The Church ask us in November, the Month of the Holy Souls to recognise the condition of those who have passed from this world, and, having been judged worthy of eternity with God, still need space for purification and growth.
The recent Sunday Mass readings have reminded us that our entry into heaven depends upon the earthly life we have lived and our relationship with God and His Church. Once we have died we cannot pray for ourselves, and so we rely on those who are left behind. It is so important for us to pray for the departed: it may be your prayers or mine, or the Masses we offer during November, that enable another soul to enter the joy and glory of the Kingdom of the Lord.
On a visit to Naples, Saint John Henry Newman was disturbed by seeing images of souls in flames and he wanted to clarify what he regarded as a misunderstanding of Catholic teaching about purgatory. In “The Dream of Gerontius” he focuses on the soul’s realisation of its unworthiness in the presence of God but sees the necessary pain of that self-awareness as suffused with hope. The “fire” of purgatory is the burning presence of the love of God which an unprepared soul cannot, as yet, endure, but will willingly experience anything to achieve. Saint Athanasius sees the notion of fire as representing the intensity of desire for God. Both borrow from Saint Ignatius (the immediate successor of Saint Peter at Antioch) when he writes: “my earthly desires have been crucified … there is living water in me, water that murmurs and says within me: ‘Come to the Father’”.
As Catholics, we believe that so much can be done to support those who are in this intermediate state, accepting that our prayers and good works continue to help the departed on their final journey. “Remember, Lord, those who have died and gone before us marked with the sign of faith, especially those for whom we now pray … may these and all who sleep in Christ find in your presence light, happiness and peace” (Roman Canon). We have a duty in love towards our family and friends, particularly to those who have handed on the gift of faith, not to neglect the ongoing relationship we should have with them: “for your faithful people, Lord, life is changed not ended” (Preface for the Dead). We can help towards their heaven: “our love extends into the afterlife. Through our fasting, prayers and good works, but especially through the celebration of the Eucharist, we can obtain grace for the departed.” (Catechism).
The union we have with Christ, and through him with one another, includes and embraces not just those on this earth but those who journey into the fullness of the Father, as well as those who have already reached their heavenly goal. We experience this union most wonderfully and powerfully when we assist at Holy Mass, and it is at the Altar, above everywhere else, that our love for those who have gone before us finds its focus.
Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Be well. Stay safe! God Bless. Our Lady of Dolours, pray for us!
Masks are now a requirement in places of worship. So if you have a mask and usually wear one then bring it with you.
Please note that celebrants are not required to wear masks in the sanctuary nor are clergy or anyone else in the congregation responsible for policing this. If someone is not wearing a mask please respect this and assume they have a good reason.
The law – here – makes clear you do not need a face covering if you have legitimate reason.
Individuals aged 70 years and over attending Mass
Certain groups of people may be at increased risk of severe disease from COVID-19, including people who are aged 70 or older, regardless of medical conditions. Those who fall within this group are advised to stay at home as much as possible and, if they do go out, to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside of their household. If you cannot get to Mass you can make a Spiritual Communion at any time during the day and unite yourself and those you love with Our Blessed Lord:
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment
receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there
and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.
(and then make your intention …)
If you can, please try and book a place for Mass – go to the Events tab on the left hand side of this page – so that we have the data for Track and Trace. It will be help securely under Diocesan GDPR regulations. We have tried to make the Church as safe and secure as possible but it is clear, though, that while we do the best we can to ensure that our churches are safe it cannot be done alone. The behaviour of our parishioners is also crucial. We need to remind all parishioners to be vigilant about their actions such that all are safe and our Churches remain safe and can remain open.
Our Lady of Dolours, pray for us.
St Joseph, pray for us.
Blessed Dominic Barberi, pray for us.
Please observe social distancing rules whilst in the church, and if you are feeling unwell, please stay at home.
Our financial reserves are diminishing. With no Sunday Mass collections, your giving matters now more than ever. Please help us by making a donation to the Parish so that when we can fully open again we can do so with confidence. Details of how to donate are here.
Or you can make a donation here
Dr Catherine Mannix explains how COVID-19 affects the body and how you address the symptoms.