The Path of Life

The Path of Life

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

All Souls

"Purgatory basically means that God
can put the pieces back together again.
That he can cleanse us in such a way
that we are able to be with him
and can stand there in the fullness of life."
Pope Benedict XVI

Monastic cemetery at Saint Meinrad Archabbey. Today after Mass,
all the monks processed to the cemetery to pray and sing
while the abbot blessed the graves of our deceased brethren.

One of the primary ways the Body of Christ overpowers death is through prayer, individually and communally. Praying for the dead--or more aptly, praying that the faithful departed may enjoy the fullness of Life--has been a vital component of the Catholic tradition since the early days of Christianity.

The Church identifies praying for the dead as one of the seven spiritual works of mercy. It is one way in which Christ's touch and voice overpower death and unite all members of his Body. The dead need and depend on our prayers, just as the living do. St. Thomas Aquinas said that praying for the dead is the greatest act of charity one can perform on behalf of anyone--living or dead.

As Christians, we are called to serve others, to help them along the Way of Christ so that we may all journey with him, in him, and through him to the Father in heaven. This work of mercy extends beyond death, as we pray that the entire Body of Christ becomes the "resurrection and the life." Just as we pray that our loved ones may enjoy good health in this life, we must--to an even greater degree--pray that the faithful departed enjoy the fullness of life.

As Pope Benedict XVI has stated, "No man is an island. No one lives alone. No one sins alone. No one is saved alone. It is never too late to touch the heart of another, nor is it ever in vain."

Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace.
Br. Francis Wagner, O.S.B.
Excerpted from "Praying for the Dead"

My father's tombstone in Findlay, Ohio.

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