PARAÑAQUE City, Nov. 2, 2014—Is “Undas” really a day exclusively for the dead?
Not quite, said a priest, stressing this Catholic tradition is more about the “communion of the saints” than just a yearly remembrance of “our dearly departed.”
In his homily Sunday, the Feast of All Souls, Fr. Gilbert Rómulo of the Cathedral Parish of St. Andrew explained the three days of Hallowtide—Halloween, All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day—remind the faithful of the “Communion of Saints.”
“The Communion of Saints refers to all Christians, whether still on earth, in purgatory, or already in heaven, united in a common baptism,” he shared.
953 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) reads, “In this solidarity with all men, living or dead, which is founded on the communion of saints, the least of our acts done in charity redounds to the profit of all. Every sin harms this communion.”
According to Rómulo, Undas is the time, not only when the living (Church Militant) are enjoined to gather in prayer for the souls in purgatory (Church Penitent), but also to ask the intercession of the blesseds in heaven (Church Triumphant).
The priest pointed out that praying for the souls in purgatory is a Christian duty, which the faithful still on earth must conscientiously fulfill in the hope that those who had died in mortal sin get reconciled with God sooner.
CCC 1030 mentions, “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.”
Praying for the dead
Rómulo said, “Since they can no longer pray for themselves, we must pray on their behalf.”
He admitted that while purgatory is not explicitly worded in most translations of the Bible, the concept is there, and it existence is consistent with a God who is “all-loving and all-merciful.”
Quoting the Book of Revelations 21:27, the priest shared “Nothing unclean shall enter heaven.”
In his blog www.splendorofthechurch.com.ph, Fr. Abe Arganiosa, head of Catholic Faith Defenders (CFD), offers an explanation.
“First, we have to bear in mind that the word purgatory is not originally English nor Tagalog. The reason why people cannot find it is because they are using the wrong translation of the Bible,” he said.
Purgatory, Arganiosa shared, is taken from the Latin phrase “purgationem peccatorum” found in Hebrews 1:3 of St. Jerome’s Vulgate, and which means “cleansing of sins.” (Raymond A. Sebastián)