……from your Pastor’s Desk
When I go to Memorial Day wreath laying services at cemeteries I always find it interesting to observe people on this day who don’t believe in Purgatory, or, for that matter, don’t believe in any life after death – same thing at funerals. I can’t help but wonder what they are thinking and sometimes I actually ask them.
For us Catholics praying for the dead is as familiar as the back of our hand. Always done it, do it now, always will. And we certainly hope people will do the same for us when our time comes. And, by the way, praying for the dead IS in the Bible. From the earliest centuries, the Church has blessed the custom of praying for the dead. Primitive inscriptions on the catacombs and other burial places throughout the Roman Empire bear witness to this belief.
Here’s why we do it. When we sin, we offend God. We also enjoy ourselves in an unlawful and/or immoral manner. When we repent, we are reconciled to God; we are forgiven our guilt of the offense. But we have still caused an imbalance in justice: We have enjoyed ourselves in an immoral and unjust way. The scales must be balanced. This is the reason for penance. Before we enter heaven, we must satisfy for every sin we commit. If not, because God is merciful, (and considering the alternative) we are detained in purgatory until satisfaction is achieved. The souls in purgatory cannot benefit themselves; but we can benefit them by our prayers.
Pretty simple, but don’t get me wrong, in satisfying for sin, we need to understand clearly that Jesus Christ abundantly satisfied for all sins of all peoples of all times. Nevertheless, He wishes us to participate in his act of redemption and satisfaction (Paul refers to this in Colossians 1:24). In the Communion of Saints, then, we benefit those who are still deprived of God’s light.
As to the day itself; Memorial Day originated as ―Decoration Day, a day to honor the Civil War dead. Gradually, it became the day to remember all the deceased service members. But, let’s not get too patriotic or romantic about this though – just because someone died in a war – even died saving others – does not guarantee a straight shot to heaven. Although wreaths and flowers on graves look pretty, they quickly wither and fade. Prayers, especially Holy Mass, offered for the deceased are of the greatest benefit.
As one who served 15 years in uniform, and most of them as a Chaplain, I was blessed to minister to thousands of people. I can tell you that they are as much a mixture of personalities as we are. I knew personally men who died in combat. I do not judge them, but I do pray for them every day. They need our prayers. So we pray for their souls. Just as I hope you will pray for mine– and be assured – I for yours.
Our God is Merciful – and Just.
Our God is Just – and Merciful
Dear God our Father,
Your word tells us, “Unless the LORD build the house, they labor in vain who build. Unless the LORD guard the city, in vain does the guard keep watch” (Psalm 127:1).
Thank You for those who have guarded not only our cities, but our country, allies, and many other communities from unjust and unprincipled aggressors. On this Memorial Day, with a solemn and sacred spirit, we pause to remember and honor the brave men and women in our Armed Forces who gave up their lives for their fellow Americans at home and abroad. Many were young and many were married, with their loved ones praying for them back home; but they were each fighting to protect the freedom we enjoy when they were called to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Please bless our heroes and heroines with Your mercy, grace, and peace. Bless also their families and friends. May Your perpetual light shine upon them; and may their souls and the souls of all our faithful departed rest in peace.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
On Memorial Day (this Monday) I encourage you to attend our special 9am Mass.
Here are some other Ways to Observe This Day:
-Visit cemeteries and place flags or flowers on the graves of our fallen heroes.
-Visit local memorials.
-Fly the U.S. Flag at half-staff until noon.
-Fly the POW/MIA Flag.
-Pledge to aid the widows, widowers, and orphans of our fallen soldiers, and to aid the disabled veterans.
-Pray for Peace.