HOMILY ON THE COMMEMORATION OF ALL SOULS, YEAR C
From all Saints to All Souls! Yes! The celebration of the complete cycle of the Church’s life and existence; the tripod structure of the Ecclesia Community; the pilgrim Church, the suffering Church and the Church Triumphant. At All Saints we celebrated the victorious sons and daughters who have seen the Lord face to face! At All Souls we celebrate all the faithful departed; especially those who are still on their way to our final destination. May God grant them mercy from all their sins and open for them the door of paradise; Amen.
Many people approach the Feast of today only with the mindset that it is worthwhile to remember the sweet memories of our loved ones who have died. This is a noble mindset but also incomplete. Higher than this reason is the fact that some of our departed brothers and sister have not reached their final destination. This is the idea behind the Dogma of Purgatory. Purgatory simply means (to make clean, to purify) and “in accordance with Catholic teaching is a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.” This is why “the Catholic Church, instructed by the Holy Ghost, has from the Sacred Scriptures and the Ancient Tradition of the Fathers taught in Councils and very recently in this Ecumenical Synod of Trent that there is a purgatory, and that the souls therein are helped by the suffrages of the faithful, but principally by the acceptable Sacrifice of the Altar; the Holy Synod enjoins on the Bishops that they diligently endeavor to have the sound doctrine of the Fathers in Councils regarding purgatory everywhere taught and preached, held and believed by the faithful.” This teaching is not baseless as many of our brothers and sisters from other Churches think. Aside the episode in 2 Maccabees 12:38-45, 1 John 5:16-17 reminds us that not all sins lead to death. This Dogma neither negates the fact that dying in a State of Mortal leads to eternal damnation nor does it limit/deny the mercy of God from those who died in a state of venial sins. What happens when one dies in a state of this sin which does not lead to death? Saint Paul reminds us that “Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Cor 3:12-15).
As we remember the dead today, I remember my loved ones who have died and I pray for all those who are dear to you; especially those who have not reached our homeland. May the mercy of God come upon them in this year of Mercy; Amen. Happy Feast;
-Fr Cyril Unachukwu