May Their Souls Rest in Peace
Readings: 1st: Wis 3:1-9, Gos: Jn 11:32-40
This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico, the island of enchantment. He is the Chancellor of the Dioceses of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico; the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. For more details and comments contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
Today the Holy mother church all over the world commemorates all soul’s day. The Masses we celebrate today are prayers to ask God for forgiveness on behalf of our deceased brothers and sisters. This is mainly for those who are still in purgatory and need God’s mercy.
We must pause a moment to ask ourselves, why pray for the dead? When the letter to the Hebrews says: “After death comes judgment” (Heb 9: 27). When there is a saying: “There is no repentance in the grave.” Does this not mean that we are wasting our time here? No, we are not!
As Catholics, we believe in the communion of Saints. This communion or fellowship includes the triumphant church’s saints, the militant church, and the suffering Church. So, we are in a fellowship in which we could help each other through our prayers. The Church suffering in purgatory needs purification to reach their eternal destination.
The book of Maccabees attests that Judas Maccabeus, head of Israel, made a collection “so, they offered a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of those who had died in battle, to pray for the dead so that they are free from their sins, is a holy and suitable action” (Mac 12: 46).
According to Catholic teaching, to pray for the living and the dead (especially, souls in purgatory) is the seventh spiritual work of mercy. However, while the doctrine on purgatory is well-founded and plausible, we should strive hard for holiness and perfection to enter straight into heaven at the end of our earthly life.
Does our life terminate in death? The book of Wisdom answers this question: “The souls of the righteous are in the hands of God, and no torment will reach them. Foolish people, who have no faith, thought that there is no hope for them. But the righteous are at peace.” While they were alive, they were victims of sins, selfishness, and injustice. They are now in God’s hands in the hands of a father who is love and willing to forgive them.
They are now in the hands of God, who protected them along the path of this earthly life. Now, they are where “there will be no torment, where there will be immense happiness, rest, light, peace, and immortality. There, God himself shall wipe away all their tears. Over there, there will be no more weeping or death (Ap. 21, 3-4).
So, united in prayer, let us ask our Lord Jesus Christ, who died and resurrected, lead them to his kingdom, where we shall all gather one day with them to live forever.
Peace be with you!