November 2, 2012
Yesterday we celebrated the feast of the Church Triumphant – all those who ran the good race and by the grace of God finished. When we are agitated and troubled over events or situations in our lives, we can be comforted by the fact that we have an enormous crowd praying for us, cheering us on toward that perfect charity that comes from the mercy seat of God.
Today we celebrate the feast of the Church Suffering – all those who having departed this life, are still being purified and readied to join the Church Triumphant. St. Odilo, Abbot of Cluny (Benedictine), established in his Order towards the end of the tenth century a general commemoration of all the faithful departed which soon spread to the whole Western Church. This is why we say, “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen” at the end of every hour of the Divine Office. Praying for the dead is so important that the Church makes it part of our sacred liturgy.
The Church Triumphant, the Church Suffering, and we, the Church Militant, are bound together by the bonds of charity. We practice acts of mercy, charity, and piety when we pray for the dead.
St. Augustine wrote:
Grant, O Lord, that I may experience a reasonable sorrow at the death of those who are dear to me, shedding tears of resignation over our mortal condition, yet soon restraining them by this consoling thought of the faith: in dying, the faithful have only withdrawn a little from us to go into a better world.
May I not weep as do the pagans who are without hope. I may have reason to be sad, but in my affliction hope will comfort me. With hope so great, it is not fitting, O my God, that Your temple should be in mourning. You dwell there, You who are our Consoler; and You cannot fail in Your promises.
St. Gregory Nazianzen wrote:
O Master and Creator of the universe, Lord of life and death, You give our souls being and fill them with blessings: You carry out and transform everything by the work of Your Word, at the time foreordained and according to the plan of Your Wisdom; receive, today, our deceased brethren and give them eternal rest.
May You welcome us, in our turn, at the moment pleasing to You, after having guided us and left us in the body for as long as You think useful and salutary.
Made ready in Your fear, without trouble and without delay, may You receive us on the last day. Grant that we may not leave the things of this world with regret, like those who are too much attached to earth and the flesh; grant that we may advance resolutely and happily toward that blessed and unending life which is in Christ Jesus Our Lord, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
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R. Now and forever!
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