But Christians do not just grieve for their dead & go beyond their grief in rejoicing that their death is a union Christ’s death & so with his resurrection. They also pray for their dead because they are our friends; for our tradition has yet more to say about death than this. We do not just rejoice with the dead in their reunion with Christ’s resurrection. We are also in solidarity with them in what may be a difficult & painful transition. They have to lose themselves in Christ in order to be really themselves; & this is not an easy thing. Whenever we sin we not only turn away from God’s love; we also turn towards ourselves, get more wrapped up in ourselves. The major evil here, the turning away from God is, paradoxically, the easiest thing to deal with; for God is so besottedly in love with us that we have only to ask for forgiveness to find him eager to restore us to his friendship. The other part, our obsession with ourselves & our own will is not so easy. For sin is a health hazard. We build up an addiction to our self-flattering illusions about ourselves, a habit that is hard to kick. We can work at it; & that is what penitential practices (designed to make us realistic & humble) are for. All sin involves a kind of self-indulgence; & growing out of this infantile condition, groping towards reality, is a painful business. It involves a kind of practicing for death (we sometimes call it ‘mortification’, ‘making ourselves dead’). Most Christians have recognised that people generally die with unfinished business in this respect (not in getting rid of sin, but in abandoning the humourless self-importance in which sin has left us). We have some growing up to do, some self -abandoning, before we can be sufficiently our real selves to be ready for our resurrection into glory. & in this matter we can help each other. For Christianity is all about coming to God in & through our friendship with each other. When those we love have died we can still be with them & help them with our prayers. This is what purgatory is about. We pray for the dead in purgatory not because we doubt that they are being brought to share in Christ’s risen life but to help them in their painful process of being stripped, not of sin & guilt, but of the hangover of sin, of their illusions & addictions. It is as useless to try to envisage or imagine purgatory as it is to envisage heaven. But we ought not to be speculating about an afterlife. What we know is that we have been buried with Christ ‘by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life’ (Romans 6:4). & we know that ‘if we have been united with him in a death like this, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like this (Romans 6:5). “God, Christ & Us”. Life After Death, by Herbert McCabe. OP.
Thank you to all who joined us last week for our All Saints & All Souls Masses. We are blessed to have our Graveyard surrounding the Church, witnessing to the proximity of our deceased loved ones and to our ongoing journey together towards heaven. It was moving to be in the Graveyard on the night of All Souls & see so many remembrance candles lit on the graves. Please keep in your prayers this month the Holy Souls in Purgatory, particularly those with no one to pray for them. Could I also ask you to remember Fr Theodore who died last Monday aged 96: 78 years a monk, 71 years a priest.
In Oct 2016, from the proceeds of the 100 Club, we invested £1,800 with Lendwithcare, a charity which loans small sums to small people to start small businesses. Our latest update reports we are currently helping 12 small businesses, usually family enterprises, in Malawi, Zambia, Palestinian Territories & Ecuador. Please take a sheet from the back of Church which gives full details. Since entering the scheme we have “loaned” £4,857 to 218 businesses involving 574 family members, creating 51 jobs. With my love & prayers. Fr Bede.