The Departed.

It’s the Feast of All Soul’s Day!

"All Souls Day" by Perry Morgan III

Now, this is the day we remember all the faithfully departed.

You might think that we did that yesterday.  Well, yes and no.  Today we remember those souls that have passed out of this earthly life, our loved ones…and might still be in (get ready for it) Purgatory.  Yup, I said it.  Well, I typed it.  Purgatory:  that uber Catholic doctrine.  That historic sticking point between Catholics and other christian denominations.  So many find the entire concept of Purgatory offensive, somehow.  I think it is just SUCH a comfort!

Because let’s face it, it would be really nice to think that every single one of us, when we die, goes straight to heaven and is blissfully happy for the rest of eternity.  But, that would be a fairy tale.  Or, it might be your idea that it’s ALL a fairy tale and there IS NO hereafter, after all.  So, in that case, “eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.”  But, that would be a nightmare.  So, what’s left? Well, whats left is the all too reasonable concept of purgatory!  Because it only makes sense.  Think about it, as a mom, say my kid screws up…say, breaks a window with his baseball.  Well, yuh, he can be well and truly sorry, he can apologize, I can and will forgive him.  But, um, the window? It’s still broken and needs repair or replacement.  Reparation.  So, there is a real actual consequence, in real time, for his bad decision/error/accident.  So, he takes the time to fix the window, or do the chores to earn the money to help replace the window.  THEN, after the repair/consequence, it’s all over, gone, done.  We move onward.

Isn’t that the same in our lives, here? Aren’t we, here, supposed to model love and the family of it?

Well, yuh, when we are doing it right, that’s just what we are supposed to do.  So, when it comes to dying….yes, I will pass on.  And I do and will confess my sins and feel true sorrow for them and want to repair that relationship and I trust and know the divine mercy we are promised and taught.  But, um, I still gotta repair the relational consequences of my bad decisions/ actions/ choices…both with those I’ve hurt here on this earth but also on a spiritual level.  Because it IS all a relationship.  And really, God’s mercy doesn’t outweigh justice. They are both omnipresent.  So, his mercy forgives.  Ahhhh.  But his justice means that until my soul, my-self, is truly pure, repaired…then I can’t even try to stand in the light of God – meaning heaven.  So, purgatory is the gift of a foyer.  It is a genius stroke of creation by the smartest architect…the one who knows that we need a place to scrape the mud off our boots, so to speak.  To do the last checks of sorting out and repairing our foolish choices, and then take a deep joyous breath and enter the heavenly bliss.

Walter MacEwen, 1860-1943, "The Absent One on All Soul's Day"

It’s a gift of mercy, really.  It’s merciful AND just to require that reparation.  Because we all know that we don’t really feel right about our  mistakes, until we’ve set them right again.  God doesn’t need us to repair the window.  WE need us to repair the window.  It’s merciful AND just for there to be Purgatory, to have a place where we can do the work to repair our souls, to fully prep.  And while it might SEEM like it would only be merciful to let everyone, everyone, go to heaven as soon as they pass on…that VERY instant…well, maybe that wouldn’t be very merciful at all.  Not to them, because they wouldn’t maybe be ready for it, not really.  And, it’s not like going to the park, the beatific vision is like the most amazing reunion, ever.  You prep for that sort of thing.  It wouldn’t really be merciful to us left behind, either.  Sounds comforting, but are we SURE, really SURE that each and every one of our beloveds were totally prepped for their passing?  Were they ready for an instant step into mind blowing bliss or the eternal turn-away from that very bliss?  Are we sure that they had sorted out all the hurts or the questions or the actions and repaired those that needed it?  Hmmm.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t seem to figure out what my teen is thinking on a good day, much less old Uncle Jasper or loved ones from far away that I don’t see nearly enough.

That whole judging another’s soul thing – quite beyond my pay grade.

So, I turn back to purgatory.  Again, such a comfort and a hope.  Because it’s still heaven, it’s just the foyer.  And the “pain” purgatory comes from being SO close but not yet there, and now what’s waiting is revealed and even MORE desired.  Talk about tantalizing! But, even so, it’s enveloped in hope and mercy and justice.  So it’s wrapped up in gold.

Whew! Another long rambling scrambling traipse through my brain.  Sorry ’bout that.  But, this is what I’m thinking about today.  This is why I have this blog.  To show that I had brain function and synapses firing at one point in time…if only to prove it to myself…even if they randomly fire and spit out jumbles of ideas.  And to remember things I  might not want to forget (because, yes, it’s still all about me me me).

So, for all our departed, happy All Souls Day.  You’re not forgotten.

Photo by Evana, Pruskow, All Souls Day

From the Mass for the dead:

[for all our departed brothers and sisters]
Merciful Father,
hear our prayer and console us.
As we renew our faith in Your Son,
whom You raised from the dead,
strengthen our hope
that all our departed brothers and sisters
will share in His resurrection,
who lives and reigns
with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen

6 thoughts on “The Departed.

  1. having just come in from our All Souls Mass, and kissing my daddy’s photo on the altarcito, and feeling very petulant and wanting nothing more than to have him back, your post gave me some comfort. The Priest’s homily tonight did little to comfort me and here you are, with your words and humor…. Thank you. You deserve a BIG HUG.

    Peace be with you–

    • Robin, So glad my wandering thoughts could help. Missing our loved ones is tough, very glad you found a bit of consolation here! Welcome!

  2. Hello – I recently found your blog and as an adoptive mom gain great insight and giggles from your writings. 🙂 However today I was so totally blessed by your exploration of Purgatory that I had to comment and thank you for your gracious sharing. I am a Christ follower blessed to belong to a Catholic grandmother who is dying. In 41 years, I have never found a concept of Purgatory that I could get my head around until your post. I truly appreciate you taking the time to write it down. I hope you have just a grand day with lots of unexpected blessings raining about your head! 🙂

    • Melissa, thank you. Welcome to my blog and thanks for saying such nice things….and if you can follow my ramblings, I’m honored!

  3. You didn’t ramble. Beautiful and simple imagery are always helpful, and combined with your great humor and writing makes for an enjoyable moment to quietly pray and remember. Gorgeous cemetery scene. I love taking my children to the cemetery to pray. Quite morbid to some, but it is such a comfort to me! Brothers at an old Carthusian monastary where I lived and studied in Austria years ago greeted each other with the phrase, “Memento Mori” – “Remember your death.” I think I’m going to paint it over my front door and on the dash of the car when my oldest begins driving!

    • thanks Christina! I have learned that the Dominicans have quite a devotion to praying for the dead. They pray for the dead before each dinner, which sounds morbid but I think is good to remember that this life is fleeting and we need to not forget that. I might take that “Memento Mori” and plaster it around too. How about a tattoo on my forehead??? LOVE the dashboard idea too! My teen is about to drive as well…..perfect.


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