Bulletin Letter, Ordinary Time Sunday 31A
Each year, the month of November is especially dedicated to offering prayers, penance, and indulgences on behalf of the faithful departed. Some parishes have had the tradition of setting out a Book of the Dead during this month, and parishioners are invited to write the names of the deceased for remembrance and intercession. In some homes, a table is set out with pictures of deceased relatives as a special reminder to continue to pray for them and to have Masses said for the repose of their souls.
Today, it is fairly common and popular to convey the idea that getting into heaven is fairly easy and pretty much a foregone conclusion for most of us. This idea is even conveyed during Funeral Masses, when we should especially be praying for the deliverance of the deceased from any sins or disordered attachments that still clung to them at the end of their life. We might well imagine many preachers today saying something like this: Enter by the wide gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to life, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to destruction, and those who find it are few. The only monumental problem with this idea is that it is the exact opposite of the message preached by Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Cf. Matthew 7:13-14).
Jesus never promises us an easy way, but He does promise us a more abundant life (Cf. John 10:10). It is not easy to take up our cross and follow Him to our own Calvary, but it is worth it (Cf. Luke 9:23-26). The Way to heaven is narrow and difficult for us, not because God is not merciful, but because we are not merciful. If the Way is as difficult and narrow as Jesus says, and if we really care for those who have died and gone before us, we will strive to help the poor souls in Purgatory by our prayers and works of penance, and by having Masses said on their behalf.
Please make this a month of renewed awareness to pray for those who have died, and renew your commitment throughout the year to help many of our brothers and sisters in Purgatory to finally reach the peace and joy of heavenly glory.
May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.