Monday, 24 October 2016
Lord Jesus Christ,
by your own three days in the tomb,
you hallowed the graves of all who believe in you
and so made the grave a sign of hope
that promises resurrection
even as it claims our mortal bodies.
Grant that our brothers ans sisters may sleep in Peace
untill you awaken them to glory,
for you are the resurrection and the life.
Then they will see you face to face
and in your light will see light
and know the splendour of God,
for you live and reign for ever and ever.
We often tell you about the suffering Church in this world which needs your help. But that is the Church we see in this world. However beyond this life there is what we call the "Church Suffering", which is entirely dependente on our help. The Communion of the Saints includes not only the visible Church here on Earth, which we also call the "Church Militant", but also the "Church Triumphant - the Saints in the Heaven - and the "Church Suffering" which refers to the Holy Souls in Purgatory, who still need our prayers.
After death, when we stand before the face of God, not only will all the good things we have done be revealed to us, but also the past sins and imperfections of our lives - the unrepented sins, the consequences of our sins, the good things we have failed to do, or done only half-heartedly...But when we stand before God, and if we are truly open to His love, then we will have only we desire, namely to love as He has loved us. We will see clearly our lack of love and be filled with remorse. All we will want is to be totally healed and transformed. With wholehearted gratitude we will embrace all the painful, yet necessary, purification that this involves, as a gift od Divine Mercy - just as a sick man accepts the need for a serious operation in order to be healed. However, after our death we can do nothing more for ourselves. Only with the help and prayers of others who are still on Earth and still able to do good can we be helped to pass more quickly and more easliy through God's purifying fire.
In his encyclical "Spe salvi", Pope Benedict XVI described the wonderful communion we share with the faithful departed: "The belief that love can reach into the afterlife, that reciprocal giving and receiving is possible, in which our affection for one another continues beyond the limits of death - this had been a fundamental conviction of Christianity throughout the ages and it remains a source of comfort today...No one lives alone. No one sins alone. No one i saved alone. The lives of others continually spill over into mine: in what I think, say, do and achieve. And conversely, my life spills over into that of others: for better and for worse.
To pray for the souls of the faithful departed is a work of mercy, and one that is often forgotten. And yet we can help these souls, with every little act of love, every prayer and sacrifice, however small it may be. And the most profound help is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. There are countless souls in Purgatory who have been completely forgotten and for whom no one prays. But we can help them, and they too can make intercession for us and will prove to be good friends to us. That is why St. John Vianney, the holy Curé of Ars tells us: "If we only knew what graces we can receive through their intercession, they would not be so abbandoned by us. The prayer for their release from Purgatory is, after the prayer for the conversion of sinners, the most pleasing to God. (Written by Fr. Martin Maria Barta, Ecclesiastical Assistant for the Church in need)