The first two days of November are days when we Catholics contemplate the Communion of Saints. On All Saints' Day we remember those who have gone before us and now wear the crown of sainthood in heaven, the Church Triumphant. Then on November 2, we pray for all the souls in Purgatory, the Church Suffering. They have done their work here on Earth while members of the Church Militant, and now it is through our prayers and sacrifices that they hope to be purified and attain the crown of sainthood.
Praying for the dead is a devotion we have fostered in our children from the time they were old enough to say prayers. Unfortunately, all six of them have dealt with loss from very early ages, so death is a strong reality for them . I am so thankful that the Church teaches us what she does concerning life and death because I am sure that it has been a healing force in our family's life. Our seventeen- year-old has prayed for the poor souls in purgatory since he could barely pronounce the word! Ben always loved the idea that it could be his prayer that would release a soul into heaven. And he still has a strong devotion to the suffering souls to this day. I like to think that all the saints who have benefitted from our prayers will be praying us into heaven someday, too!
If All Souls' Day has passed and you feel you could have marked the day more meaningfully with your children, remember that the whole month of November is dedicated to All Souls. It is not too late. Here is an idea to put all those prayer cards you may have accumulated at various wakes you've attended to good use. I always hang on to these cards and had quite a few rubber-banded together in a drawer. If you don't have many of these, just write the names of the souls you want to remember on small slips of paper or index cards.
I bought a box in the dollar store which Hannah and I decorated with images I downloaded by doing a Google image search for All Souls' Day . We used one of my favorite mediums (next to glitter and plaster of Paris, of course!), ModPodge, to attach them all over the box. It came out really nice, except I should have gotten a slightly larger box.
Remember to pray for the souls in Purgatory all year, but especially in this month of November! And no matter how holy we believe a person to have been, assume nothing. Nowadays, even at funerals, it is not often we are reminded that the deceased needs prayer... we need to leave room for the possibilty that they may not have achieved the crown immediately after dying. Not always a pleasant thought, but one which should bring us to our knees!
Enjoy the beautiful autumn weather, and remember to keep praying those souls in to heaven!