Wisdom 3:1-9; Ps 23:1-6; Romans 8:31-39; John 14:1-6
To explain why our Church takes this day of prayer and especially the entire month of November to pray for the souls of those humans who have died in the friendship of God is not easy. In the seminary, students take a course called eschatology, which deals with the last things on earth and eternity, that is death, judgment, purgatory, heaven or hell. Most of us are not too happy thinking about death are we? Death means the separation of our soul, that divine force that makes us live, from our human body.
At conception our parents give us physical life, one male sperm penetrated one egg creating us. We cannot develop into anything but human. Most things about our individuality were set at that moment. We then go through years of growth and development until God decides, in most cases, to end our existence on earth. God tells us we shall live forever in another place. Where is the question here?
The Book of Genesis 3, in the creation story about Adam and Eve, God commanded them not to eat of one tree in the Garden of Eden. The serpent told them they would be like God with all knowledge. They ate of the tree and disobeyed God, the first or original sin. All humans inherit that sin. It is removed at baptism but not its physical effects, those temporal punishments due to sin. Throughout our life we keep making choices for or against what God asks us to do or not do, like killing another human being. We build up merit or punishment.
Just a few minutes after we died, after our soul leaves our body, it leaves that place in a short time and is drawn to meet Jesus, in a brilliant light. Jesus asks the person what they did in their earthly life. That is our personal judgment; no one else is there to blame. Then we know where we have chosen to spend eternity. Jesus’ love is so intense and he wants us to spend eternity in his glory. But if the person does not want Jesus, they choose eternity away from his love and blessings.
Heaven is a place or state of being eternally happy before and with the Holy Trinity, all the good angels and those perfectly purified humans, saints. Jesus said he was the way, the truth and the life (John 14:5). He also said he was the resurrection and new life (John 11:25).
Hell is the place of state of eternal separation from the perfect love of God, immense suffering with all the "fallen angels" or devils and all those humans who have chosen on earth to go there. We cannot enter heaven until we are perfectly purified of all earthly sin and its punishment. Therefore, theologians reason that, if we are not perfect enough to go to heaven and have not chosen eternal separation from God’s love, there must be another place of purification before we can enter heaven.
They call that place Purgatory. On earth we can do good things and gain merits, which reduce our temporal punishment due to our sins. We can also gain "plenary indulgences," which remove all temporal punishments. Under certain conditions we can apply that to souls in Purgatory. In Purgatory souls can pray for others but not for themselves. They need our praying for them. We ask Jesus to apply some of the merits of his passion and death to a family member, friend or anyone Jesus chooses to apply those merits to.
So the Church sets this day and month aside to pray for them so they can get to heaven to enjoy the eternal and perfect love of the Trinity with all those who are already there, angels and saints. May Jesus grant you the insight to understand his teaching and peace about these matters so we can all be together in heaven.
So we can help make our country a better, God-loving country to live in, Please pray for and look for those Pro-God and Pro-life candidates God wants to lead our country and world. Go to "Pro-life Voter’s Guide 2014" for your area. Thank you for responding to God’s call in Jesus’ Name.
+ Fr. Bob Hilz
(© 2014 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR)