November is the month that should remind us most that our earthly journey will one day have to come to an end.
On the 1st of November, we commemorate the saints, or rather ‘the communion of saints’ as we state every time we recite the Creed which is the main Act of Faith for Christians all over the world. Old books of Catechism would divide the Church into three strata: the Church Militant which is the Church that is doing its pilgrimage on earth, the Church Purgant which consists of the souls of purgatory awaiting their eternal reward, and the Church Triumphant which consists of those of us who have already attained the Beatific Vision. On this day, once known also as ‘All Hallows’, from the word ‘to hallow’ meaning ‘to render holy’, we celebrate the commemoration of all the saints who are now in Heaven with God and the angels. The new tradition of asking young children to wear the costume of some particular saint is something that should be encouraged since it provides a space in which we can think on the life of a particular saint.
The second day of November is no less dear for Christians. There are those who would argue that “if the claim that 2 Maccabees teaches purgatory were correct, however, this would at least demonstrate the idea of Purgatory to be an ancient tradition rather than a late innovation developed centuries after the time of the New Testament, as it otherwise appears to be”. I always found John Henry Newman’s The Dream of Gerontius so inspiring since it expresses in the best of ways the teaching of Mother Church about Purgatory and the need of purification for the soul before earning its eternal reward. The Christians have honoured their death since time immemorial; the tombs of the martyrs of the first centuries of Christianity is a living proof. It is therefore no coincidence that until this day, Christians flock to their cemeteries on this particular day in order to express their love for their loved ones who have already left this ‘vale of tears’.
Eternal rest grant unto them, oh Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them, may they rest in peace. Amen. May the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.