The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed
Today the Catholic Church commemorates the memory of all the faithful departed. As Catholics, we believe that once we die, we go to either one of these three places: heaven, purgatory, hell (CCC 1022). While the first and the last are definite categories, purgatory is a state of transition. It is a state of purification, before a soul can enter heaven (CCC 1030). Hence all over the world, we remember and pray for all the faithful departed, especially, those dear ones who may still need purification (in purgatory) before they enter heaven.
Just a day earlier, we observe the ‘All Saints Day’ – remembering the already glorified members in heaven (Triumphant Church). Today we remember the faithful departed, especially those in purgatory (Suffering Church). What significance do these commemorations have for us – the Pilgrim Church? They are definite reminders to those of us still living, that there is more to life even after death, and especially after death.
Our life on earth is a mere sojourn, while what comes after this life is eternity. St. Paul would say that “we are citizens of heaven” (Phil 3:20). In our times, we rarely come across human beings who have touched 100 years of life (age). But even if one lives for a 1000 years or more, it will be nothing compared to eternity, which is ‘life without end’. But sadly, most of us are more worried and weighed down by the triumphs and sufferings of this life, that we completely lose sight of eternal life. Our life on earth is insignificant when compared to eternity, but our eternity will depend upon how we live this insignificant life on earth. Therefore, as we think about the souls of the dear departed, it would be highly beneficial to think about our own soul and it’s current state.
In our current era, individuals live as if there is no life or judgement after death. But both God and the Church teach us otherwise. Now it is up to us to decide, whether we want to enjoy life here alone or also hereafter? – whether we want heaven or hell or purgatory? Our decisions here decide our destination hereafter.