All Souls

Yesterday we celebrated the feast of All Saints. Today is the commemoration of All Souls – a commemoration of all the faithful departed.

The Church often speaks of the totality of the baptised as the Communion of Saints. The word ‘saints’ is used in the scriptural sense of the New Testament, when it generally refers to baptised members of Christian communities.

The Communion of Saints is formed of three groups. The first are those who can properly be called ‘saints’, that is, those who have died and are now enjoying a face to face relationship with God for all eternity. We sometimes call that ‘heaven’, but it is less a place than a relationship.
The second group are those who are living on earth at the present time, and are part of the Pilgrim Church on its way to ultimate union with God in unending happiness.

The third group are those we are remembering today. They are those who have died, but are not quite ready to meet God face to face. Most of us would probably acknowledge that we are far from perfect, and that we still need to go through some purifying process before entering the eternal presence of God. What that process is like, it is not for us to speculate.

What we are reminded of today is that those who are already in the eternal presence of God, and those who are still on pilgrimage on earth can help the group we call ‘Holy Souls’ to reach the Vision of God sooner, through our good works and prayers.

And so, although it is a “holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead”, it is especially appropriate on this day. Naturally, we will remember especially family members and good friends but we should also think of those who may not have anyone to remember them.

When our time comes to leave this world, it is the prayers of those people on whom we will depend.

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