All Souls and All Saints...and cleaning up for Heaven

These two celebrations seem to be confusing to people, even lifelong Catholics.  All Saints' Day celebrates all of those who enjoy the bliss of Heaven - those the Church officially recognizes (like St. Francis of Assisi) and those who are known only to God.  All Souls' Day is a day to remember all those who have died, and whose afterlife is uncertain to us mortals.  Ultimately, we just don't know where people "end up" - judgement is left to the Judge, our Lord God.  Our "job" isn't to judge or guess;  our job is to pray.  We pray - and hope - that all our beloved (and not so beloved) dead will know God's mercy, and that His perpetual light will shine upon them.

Most Catholics believe that Purgatory is true - not simply because the Church teaches it (although that's a darned good reason), but because it makes so much sense.  Despite all my attempts to be good, I'm not.  I sin day-by-day, minute-by-minute.  In spite of the help that the Church offers me (in the graces of the Sacraments and the prayers of all the faithful), I am not in any shape to meet my Maker.  I love Him, I try to serve Him, I trust in His mercy, but when I have to stand before Him, I want to be in as good as shape as possible.  I may just need a chance to make some final preparations, even though I strive every day to stand in His grace.

A local gym advertises a "bridal boot camp", offering to get brides into top physical shape before the walk down the aisle.  Although a little superficial, it is understandable:  every bride wants to look her best for her groom.  We dress up for job interviews.  We clean the house for company.  We splash on a little perfume or cologne before a date.  Why would we NOT want to do the same for God?  Purgatory offers us a chance to "clean up" before our debut in Heaven, should we need it.  And I, for one, hope for this chance - if I fall a little short here on earth.  Because the alternative is....damned frightening.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

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