All Souls

by Abbot Eugene J. Hayes, O.Praem.


‘Those who trust in him, the faithful shall abide with him in love because grace and mercy are with his holy ones and his care is with his elect.’  Words from the first reading from the book of wisdom on this day the 2nd of November, the commemoration of all the faithful departed, all souls day.  We pray for the faithful departed, those reconciled to God through a salvific death and saved in this life through His saving life. And as we have called to mind yesterday those who have attained to the fullest of reconciliation, the face to face experience of God, today we recognize that not all of Christ’s faithful who leave this life, leave it ready for that beatific experience. Perhaps most don’t but then again we may be surprised at the number who do.  

Going back just over 100 years, to the time of Pope Benedict XV, it is on this day and only this day on the liturgical calendar that a priest without any special permission or authorization is permitted and encouraged to offer Mass three times, the first for his own intention, the second for the souls of all the faithful departed, and the third for the intentions of the Holy Father.    

Before becoming Pope, as Benedict XVI, the churchman and theologian Joseph Ratzinger said: “that if there was no purgatory, then we would have to invent it, for who would dare say of himself that he was able to stand directly before God.”  In these words of the future Pope Benedict we are reminded of that loneliest of moments in anyone’s existence when the soul will be unaccompanied and will receive a word more personal than which there is none, the word of judgment reserved for no one else… Purgatory basically means that God can cleanse us in such a way that we are able to be with Him and can stand there in the fullness of life.”

And today is our opportunity to assist in that process by our prayers and good works, our offering up of moments joyful and moments difficult on behalf of the souls we have traditionally called poor. They are indeed that, poor, since they can no longer do anything on behalf of themselves in their state. Through our efforts and God’s grace then may we assist the many so that fully cleansed and at last with God they may stand there with Him in fullness of life.  

Since last we celebrated this commemoration of all the faithful departed, the first vocation to enter our community almost 60 years ago, the first confrere who joined our Hungarian Founding Fathers, Fr Leo Celano has died and is buried with them, the six fathers whose remains have been moved from Ascension Cemetery to our own cemetery here at the Abbey.  We also pray in particular for our founding abbot, Abbot Ladislas Parker whose remains rest in the crypt of this abbey church, then Rosarian Dominican Sisters buried just outside and all the faithful whose remains rest in the cemetery chapel.  May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace.  


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