Called to Heaven
November begins with a great Solemnity, All Saints' Day. We celebrate in a special way all the anonymous saints who rejoice in God's presence and share in Christ's triumph and glory. It is a day to be glad about God's action in countless souls and to remember that we too have received the call we must answer. In his homily on November 1, 1981, St. John Paul II addressed these words to those present: "The Solemnity of All Saints bears a particular call to holiness. We must remember that it concerns a universal call, that is, valid for all human beings without differentiation because of age, profession, race or tongue. As are the saved, so are the called. This call is fitting and opportune on the day we celebrate the saints and sanctity.” No one is exempt from the call to holiness, and a holiness in today’s reality. We cannot delay our response to this call because we do not know when the Lord will demand an account for our life. We must be holy today. This is a beautiful call, because grace works in us and, with our freedom based firmly on Christ, we respond yes to this grace.
The day following this solemnity is All Souls’ Day. We know that only those who are pure and spotless can enter Heaven. If a soul enters God’s presence stained with sin, it must be purified. The Church calls this purification “Purgatory.” The Church has had the practice of praying for the deceased ever since the early centuries. As Christians, we are bound to love and help our neighbor. The greater our neighbor’s need, the greater our obligation. If we are moved to help someone dying of hunger and thirst, how much more ought the hunger and thirst of these holy souls move us to compassion. Their hunger and thirst are much greater than physical hunger and thirst. God desires that we help them by our prayers and sacrifices. Our Blessed Mother desires the same, as She has asked in some Marian apparitions. Let us not forget that the souls in Purgatory will repay us a hundredfold. They do not forget those who helped them reach Heaven. St. Catherine of Bologna said, “I received many and great favors from the Saints, but still greater favors from the Holy Souls.” When they finally obtain their liberation from their pains and rejoice in the glory of Heaven, they fall prostrate before God’s throne and pray for those who helped them. They will also help us at the hour of our death, as we can see happened in the life of St. Gertrude. When she was near death, she was tempted ferociously by the devil. He tempted her with the thought that she would spend a long time in Purgatory for “wasting” indulgences and intercession on other souls when she could have applied them to herself. The Lord Himself went to drive the enemy away from her and said that He would take her directly to Heaven and multiply her merits by hundreds for all she had done for the souls in Purgatory. Without a doubt, the biggest favor we can do them is offer Mass. The rosary and many small sacrifices and indulgences are also a big help.
It is good for the soul to think of the insulted and hurt Heart of Christ, and to wish to not have to go to purgatory. This encourages us to live a holy life and be purified here in order to go directly to Heaven.
In Garabandal, praying for the deceased was a deeply rooted tradition. In some of the ecstasies, the girls were led to the cemetery where they placed their crucifixes kissed by Our Lady on top of the graves.
This month, let us not forget to pray for the souls in Purgatory and ask them for help to respond to God’s call to holiness. In the last apparition, the Virgin Mary asked Conchita, “Conchita, won't you respond?” She asks us the same question.
Will you respond? Will you respond to God’s call? Will you start taking it seriously today? Thinking that one day we will find ourselves in God’s presence encourages us to fill our hands with good deeds of charity, hope and faith.
We trust in the Blessed Virgin Mary’s help, who ardently desires our salvation and is willing to help whoever asks.