All Souls’ Day

Dear Sally,

I write filled with an odd kind of dreariness today.  I’ve been so long in prison that I thought I had lost the capacity to feel dreary, or at least to distinguish the feeling – when you live in darkness, you get to thinking that darkness isn’t dark but normal.  

Anyway, I am dreary because today is All Souls’ Day, and I can’t go with you to visit your mother’s grave, as we used to do together every November 2nd.  She was my favorite sister – just being around used to fill everyone with contentment.  And in our visits to her grave I her contagious joy seemed to waft gently down from heaven… How I could use a whiff of it now!  But I am consoled by the thought that you are making the traditional visit even without me. I will join you in my prayers – not for your mother, because I am so certain that she is already fully with the Lord (her last months of sickness and suffering, I am sure, wore away whatever smattering of selfishness clung loosely to her soul), but for all the other souls who are still getting cleaned up in Purgatory for their grand entrance into heaven.  All reliable sources seem to agree that the purification undergone by souls who die in friendship with God without having completely purged themselves of sin and selfishness is quite painful. Thanks to God’s mercy, though, we can ease their suffering by our prayers. Your visit today to the cemetery will gain an indulgence for one such soul – your loving act of faith will make up for his or her selfish acts of arrogance in times gone by…

It’s nice to know that God takes this family thing seriously – just as family members here on earth can make a real difference in each other’s lives, so spiritual family members can make a difference in the lives of those who have preceded us through death.  It’s good to remember that, I think, at least once a year. After all, death is no stranger, no outlaw; it hasn’t been ostracized; it behooves us to face up to it every once in a while. Only a fool would refuse to… And Christians are no fools, all the more so because we know what comes after death – we’ve heard right from the mouth of someone who’s been there, and that’s the truth.

Your loving uncle, Eddy


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