November is traditionally the month of the Holy Souls; when we pray for those members of our family, our parish, our friends and also – and perhaps especially – for those who have no one to pray for them.
Why pray for the dead? Well first of all on a very human level I hope I have someone to pray for me. Secondly, however, we believe in a period of cleansing called purgatory, when all the stain of sin is wiped away. Why should we need this? Well if heaven is a place of total purity, grace and goodness in the company of Father Son and Spirit nothing can enter that is tarnished. Sins tarnish us.
I know it may sound an odd analogy but I remember going snorkeling on the Barrier Reef in Australia. The reef is one of the most fabulous places you could ever see. The fish are fantastic, varied and beautiful but they do have some little parasites on them, but nature is ever so clever; she has provided “cleaning stations”. The bigger Grouper fish would go to certain spots on the reef and the much smaller Cleaner Wrasse would come and clean them by nibbling off the parasites; a mutual symbiotic arrangement. The groupers are “graced” with cleansing and the wrasse “graced” with food. So as an analogy we assist the Holy Souls with our prayers and we receive blessings for doing so.
Our traditional prayer for the dead stands us in good stead for this month:
“Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen”
I return from Europe on Sunday, November 26th .
May God Bless You and Your Families,
Fr. Aidan Peter, CJ