Not for This Life Alone, But for Eternity!

A purpose driven life is worth living. Faith in God gives purpose to life. Today we commemorate all the faithful departed. We honour the departed souls, because they gave us faith in God.

There is a monastic motto that states: “Aeterna Non Caduca” which means “not for this life alone, but for eternity” or “seek the eternal not the fleeting.” What wisdom! If we can remember just these words – seek the eternal, not the fleeting – we can find strength and perspective for our lives. Let’s make our life meaningful. Why settle for less?

An old lady decided to prepare her will and told her parish priest she had two final requests. First, she wanted to be cremated, and second, she wanted her ashes scattered at the Wal-Mart, “At Wal-Mart’s?” the priest exclaimed. “Why to scatter you ashes at Wal-Mart’s?” “Then I will be sure my daughters visit me twice a week.” Remember, We have a responsibility to remember and celebrate our dear and beloved people who have bid farewell to us and have entered eternal life.

How do we help the “holy souls”? The Catechism of the Catholic Church recommends prayer for the dead in conjunction with the offering of the Eucharistic Sacrifice and also encourages “almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead” (CCC #1032). Let us not forget to pray for our dear departed, have Masses offered for them, visit their graves, and make daily sacrifices for them. God can foresee and apply the merits of our prayers, penances and works of charity, done even years after their death, for our departed dear ones, in favor of our deceased dear ones, at the moment of their deaths.

Theological reasoning: According to Revelation 21:27: “nothing unclean shall enter Heaven.” Holy Scripture (Proverbs 24:16) also teaches that even “the just sin seven times a day.” Since it would be contrary to the mercy of God to punish such souls with venial sins in Hell, they are seen as entering a place or state of purification, called Purgatory, which combines God’s justice with His mercy. This teaching is also contained in the doctrine of the Communion of Saints. Biblical evidence: 1) II Maccabees, 12:46 is the main Biblical text incorporating the Jewish belief in the necessity of prayer and sacrifice for the dead. The passage (II Maccabees 12:39-46), describes how Judas, the military commander, “took up a collection from all his men, totaling about four pounds of silver and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering” (II Mc 12:43). The narrator continues, “If he had not believed that the dead would be raised, it would have been foolish and useless to pray for them.” 2) St. Paul seems to have shared this traditional Jewish belief. At the death of his supporter Onesiphorus, he prayed: “May the Lord grant him mercy on that Day” (II Timothy: 1:18). Other pertinent Bible texts: Matthew 12:32, I Corinthians, 3:15, Zechariah 13:19, Sirach 7:33. The Church’s teaching: The Church’s official teaching on Purgatory is plain and simple. There is a place or state of purification called Purgatory, where souls undergoing purification can be helped by the prayers of the faithful (Council of Trent). Some modern theologians suggest that the fire of Purgatory is an intense, transforming encounter with Jesus Christ and his fire of love. They also speak of Purgatory as an “instant” purification immediately after death, varying in intensity from soul to soul, depending on the state of each individual.

Fr. Michael