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Catholic beliefs on life after death

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

So, your friend asks you what we Catholics believe about the afterlife.  How do you reply?  Do you find yourself being able to communicate what we profess about Heaven and Purgatory or are you stumped? 

As the Church year comes to a rapid close with Christ the King on November 20 we always begin November with two important observances: The Solemnity of All Saints (Nov. 1) and the Feast of All Souls (Nov.2).  While one bears the status as a solemnity and the other being a feast day, these two days make a number of strong statements about what we Catholics profess about the afterlife.

First, we believe that we truly belong to the Communion of Saints with those who have gone before us and who are literally in God’s eternal presence. They have been given the awesome power to intercede on our behalf. 

[Christ] makes partners in his heavenly glorification those who have believed in him and remained faithful to his will.  Heaven is the blessed community of all who are perfectly incorporated into Christ. 

Catechism, no. 1026

Second, we believe that, while we all share in the Communion of Saints, we also believe that many who have died have not yet reached the fullness of heaven.  Therefore, it is both our duty and privilege to pray for them and all the Dead.

All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.  

Catechism, no. 1030

Please join us in this two-day celebration.  Because The Solemnity of All Saints is a holy day of obligation, a number of Masses are available at Saint Malachi and Saint Patrick parishes.  And because The Feast of All Souls is a privileged day for us to pray especially for our deceased brothers and sisters – and for those who have no one to pray for their souls – we have a liturgy scheduled at each parish on November 2nd.   Check out today’s bulletin for the detailed schedules of both parishes.

The first days of November is also a good opportunity to visit a cemetery daily and offer our prayerful intentions for the souls of those buried there.  Again, a part of our sacred tradition is to pray for the Dead and to commend them to the mercy of God.  This is also a good time to remember praying for our loved ones with specific Mass intentions throughout the year.

 For more information on Heaven, Purgatory, and Praying for the Dead check out the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

In Christ Our Light and Our Salvation,

Fr. Gurnick