The above image portrays the entire Church. At the top, we see what's known as the Church Triumphant, all those souls who made themselves worthy to stand in the Presence of God (either through saintly lives, or a stint in Purgatory). Halfway down, we see the Church Militant - those of us still left living on Earth to battle against evil both for ourselves, and those at the bottom of the image... the Church Penitent. These are the holy souls of those who have not fully cleansed themselves of the sin they committed while still alive. We call them "holy" because they are no longer able to sin. Having seen the Face of God at Death, they yearn for nothing more than to join the Church Triumphant in Heaven. Through our prayers and acts of charity, they one day will.
In honor of All Saints Day, I wanted to post a few links that gave me a different take on God's desire for all of us to become willing participants in His Divine Plan.
I'll start with this one. A former skinhead found the love of Christ through the love of his family. As a result, he endured his own Purgatory-on-Earth as a doctor painstakingly burned away the scars of his old life. Satan only has claim over us for as long as we condescend to give him that power. Once we revoke his power, instead giving ourselves to God in humility and love, we become children of God. I have no doubt that this man will one day be a saint in Heaven, and his children, too. What a wonderful example of God's Grace and Mercy.
Next up, a beautiful anecdote written by Father Gerald T. Brennan, author of Father Brennan’s Favorite Stories. It's a story titled "The Most Beautiful Picture in the World." I'm going to be passing this along to my CCD students tonight. It is always important to remember that Christ calls us to be as children, fully trusting in His Plans for us. Indeed, Heaven is full of little children. Their innocence, beauty and trust must shine so brightly.
Over in Ireland, we have a wonderful priest calling for a humble and penitential Mass during their upcoming Eucharistic Conference. Oh, that we might all be so lucky to have such wise priests in our parishes!
Finally, I leave you with the tale of a missionary priest, Father Stanley Rother, who will hopefully be canonized at some point. I recently posted another story about a missionary priest who was also martyred for choosing to bring the Gospel to those who had no other means to hear it. We are blessed more than we know to have such saints living among us.
I'm sure I don't need to remind everyone of the importance of praying for our dead. We can never be sure where their souls end up at Judgement, so prayers certainly couldn't hurt. Plus, those we help achieve Heaven will undoubtedly plead our case ceaselessly before the throne of God. :)