November is the month which starts us off with the Feast of All Saints, followed by the Feast of All Souls. This is a feast we can all look forward to because it is where our patron saints and hopefully ourselves and our family and friends will be praising God for all eternity. However, I use to dread the thought of being among those who didn’t get to pass through the Gates of Heaven at the first try. Not until I heard a statement about the Souls in Purgatory did my thinking change. St. Catherine of Siena said that “No happiness is comparable to that of the Saints in Paradise except the happiness of the Souls in Purgatory!”
Peter Berger a Sociologist of Religion said that the purpose of religion is to help us answer the profoundest questions life can give us and that is “What is the purpose of death for the Christian? Karl Rahner, one if not the most profound theologian in the last century agrees with Berger and others that the most profound question we must answer with our life is “What is the meaning of death?”
Another theologian, Leonardo Boff, a Latin American theologian, asked the Dalai Lama “What is the best religion?” Boff thought the Dalai Lama would say “Buddhism.” But the Dalai Lama answered “The best religion is the one that gets you closer to God. It is the one that makes you a better person. Whatever makes you more compassionate, more sensible, more detached, more loving, more humane, more responsible, more ethical. The religion that will do that for you is the best religion.”
The Gospel of Luke would tell us if one embraces the message of Jesus we will be invited to sit at the eschatological banquet. It doesn’t matter if we live in the streets, the alleys, the highways, the hedgerows. “Life is eternal, love is immortal and death is only an horizon into to the heart of the Trinity.
Fr. Ken O’Malley, C.P., is the local superior at Holy Name Passionist Community in Houston, Texas.