Eternal Rest Grant Unto Them, O Lord….
Let us remember our beloved dead always, but especially this month dedicated to the Souls in Purgatory.
If we remember the dead, they will intercede for us. Their prayers are very powerful, indeed.
“By assisting them we shall not only give great pleasure to God, but will acquire also great merit for ourselves. And, in return for our suffrages, these blessed souls will not neglect to obtain for us many graces from God, but particularly the grace of eternal life.
I hold for certain that a soul delivered from Purgatory by the suffrages of a Christian, when she enters paradise, will not fail to say to God: ‘Lord, do not suffer to be lost that person who has liberated me from the prison of Purgatory, and has brought me to the enjoyment of Thy glory sooner than I have deserved.'” – St. Augustine of Hippo
Don’t forget to make a trip to the cemetery each day from November 1st to November 8th. You gain a partial/plenary indulgence (under the usual conditions) for a soul in purgatory on every day you do this!!
This is the little cemetery that is about a mile from our home. We are fortunate that we discovered it, tucked away, hidden and obscure. We have made many a trip there in November… getting stuck or slipping into the ditch, through rain, snow and biting winds,…..as we kneel to give relief to one of our faithful departed.
In these first days of November, there have been times we have been headed to bed, sometimes with PJ’s on, when one of the kids looked at us wide-eyed, “We haven’t gone to the cemetery yet!”
Out come the housecoats and slippers as we pile in the van to tear over to the little graveyard. The kids can’t bear the thought of a soul in purgatory, waiting all day to get relief, only to have us forget about them!! They know the value of a plenary indulgence for these souls!
And if we have a house-full of guests (not unusual), the whole menagerie joins us, piling into vans and cars, some scratching their heads wondering what the hubbub is about, and finding they learned something new about their Faith.
So, do remember the souls in purgatory. There are many other ways to give them relief, if we can’t make it to the cemetery. We should pray for them always but this is the month to really focus on them!!!!
One day we will be in their place……
From The Year and Our Children, Mary Reed Newland
November is the month of praying for the dead; so this proposes discussion. We want the children to pray generously, boldly, not only for “our dead” but for all the world of the dead.
Strangely enough, this is their way if they are left to themselves. Rarely are they content with our conventional phrasing, “relatives and friends and all the souls in Purgatory.” They care about so many and want to name them by name.
I was icing a cake one day, and one of the boys was watching hungrily.
“Who’s he?” he asked, pointing to Paul Revere on the sugar package. So I told him the story of Paul Revere.
“Boy. He was pretty brave to do that. Is he dead?”
“Yes. That happened a long time ago.”
That night at prayers we listed our intentions and our dead, and he added, “And Paul Revere, in case he’s in Purgatory.”
Yes, Paul Revere, and Rudyard Kipling, because he wrote the Jungle Book, and the Just-So Stories, and Kenneth Grahame because cause he wrote Wind in the Willows, and Beatrix Potter for Jemima Puddleduck and Peter Rabbit.
They pray for Stephen Foster because they sing his songs, and all the ones who wrote their favorite music; for the Brothers Grimm, of course, and Hans Andersen.
Then there is Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington, and all the dead in the cemeteries (for whom we pray when we drive by cemeteries), and the dead in the newspapers, and the accident victims.
Add to these the bad dead, like Stalin and Hitler (whom they do not even know except from history books or, now and then, grown-ups’ conversation), and the dead who have died without Baptism, “because we hope they got baptism of desire,” also the dead of the terrible persecutions, and the bad Indians who martyred the Jesuits, the dead in our floods, and of course the dead who have no one to care about them or pray for them.
The listings could go on all night, just as the lists for All Souls Day could go on all day.
But this is good, because we don’t know about the dead. If they are in Heaven, our prayers will be used for someone else, and if they are beyond saving, our prayers will be used for someone else.
Always, we must remember how much God loves souls and how dearly He paid on the Cross in order to save them. Charity is not just for this world. It extends to the world where so many we have loved, and God has loved, must wait and endure purification, “as though by fire.”
Masses, prayers, sacrifices – all must be encouraged for the dead. Blessed John Massias used to sprinkle holy water on the ground, saying that it was an efficacious devotion together with prayers for the souls in Purgatory. His story Warrior in White, by Mary Fabyan Windeatt, is a good read-aloud aloud story for November.
In the Canon of every Mass, there is a special memento for the dead, so we can remind our children the night before and on the way in the morning to make their Mass intention for the dead. We can encourage them to sacrifice in order to give an offering for a Mass for the dead.
We can remind them after they have been to confession that for the few moments it takes them to make the Stations of the Cross or to recite the Rosary before the Blessed Sacrament and pray for the intention of the Holy Father, there is a plenary indulgence applicable to the souls in Purgatory.
We can faithfully attend Forty Hours’ devotion, parish Holy Hours, or whatever devotions our parish holds by which we may give praise and honor to God and succor to the dear dead.
Above all, let us not fail to teach our children that death is one of the punishments of Original Sin. It was not part of God’s original plan.
If Adam had not committed Original Sin, we would have gone to God in some other way. Now we go through death.
We receive the gift of human life from God at conception and the gift of sacramental life from Christ at Baptism. Death is our opportunity to give life, our life; not merely to lie helplessly and let it be taken from us, but to offer Him with a willing heart this life we received from Him.
We are free to make it our own surrender, in order to go to Him and glory.
An interesting tidbit:
Poland does not celebrate Halloween, but Poland sets its cemeteries ‘on fire’ and – believe me – those cemeteries are the most beautiful places to be at the beginning of November.
1st November- All Saints’ Day and 2nd November – All Souls’ Day are days when almost everyone visits graves of their family members. The gravestones are decorated with colorful chrysanthemums in full bloom (in Poland those flowers are associated with this particular occasion) and millions of grave candles (zniczy), which symbolize the presence of God and reminds of the prayer that has been said in a moment of reflexion for those who passed before us.
This Christian celebration of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day roots in a belief that there is a powerful spiritual bond between those in heaven and the living.
Those days are national holidays in Poland. This special time of the year creates a very melancholic atmosphere full of spiritual contemplation about those who are not with us in this world anymore.
If you are planning a trip anywhere in Poland at the beginning of November – make sure to have a look at how beautiful and full of light are Polish cemeteries.
“All monasteries have a bell. St. Bernard, in writing his rules for monasticism, told his monks that whenever the monastic bell rang, they were to drop whatever they were doing and go immediately to the particular activity (prayer, meals, work, study, sleep) to which the bell was summoning them. Our home is our ‘Domestic Monastery’. Our monastic bell is each task to which we are called. We respond immediately, not because we want to, but because it’s time for that task and time isn’t our time, it’s God’s time.” -Ron Rolheiser OMI
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