We enter into the month of November at a time when we pray especially for those who have gone before us and particularly remember the souls in purgatory. I always think of this quote from Pope Benedict that explains the great grace of purgatory so well. He said:
“There will be few people whose lives are pure and fulfilled in all respects. And, we would hope, there will be few people whose lives have become an irredeemable and total No. For the most part, the longing for good has remained, despite many breakdowns, in some sense determinative.
God can pick up the broken pieces and make something of them. In any case, we need a final cleansing, a cleansing by fire, to be exact, in which the gaze of Christ, so to say, burns us free from everything, and only under this purifying gaze are we, as it were, fit to be with God and able, then, to make our home with Him... I think it is something very human. I would go so far as to say that if there was no purgatory, then we would have to invent it, for who would dare say of himself that he was able to stand directly before God. And yet we don't want to be, to use an image from Scripture, "a pot that turned out wrong," that has to be thrown away; we want to be able to be put right.
Purgatory basically means that God can put the pieces back together again. That He can cleanse us in such a way that we are able to be with Him and can stand there in the fullness of life. Purgatory strips off from one person what is unbearable and from another the inability to bear certain things, so that in each of them a pure heart is revealed, and we can see that we all belong together in one enormous symphony of being.”
What a promise of grace, that God can put the pieces back together again! Like my parishioner when my day comes, I too want those around me to pray for me that I can enter into the purifying love of God. In the meantime, especially in this month we remember and pray for those whom we love.
One of the beautiful things we do during this month is to offer special Masses of remembrance. At these Masses we invite families to write the names of loved ones on simple crosses that they bring to the front so we can take time to pray together and present them anew to the Lord. We light a candle in their honor and as a sign of our prayers for them. These are moments important both for them to know and receive our prayers, and also for us in an ongoing process of grief. This month is a good time to remember that there is no timeline on grief and it can come and go at times that are surprising. These Masses are important moments in that process to keep on walking through it with the Lord.
Our Masses of Remembrance will be:
Thursday, Nov 3rd at 6pm at St. Mary on the Lake
Thursday, Nov 10th at 6pm at Sacred Heart