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All Souls’ Hope: Weekly Message for 11-1-16
Dear Friends in Christ,
All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day come back to back, which is fitting, since together they form a kind of bull’s eye in the spiritual life.
The main goal of the spiritual life is giving glory to God, and we hit that target to the degree that we become saintly, to the extent that we conform our will to the will of the Almighty.
Canonized saints are those who, to a heroic degree, have conformed their lives to the divine will through a combination of charity, asceticism and even martyrdom.
But lots of other saints aren’t canonized. These are the countless numbers of people who prayed well and lived great charity and whose sacrifices are known to God alone.
There are other saints, too: the people who led basically good if far from perfect lives, the souls who had to do overtime in purgatory. The moment they enter heaven is when they, too, are saints. For at that moment they are pure.
Which brings us back to the image of the bull’s eye. The canonized saints we know are in heaven; they clearly hit the target. But the souls we pray for in a special way on November 2 are those on the way to becoming saints, those still in purgatory.
All Souls’ Day is a reminder that we need to pray for the deceased, to help get them released from purgatory. It is also a reminder that there is hope for even those of us are still a long way from perfection. We, too, can be on the way to becoming saints, at least in the next life.
To stay on the right path, and to prepare for these bull’s-eye Days, you might find our Fire of Mercy: A Retreat Guide on All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day retreat guide on target.
Father Edward McIlmail, L.C.
Ask a Priest contributor