Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Holy Longing: An All Souls Day Spark for Broken Hearts

by Fr. Gordon J. MacRae

Twenty-four hours after this is posted, it will no longer be All Souls Day. I risk losing everyone’s interest as we all move on to the daily grind of living. But I am not at all concerned. We’re also in the daily grind of dying. Death is all around us – it’s all around me, at least – and never far from conscious concern. As I wrote at the end of Part II of “The Sacrifice of the Mass” last year, death was part of the daily prayer of Saint Padre Pio as well:
“Stay with me, Lord, for it is getting late; the days are coming to a close and life is passing. Death, judgment and eternity are drawing near.” (From “Stay with me, Lord,” a prayer after Communion by Padre Pio).
I have never feared death. At least, I have never feared the idea of dying. It’s just the inconvenience of it that bothers me most, not knowing when or how. The very notion of leaving this world with my affairs undone or half done is appalling to me. The thought that Someone knows of that moment but won’t share this news with me makes me squirm. “You know not the day nor the hour” (Matthew 24:36) is, for me, one of the most ominous verses in all of Scripture.

But even when a lot younger, I never thought I would have to be dragged kicking and screaming out of this life and into the next one. I think it’s because I have always had a strong belief in Purgatory. It’s one of the most wonderful and hopeful tenets of the Catholic faith that salvation isn’t necessarily a black and white affair driven solely by the peaks and valleys of this life. I have never been so arrogant as to believe that my salvation is a done deal. I have also never been so self-deprecating as to believe that God waits for the extinction of both our lives and our souls...  (continued)

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