Fort Wayne area Catholics had the opportunity to pray for the dead, while participating at Mass among the dead, on All Souls’ Day.
The intention of the Mass celebrated by Bishop Rhoades is to pray for all those whose souls no longer call earth their home. The Church teaches that these prayers alleviate time in purgatory, a belief grounded in the Old Testament book of Second Maccabees. In this Scripture, a day of prayer for those who have died is established. The practice, brought into the Catholic Church in medieval times and has remained since, is celebrated annually on November 2.
“We renew our trust that the Lord is always with us and will be with us even to the gates of death,” Bishop Rhoades said in his homily during the Mass, which was held at the chapel in the Resurrection Mausoleum at the Catholic Cemetery in Fort Wayne. “We have this hope for ourselves but also for others, because our lives are profoundly linked. Our prayers as pilgrims in this world can help the souls of those being purified after death, the souls in purgatory. That is why the Church invites us today to pray for our beloved deceased and to offer Mass for them. And we do so in this cemetery where we remember those buried here, praying for their eternal repose in the peace of Christ’s kingdom.”
Remaining in prayer for those we love was a central request made by Bishop Rhoades at the Mass.
“When we experience grief and sorrow, the pain of the death of someone we love, we turn to the Lord with trust in His love and mercy, with hope in the eternal life He promised us,” said Bishop Rhoades, whose encouragement was grounded in the first reading, from Lamentations, where the author described his troubled soul but remembered his reason for hope as he remembered “the favors of the Lord are not exhausted, His mercies are not spent.”
The theme of redemption of one’s downcast soul continued into the responsorial reading from Psalm 130.
“The psalmist is in anguish and distress, and he pours out his heart, his pain, to the Lord,” Bishop Rhoades said. “How important it is that we do so also when we find ourselves afflicted, depressed, or in pain. The Lord hears our cries.” Bishop reminded those in attendance that the mourning are not without potential response. “It is in the Lord that we find peace in the midst of the sorrows of this life, including the sorrow of death,” he said. “We find hope, the hope that springs from our faith in the Lord and His goodness and love.”
Paul’s writings offered continued hope in the day’s second reading, chronicling “hope that does not disappoint.” Bishop Rhoades reflected on that hope, saying, “It is the hope of salvation because Christ died for us and reconciled us to God.”
With that reconciliation with God comes eternal life, as described in the Gospel reading, and raising at the Resurrection.
“We believe in these words of Our Lord,” Bishop Rhoades said. “We believe in the love of God the Father for us, the love revealed by Jesus. And we believe in His promise of eternal life in the resurrection of the dead.”
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