The Faithful Departed

A Reflection for All Souls Day

            The Holy Souls or the Souls in Purgatory is a subject often regarded today as something old-fashioned belonging to the past. It is often associated with a church language of a bygone era. The term Holy Souls, familiar to older Catholics perhaps, but lost today on a new and younger generation is a topic that is probably not even taught in catechesis.

            However, our continuing remembrance of family members and friends who have died is not, however, simply a natural thing. It is nurtured by our strong belief in Jesus as the God of the resurrection who promises eternal life to all who believe. It is founded on what we profess in every Sunday Eucharist, when during the creed we proclaim: “I believe in… the communion of Saints…the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.” It is sustained by our hope that God is merciful, and so we would rather pray for our departed ones not on All Souls’ Day, but on All Saints’ Day.

            In every devotion, prayer is an indispensable element. In our day to day life, this devotion could be a way of practicing a prayerful life. Some prayers in this devotion are composed by Saints who are inspired to the Holy Souls in Purgatory and so it is considered that it is formulated properly. But for those who are doing their personal devotion must see to it that it is properly guided.

            This simple reflections and prayers for the Holy Souls in Purgatory is then for the awareness to every Christian who believes in God as a God of life and mercy. But this serves also as a challenge to us Filipino Catholics to start practicing this kind of devotion who have kept our love for God and for our love of the family through our generations.

            The Holy Souls in Purgatory are not able to pray for themselves or do anything at all to relieve their suffering. They rely on our prayers and efforts to help them. It is permissible to believe that they can pray for their benefactors. St. John Vianney said: “If one knew what we may obtain from God by the intercession of the Poor Souls, they would not be so much abandoned. Let us pray a great deal for them, they will pray for us.” St. Theresa of Avila (Spain) said that she always obtained the favors, which she asked from God, through the intercession of the Poor Souls in Purgatory. We must help the Holy Souls in Purgatory. In the bible it says that he, who stops (closes) his ears to the cry of the poor, shall cry himself and shall not be heard.

           Praying for the Holy Souls in Purgatory is also beneficial for us. It is somehow a give and take relationship. However, in doing the devotions to the Holy Souls we should not focus only on the benefits we can get from them but rather we pray for them because they are our brethren and we want to help them. Our intention should not only be based on our own interests. Devotions should lead us to a prayerful disposition and ultimately to God.

(Christian Dave P. Remudaro)