Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Solemn Feast of All Souls

Yesterday, we observed the solemn feast of All Souls. As Scripture witnesses, it is truly a "holy and pious thought" to offer prayer for the dead. We do it as we look toward the resurrection of the dead. We do it because we are united with those who have died through our common baptism into Christ who conquered death. It is also a testimony as to the power of God's grace. I offered prayer for many of my family and friends who have died in the past year and beyond. The subject is never lacking for opportunities for meditation. I always think of one of my favorite mystical meditations on the reality Purgatory from St. Catherine of Genoa's Treatise on Purgatory (excerpt):
When with its inner sight the soul sees itself drawn by God with such loving fire, then it is melted by the heat of the glowing love for God, its most dear Lord, which it feels overflowing it. And it sees by the divine light that God does not cease from drawing it, nor from leading it, lovingly and with much care and unfailing foresight, to its full perfection, doing this of His pure love. But the soul, being hindered by sin, cannot go whither God draws it; it cannot follow the uniting look with which He would draw it to Himself. Again the soul perceives the grievousness of being held back from seeing the divine light; the soul's instinct too, being drawn by that uniting look, craves to be unhindered. I say that it is the sight of these things which begets in the souls the pain they feel in Purgatory. Not that they make account of their pain; most great though it be, they deem it a far less evil than to find themselves going against the will of God, whom they clearly see to be on fire with extreme and pure love for them.
My wife and I met friends at our parish for a celebration of a Latin Requiem mass (Novus Ordo/Liturgy of Vatican II) with Gregorian Chant that was, incidentally, celebrated ad orientem and with black vestments (like last year). Those of you who follow my blog know that I am a great proponent of celebrating the mass ad orientem; I have to say that this liturgical orientation was quite proper for this day, particularly because the day and the orientation call to mind our profound hope (with a certain amount of hopeful terror) as we look to the East (the oriens, where the sun rises) for the coming of Our Lord who will come to judge the living and the dead.

Afterward, we went out for coffee with friends and a game of Scrabble. I wish you a very happy and peaceful November!

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