We pray for All Souls in Purgatory - Commemoration of All Souls

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > We pray for All Souls in Purgatory - Commemoration of All Souls


With this Mass for the commemoration of All Souls, the beginning of the month of November always turns our attention to our deceased brothers and sisters. November is called the “month of the holy souls”.

This month invites us firstly and naturally to remember our beloved deceased relatives and friends. But it also invites us to ponder those deeper things that the commemoration of All Souls reminds us of– about dying and death itself, about the questions of life after death, about the promises of life eternal, about our understanding of heaven, hell and purgatory.

Naturally we first remember our own loved ones – our deceased relatives and friends. Our thoughts are for them and our prayers are directed for them. This is why we have gathered here today at this cemetery chapel. During the month of November we have Masses said for the repose of their souls. Many churches now have books of remembrance open near the sanctuary and we are invited to inscribe names of our deceased relatives and friends in these books. They become a reminder that this is the month of holy souls.

Our prayers for the deceased are motivated by our understanding of the doctrine of purgatory. What is purgatory?

Purgatory is for those whose destiny is heaven. Purgatory is where those who have died in grace complete their purification before entering Heaven. Purification is a suffering, but it is an expression of God's love, His desire to cleanse our souls of all that might keep us from experiencing the fullness of joy in Heaven.

As Christians we don't travel through this world alone. Another Catholic doctrine which we profess in the Creed is our belief in the Communion of Saints. We are in a profound communion – the Church on earth, the Saints in heaven and our brethren in purgatory. Just as we ask the Saints in heaven to intercede for us, so we should pray for the faithful departed that they may be freed from the punishment for their sins and enter into Heaven.

We should pray for the dead throughout the year, especially on the anniversary of their death, but in this Month of the Holy Souls, we should devote ourselves particularly to prayer for the dead. We should start with those closest to us—our mother and father, for instance—but we should also offer prayers for all the souls. We pray not just a private individuals but as members of the Church.

We were encouraged in the liturgy of All Saints to be aware of the vast multitude of saints in heaven. As the Book of Revelations said,

After that I saw a huge number, impossible to count, of people from every nation, race, tribe and language; they were standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands

As we ask them to pray for us on our own journey of faith, so too we in our turn give attention to the souls in purgatory and pray for them.

The Commemoration of All Souls that we celebrate today should not be separated from the Feast of All Saints that we celebrated yesterday. Our gaze is fixed on heaven – our hope and our destiny. We pray for all souls as they await a final purification to enable them to enter eternal beatitude.

Let us take a moment during this Mass to commend to the love and mercy of God the faithful departed who have been part of our lives. Let us also lift our prayer as a member of the Church here on earth and pray for all the souls in purgatory.

May the souls of all the departed through the mercy of God rest in peace and rise on the Last Day to heavenly glory.

Archbishop Julian Porteous
Monday, 2 November 2015