What is happening in the elements at this time of year is reflected by the Church in the way we focus on the Last Things. The Gospel of this Sunday reminds us that there will be a Judgment at the end: the Final Judgement and a particular judgement for each one of us. That will be the moment when we render an account of our lives so that we understand the eternity that awaits us. Christian art has often depicted the Final Judgment as very dramatic, with bodies swirling around in the sky and angels blowing their trumpets.
The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins in the Gospel of this Sunday highlights one of the themes that is held before us throughout this month of November; namely, the second coming of Christ and the final judgement, and our eternal destiny. We have to hold daily in our minds this thought of eternal life. A person in love does not forget. As long as the Lord is our highest priority, we will remain vigilant. We will not become distracted. We will heed the Lord’s counsel at the conclusion of the parable: Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
During this month of November the Church invites us to pray more insistently and offer sacrifices for the souls in Purgatory. Saint Pope John Paul II encourages us: we feel bound by charity to offer those brothers and sisters who have experienced the fragility proper to human existence the help of our vigilant prayer. May whatever residue of human weakness still remaining in them to delay their happy encounter with God be definitively wiped out. (2.xi.’82) To enter into eternal life it is necessary that we be purified of all sin. In Purgatory the soul experiences very intense suffering due to a kind of flame more painful than anything a person can suffer in this life (St Augustine). There is also joy and hope too though, since Heaven comes afterwards. The soul in Purgatory has already won the last battle and is awaiting a more or less imminent encounter with God. We can help the souls in Purgatory pass over more quickly the great divide that separates them from God by making reparation for sin. So, by being generous in our spirit of penance, having Masses offered for them and by continued prayer, we express the charity which is at the heart of our Faith. Let us use this month of November to remind ourselves of these truths again and do all we can to merit eternal life.
This week marks the beginning of November with the two days that set the tone for this time of year: All Saints and All Souls: the Day of those who live with God in Heaven and the Day of the Departed who are still on that journey homewards to God. Wednesday (1st) is a Holyday of Obligation for Catholics and Thursday the Day on which many of us like to participate in Holy Mass for the souls of our departed loved-ones. Thursday evening the Mass will be for all those from the Parish Family who have died in the last year. Every day is a preparation for our final hour on earth.