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What tremendous love God has for us! What an amazing promise he has made: “As Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).
When we were baptized, our old nature—marred through disobedience and defiled by sin—was joined to Jesus on the cross and died. Through baptism, St. Paul explains, we are buried with Jesus in his grave. Now, we can share in his victory over death. No longer enslaved to sin, we are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
In our daily lives, however, we often fall short of the life we received in baptism. While tasting the new life of Christ, we act out of our old nature and give in to temptation and sin. This is why All Souls Day is so important. It reminds us that God, knowing the weakness and frailty of our human nature, has made a way for us to enter his holy presence perfectly cleansed and acceptable to him. As the church teaches, “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1030).
St. Catherine of Genoa once wrote: “Apart from the happiness of the saints in heaven, I think there is no joy comparable to that of the souls in purgatory” (On Purgation and Purgatory). Purgatory is not an antechamber of hell, one step short of damnation. Rather, it’s the “waiting room” for heaven where we undergo a final cleaning up in order to appear before the all-holy God.
Can you imagine what it will be like when you’re purified of all imperfections? When all love of self is transformed into love for God? Let’s rejoice in the power of the cross. By it, we and all those who have died in faith and baptism have been transformed. Together with all the saints, may we rejoice in the blessings of the life to come!
Points for Meditation:
- The tradition of the church is to pray for those who have passed on from this world. This kind of intercession is possible because of the union of all those who belong to Christ, a union that is not broken even by death. Spend some time today praying for family members and friends who have died. Pray that they may be purified and made ready to meet the Bridegroom face to face.
- Every Christian shares in Jesus’ victory over death (Romans 6:9). As you think about the promise of eternal life and Jesus’ commitment to bring about your total purification, ask the Spirit to fill you with an unshakable confidence in Christ.
- Purification of our imperfections begins in this life as we respond to God’s grace. Tell the Holy Spirit that you welcome his work of convicting you of sin and purifying you of all that cannot stand in the light of God’s holiness. Thank him for his gifts of repentance and forgiveness.
Lord Jesus, by your cross and resurrection you overcame death and freed us from the power of sin. You have raised us up to new life. We rejoice today in the sure inheritance you have won for us!.
This selection is from A Year of Celebration: Experiencing God through the Feast Days of the Church, ed. Patricia Mitchell (The Word Among Us Press, 2001).