As November has been traditionally the month to offer sufferages for all THE FAITHFUL DEPARTED AND HOLY SOULS IN PURGATORY, I thought about the many souls who are alone and with whom no prayers have been offered.
To remember the souls who have gone before us is one of the beautiful traditions in Chinese culture (Ancestral Worship had it’s roots in Buddhism, but has evolved over time into a veneration and respect for ancestors who have passed away, thereby keeping the family tree alive). It represents a respect for our ancestors, their heritage, their unique social and cultural identity. The Catholic tradition of praying for souls – that is offering intercessory prayer on behalf of someone who has gone before us. Praying for souls lesson the the time required for the purification. The temporal punishment left by stains on the souls – that is sins – which have been forgiven in the Sacrament of Confession, is shortened through our prayers.
“Because of the communion of saints, the faithful who are still pilgrims on earth are able to help the souls in purgatory by offering PRAYERS in suffrage for them, especially the EUCHARISTIC SACRIFICE. They also help them by almsgiving, INDULGENCES*, and works of penance.” (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, n.211)
My own thoughts drifted towards all of my ancestors who did not know Jesus. Who most likely were Buddhist or practiced Confucianism. What becomes of their souls? What about the millions of souls who died tragically? What about souls who have no one to pray for them. So many forgotten souls! I especially thought of my grandfather who lived in a town far away from the early missionaries in China. His death was a tragic one. At the age of 25, he along with all his male clansmen (between the ages of 20 to 30) were executed by the occupying Japanese forces during World War 2. Their deaths represented one of the many unspoken tragedies and causalities of the Second World War. Their stories have long been forgotten and buried in the past. I was moved by my grandfathers story, and it was the first time my mother talked about his death. She was a young girl at the time, and lived through the tumultuous cruelty of World War 2 – she suppressed the sadness. She herself only came to know Jesus Christ after she immigrated to Canada as a young bride in the late 50s.
I was very touched by her conversion story, but deeply sadden by the fact that my grandfather and those who died alongside him did not know Jesus, nor His Divine Mercy. The only thing I can do is remember them in prayer, especially during this month -as I Pray for the Dead.
I started praying the Saint Gertrude prayer for souls. I pray for the salvation of those who have gone before me, especially those who never heard of Jesus, and who never knew of God’s Divine love for humanity. There is an inner joy in praying for 1000 souls, and I sing within my heart and rejoice in the greatness of my God. I envision the loving embrace of God as He receives the 1000 into his immortal arms.
God Bless 💖