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Oblate Blog: November 5, 2010

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Commemoration of the Faithful Departed.

First of all in this blog I want to apologize to the oblates in the Des Moines area and the oblates in the Wichita area, for not being able to come for scheduled oblate meetings. I was scheduled to be in Des Moines for an oblate meeting on Sunday, October 24. I just got released from the hospital at Maryville on Saturday mid-afternoon and just did not feel well enough for the trip on Sunday. I have for many years had high blood pressure but for some reason it went up very high and so I was in the hospital for a day or so. The doctors and I are still working on getting it stabilized so I thought it best not to make the trip to Wichita where I was scheduled to meet with the oblates this Sunday, November 7.

Hopefully I will be able to visit both of these groups of oblates in the spring of 2011.

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We have just finished celebrating two very important days; namely, All Saints Day on November 1 and the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed on November 2. On All Saints of course we celebrate a feast of all the saints; that is, those who are canonized as well as those who are not canonized but are enjoying eternal happiness in the Kingdom of Heaven. I like to see it as a day when I celebrate the feast of my parents, deceased family members and confreres and friends who are now in heaven.

Then on November 2, we commemorate all the faithful departed. That means we are remembering those who died in God’s grace and friendship but who are not immediately ready for the Beatific vision. The Catholic Church calls the purification of these people, purgatory. The Catholic teaching on purgatory essentially requires belief in two realities: 1) that there will be a purification of believers prior to entering heaven and 2) that the prayers and Masses of the faithful in some way benefit those in the state of purification.

The Church prays for, and remembers, the faithful departed throughout the entire year. However, All Souls day (November 2) is the general, solemn day of commemoration, when the Church remembers, prays for, and offers Masses up for the faithful departed in the state of purification.

Christians have been praying for their departed brothers and sisters since the earliest days of Christianity. Early liturgies and inscriptions on catacomb walls attest to the ancientness of prayers for the dead, even if the Church needed more time to develop a substantial theology behind the practice. Prayers for the dead is actually borrowed from Judaism as indicated in 2 Maccabees. St. Paul prays for mercy for his departed friend Onesiphorus. Early Christian writers like Tertullian and St. Cyprian testify to the regular practice of praying for the souls of the departed. St. Augustine further developed the concept of a purgation of sins through fire after death.

So during this month of November especially, but all throughout the year, let us not forget those who have gone before us. They have done a lot for us. We remember to pray for them and with them in our daily lives.