Sinners, souls, saints, and salvation
The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace.” (Wisdom 3:1-2)
The annual celebration of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day is helpful in deepening spirituality and understanding the timeline of life and the hierarchy of the spirits.
The book of Wisdom is perfectly true, “The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them.” It is indeed a consoling line that gives hope to the people who strive to live holiness and yet suffer the evils of society and evil works.
When we, the “militant church”, light candles at the graves of our beloved dead or simply in the church, we do it with pure intention to pray for their eternal rest and that perpetual light be granted to them by God. The souls of the dead maybe still in the state of purification and they need our prayers. They are the “church suffering.” The “church suffering” needs the prayer of the “militant church” and through the intervention of the “church triumphant,” God may grant them forgiveness and purification.
Lighting a candle and praying, “Rest in peace” are gestures of selflessness. We need to pray for the dead so that their souls will be granted eternal life with God. For us, the “militant church” who are still alive, we need to live in peace. Living in peace is an experience of eternal peace.
There was once a concerned citizen who tried to correct an obvious wrong practice in the community but was treated ill after his pure fraternal correction. His intention and action to rectify were used against him to practically turn him an enemy. The worse part, they influenced other people to hate the concerned citizen.
We are all sinners. We have lapses and commit mistakes. But, sometimes we focused too much on the sin and lapses of others and we tend to judge them based on our life and human standards. That is the simplest definition of hypocrisy.
We are morally and spiritually mandated to correct an error, especially those institutionalized sources and causes of sins but we make use of moral norms. In short morality must not be eroded by practicality. Not all practical is morally right. God, his divine laws, and his commandment must be our basis to rectify and not our own way of thinking, way of life, and personal human judgment.
The saints were once sinners. The admission of sin did not end merely by admission. It went beyond the recognition of a merciful and compassionate God that led them to overcome sin through God’s grace in “Metanoia.”
The saints allowed God’s grace to perfect their struggle to righteousness and cooperated with God to overcome sin and to influence others to holiness. Now they are lives worthy of spiritual emulation. They are the “church triumphant.”
Many young people asked me, “Father Marcs, is there really heaven and hell?”
Well, this question is expected among the younger generations because of what they see in social media. Some churches teach aggressively that heaven and hell are just concepts. Some even say it’s a Catholic invention.
We read the gospel of Matthew to understand more about faith, justice, and eternal life. Jesus said to his disciples: “When the son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goat. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom of God prepared for you from the foundation of the world. (Matthew 25:31-34) Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’
Salvation is God’s work but we must cooperate as a church militant. The church triumphant will surely intervene for us.
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