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All Souls’ Day: Praying for the Faithful Departed

November is the Month of All Souls. We pray for the souls of all the faithful departed in purgatory. It makes sense for us to reflect on the doctrine of purgatory and its roots — and of our need to pray for the departed.


What Is Purgatory?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says the following on purgation and purgatory: “All who die in God’s grace and friendship but still imperfectly purified are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification so as to attain the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. The Church gives the name ‘Purgatory’ to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned” (1030-1031).

Why is it necessary for most of us? Jesus declared that we must “be perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48; Revelation 3:2). Other Scriptures also teach that we are called to ultimate perfection (e.g., 2 Corinthians 7:1; James 1:4). Further, heaven is described in the Bible as a place of those who have been made perfect (Hebrews 12:23; Revelation 21:27).

The Church takes these promises of ultimate perfection very seriously. If that perfection is not attained by the time of death, then, before entering heaven, the Church understands from the word of God that we must undergo a final purification.

Hence, the need for purgation flows from the promises of God that we shall one day be perfect.

Exactly how this purgation (or purification) is carried out is not revealed explicitly. Some have used the image of fire, based on certain Scripture texts (e.g., 1 Corinthians 3:13-15, Isaiah 6:5-7; Malachi 3:2-3). There is also a tender image of Jesus wiping away the tears of those who have died (e.g., Revelation 21:4).

Read more at National Catholic Register 

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