our concern reaches even beyond earthly shores. We remember those who have gone before us, family and friends, and who now may be going through a time of being purified and made ready for the face-to-face vision of God in the great banquet of Heaven. We call this Purgatory, and the Catholic understanding has always been that we are intimately united with the Holy Souls there, that our communion in faith continues even after death. We can pray for them and they can pray for us.
Since we know that through the mercies of the Lord our prayers for the faithful departed can help them and speed their journey towards Heaven, then it is really an obligation on us to do so. It is a personal concern since we are talking about the people that we knew and loved in life, whom we would happily have put ourselves out to help them in any way, and really nothing has changed. They are still there, and they are in need of our prayers. And the Church especially provides the opportunity for this during the month of November.
It is undeniable that nowadays we don’t like to think about death very much, and we can come under the influence of certain spheres that would like us to ignore the subject under the pretext that only what happens in this world is of relevance. And yet no-one can quite shut it out of their minds, because we were never made for this short mortal life alone, then rendered meaningless by everlasting death. Always, Christians will be forced to reflect on the shortness of human life, beside the eternity that awaits on the other side of death.
So, this is a time for remembering the Holy Souls, for offering our prayers for their release, and most powerfully of all offering the Mass for them. There is no bigger favour that we could do for them. One final thought is that we may bear in mind that just as we pray for them, likewise they pray for us. There is a story told of an English seminarian who was having a lot of trouble getting up in the morning for Prayer, and he hit on the idea of asking the Holy Souls to make sure he got up on time – and he was never late again….
Most loving Jesus, I humbly beseech You to offer to Your Eternal Father, on behalf of the Holy Souls in Purgatory, Your Most Precious Blood, which poured forth from the Sacred Wounds of Your adorable body, together with Your agony and death. Amen