"Help, Lord, the Souls that Thou hast made, the Souls to thee so dear! In prison for the debt unpaid of sins committed here".These words, throughout the year and particularly in November, recall us to our duty of performing the Spiritual Work of Mercy of Praying for the Souls of the Faithful Departed; these include family, friends, acquaintances and also those who we have never known. Almost daily, the news media remind us of many for whom death comes suddenly and unexpectedly. As we pray for these souls we must also pray for ourselves; may we be prepared in order that death does not take us by surprise. Prayer for the dead goes back to Old Testament times. It is, for us, a recognition that our Christian Family extends far beyond the confines of our Parish. As members of the Communion of Saints, we have Brothers and Sisters without number. Some are already enjoying the Eternal Bliss of Heaven while we are sustained by God's Grace, on Earth. However, for those who have died, as will most of us, with some sins not atoned for, the chances to respond lovingly to God have ceased; those who have died in the State of Grace are waiting in the state the Church calls Purgatory where, before they can 'feel at home' in God's Presence, they must be cleaned (purged) of all that, from this life, remains between them and God. God knows that, until all traces of sin are removed, a soul will be unable to enjoy His Presence. These souls are, of course, assured of Heaven but can no longer do anything to help themselves get there; as with any loving family fitter members care for the sick and helpless; Saints in Heaven pray; we on Earth assist Souls in Purgatory through our Masses, Prayers and other sacrifices.
To emphasise our hope of Heaven we will, on Tuesday, celebrate All Saints in Heaven. On Wednesday we will recall All Souls who look to us (maybe some have nobody specifically praying for them) to help them into Heaven.
The imperfect state in which we die is further highlighted by the Priest's purple vestments (black may still be an option) when saying a Requiem Mass; the general exception, of course, is white, worn at a Mass for a baby or very young child who, of course, died before they were able to understand sin and, so, offend God. The sombre colours are an essential reminder that, however good our fellow human-beings may have seemed to us, they are, with their fallen nature, far from perfect and, therefore, in need of all the help they can get. We owe it, in love, to those who have died (and this is NOT judging them) to beg God's forgiveness as He sees they need it. One day we will be in that state! Please God this loving service will be performed for us!
From St. Bart's
Thoughts on the traditional teachings, devotions, seasons and matters of the Catholic Church