Today is All Souls’ Day, not celebrated by most Protestants, but as my wife noted this morning, when you have lost someone very close and dear you begin to view such things differently. I still do not believe in Purgatory and recognize that much of the traditions of All Souls or “The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed” began with praying for the dead, in an effort to speed their journey from Purgatory to heaven. I do believe there is, however, great power and peace that is found by remembering and incorporating our loved ones, both living and dead, in our prayers. The commentator on this site (author unknown) puts it succinctly.
Whether or not one should pray for the dead is one of the great arguments which divide Christians. Appalled by the abuse of indulgences in the Church of his day, Martin Luther rejected the concept of purgatory. Yet prayer for a loved one is, for the believer, a way of erasing any distance, even death. In prayer we stand in God’s presence in the company of someone we love, even if that person has gone before us into death.
Furthermore, remembering the “Church Triumphant” reminds us that this world is not our eternal home, nor is it final. There is עולם הבא, the World to Come. The preface for today’s Eucharist in the Roman Missal is beautiful and succinct.
In him the hope of blessed resurrection has dawned,
that those saddened by the certainty of dying
might be consoled by the promise of immortality to come.
Indeed for your faithful, Lord,
life is changed not ended,
and, when this earthly dwelling turns to dust,
an eternal dwelling is made ready for them in heaven.
And a recording of it chanted. I have to add that part of my journey into the Anglican Communion was the recognition that the Book of Common Prayer, the Prefaces, and Collects contained some of the most beautiful and concisely phrased statements of the Christian Faith.
May today be a blessing to us all as we remember those who have gone before and affirm the truth that we shall be with them again in Glory.