All Souls - Prayers for the dead

  The feast of All Souls is a reminder to pray for the "faithful departed". From the beginning of the Church history Christians have prayed for the dead and have undertaken works of penance on their behalf. The Church gives the name "Purgatory" to this final purification of the elects, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.
From the very beginning, the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in "suffrage" i.e. "on their behalf" and for them, above all Holy Mass, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God. The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead.

On the evening of November 1st. we pray for all those who have been baptized, but who need to be completely purified of all stain of sin before they come into full union with God in Heaven.

On."All Souls Day" we offer prayers, not only for those whom we knew and loved, but also for the "poor souls". By this name we mean to pray for dead people who may have no one else to pray for them. Is an act of charity that we can perform for them.

While offering prayers for the dead can help us to think of the mystery of death without fear. The new life we received through Baptism is not subject to the corruption and power of death. We should learn to cultivate that constant awareness that prepares us to face death with serenity.

What should we do to make ourselves more ready for death? How do we live so that death does not catch us unaware? What do we do so that we don't leave this world with too much unfinished business?

Anything we do to prepare for death should not be morbid or be something that distances, or separate us from life and each other. We don't prepare for death by withdrawing from life. The opposite is true.

We get ready for death by beginning to live our lives as we should have been living them all along. We can prepare to die by beginning to stretch our hearts wider and wider, to begin to love in a way that takes us beyond the natural narrowness and discrimination that exists within our hearts because of temperament, wound, timidity, ignorance, and selfishness.

We prepare to die by pushing ourselves to love less narrowly. Readying ourselves for death is in reality an ever widening entry into life.

There are only two potential tragedies in life, and dying young isn't one of them. They are: 1) If you go through life and you don't love and 2) if you don't tell those whom you love that you love them.

We prepare ourselves for death by loving deeply and by expressing love, appreciation and gratitude to each other.

At the anointing of Bethany, referring to Mary Magdalene, Jesus says: "Let this woman continue to anoint my feet. She has anointed me for my impending death". Meaning with this:" When I come to die, it is going to be easier because, at this moment, I am truly tasting life." In fact it is easier to die when one has been, even for a moment, fully alive.

What makes it difficult for us to die, is not so much fear of the afterlife, or even that fear that there might not be an afterlife, but the feeling that we have not loved enough as we feel we should have, because, what counts at the end of a life is how much we were able to love!
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