It may be said that the month of November conveys great happiness to the souls in Purgatory due to the prayerful remembrances and Masses offered for them. They, the ‘Church Suffering’ are totally dependent on the ‘Church Militant’ here on earth. The greatest gift we give to our departed loved ones is prayer, and the highest form of this—the Holy Mass. We offer real support to them when we pray that they be forgiven for whatever failings they still have to atone for so that their souls may enter the fullness of glory. For the just who die in the Lord’s favor, they “are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them…they are in peace. As gold in the furnace, God proved them, and as sacrificial offerings He took them to himself…the faithful shall abide with him in love, for his grace and mercy are for his chosen ones” (Wisdom 3: 1,5,9).
The saints in heaven and the souls in purgatory leave lessons for us to take our pilgrimage on earth seriously, to accept our suffering in order to expiate the damage our sin has done. Our sufferings may be our own ‘purgatory’ or purgation sent by the Lord to clean us up as we go to approach him in prayer. Most of all, the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist obtain the healing graces needed by our souls. The Lord always provides ways for us to be cleaned up before we go before him. Jesus wants all to be with him in the kingdom—the ‘heavenly mansions’—he has prepared for us. Earth remains the testing ground of our fidelity to his love, shown in our own conscientious care for our needy neighbors.
We remain as faithful pilgrims to our Father’s house, still in need of keeping up our own prayer exercises and acts of mercy in preparation for entrance to heavenly glory. Let us always remember to pray sincerely, reflect deeply and act lovingly towards those entrusted to our care and those on the margins. What God requires of us is contained in the Prophet Micah’s counsel: “This is what Yahweh asks of you: to act justly, to love tenderly and walk humbly with your God” (Mic 6:8). In faith, we trust that our loving Father will never give up on pouring out his redeeming graces upon his children determined to follow the sacrificial path trodden by the Son. May each new day awaken us to the building of a fraternal attitude of active concern, not indifference, to do what we can for ‘the least of our brothers and sisters’ (cf. Mt 25:31-46).