Many of us have heard the expression, "we are standing on the shoulders of giants." Usually that refers to people like Einstein, Salk, Edison and Beethoven. With their accomplishments in science, medicine, technology, and art they have had a tremendous influence on all our lives. But, on a closer inspection, the people who have had the most profound influences on our lives are often forgotten. They are the unknown people who traveled to our country. They are our forgotten grandparents, even our forgotten parents.
That is why the month of November has been selected by the Church to consider those who might have been forgotten by us, especially those in the state of purgatory.
There are generally only two days when a priest, by Canon Law, can say three Masses. One is Christmas and the other is All Souls Day. All of the Masses on All Souls are filled with prayers on behalf of those who have lived on this earth. We thank God on their behalf and pray they will see Him. We thank God that His mercy will enrich them. We thank God that they will one day be in the His arms.
When you analyze it, it would be a cruel God who forgets people who tried to do his work on earth. However, no matter what our sins might be, God is a God of mercy and of love. With God's grace, we work to bring those who are now in purgatory into his eternal kingdom. We pray on their behalf. Our masses, offered up for them, are of tremendous help to those who too often are forgotten. The souls in purgatory need our prayers.
- We seem to give them back to You, O God,
- Who gave them to us.
- Yet what You give,
- You do not take away,
- For what is Yours is ours also
- If we are Yours.
- For Life is eternal
- and love is immortal,
- And death is only a horizon,
- And a horizon is nothing
- But the limit of our sight.
- Lift us up, strong Son of God,
- That we may see further;
- Draw us closer to Yourself
- That we may know ourselves
- To be nearer to our loved ones
- Who are with You.
- And prepare us also for that happy place,
- That where You are we may also be forever.
- --Bede Jarrett, O.P.