All Soul’s Day
Today is a very beautiful day in our church calendar, the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, commonly known as All Soul’s Day.
The custom of praying for the dead began in the earliest days of Christianity, and over the course of time the day after All Saints Day became the day for the universal church to commemorate those who had gone before us, “marked with the sign of faith.” Why exactly do we pray for the dead? The answer is simple. As Catholics, we believe that, after we die, there can be a period of purification, of cleansing, as our souls prepare to enter Heaven. By offering our prayers in this life, we can help those souls in purgatory who are currently undergoing this purification achieve their eternal reward.
I had the privilege of offering Mass this afternoon in Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, New York, a magnificent and peaceful oasis a few miles outside of New York City in Westchester. During the Mass, I prayed not only for those buried at Gate of Heaven, but for all souls in purgatory, that they might soon be numbered among saints in heaven. It is my sincere hope that one day – but please, not too soon! – when I have taken my place in the crypt beneath the high altar of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, people will pray for me to speed me on my way to eternal happiness in the presence of God.
Tags: Gate of Heaven Cemetery