The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls)
I am reproducing for your benefit a series of questions and answers taken from the Catechsim of the Catholic Church that will help you understand this day better.
What happens to us when we die?
In death, body and soul are separated. The body decays, while the soul goes to meet God and wants to be reunited with its risen body on the Last Day.
What is eternal life?
Eternal life begins with Baptism. It continues through death and will have no end.
Will we be brought to judgment after death?
The so- called particular or persona judgment occurs at the moment of death of the individual. The general judgment, which is also called the Last Judgment, occurs on the Last Day, at the end of the world, when the Lord comes again.
In dying every man arrives at the moment of truth. Now it is no longer possible to repress or conceal anything; nothing more can be changed. God sees us as we are. We come before his tribunal, where all is made right of if we are to be in God’s holy presence at all, we must be “right” with him, as right as God wanted us to be when he created us.
Perhaps we will still have to undergo a process of purification, or maybe we will be able to fall in to God’s arms immediately. But perhaps we will be so full of wickedness, hatred and denial of everything that we turn our face away from love forever, away from God. A life without love, however, is nothing but hell.
What is purgatory?
Purgatory, often imagined as a place but is actually a condition. Someone who dies in God’s grace but who still needs purification before he can see God face is in purgatory. When Peter had betrayed Jesus, the Lord turned around and looked at Peter: “And Peter went out and wept.” – A feeling like being in purgatory. The Lord looks at us full of love and we experience burning shame and painful remorse over our wicked or “merely” unloving behaviour. Only after this purifying pain will we be capable of meeting His loving gaze in untroubled heavenly joy.
Can we help the departed who are in the condition of Purgatory?
Yes, since all those who are baptized into Christ form one communion and are untied with one another, the living can also help the souls of the faithful departed in purgatory. When a man is dead he can do nothing more for himself but we can. Our love extends to the afterlife. Through our fasting, prayers and good works, but especially through the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, we can obtain the grace for the departed
What is hell?
Hell is the condition of everlasting separation from God, the absolute absence of love. Someone who consciously and with full consent dies in serious sin, without repenting, and refuses God’s merciful, forgiving love forever, excludes himself from communion with God and the saints. We do not know whether anyone at the moment of death can look absolute Love in the face and still say no. But our freedom makes that decision possible. Jesus warns us again and again not to separate ourselves definitively from him by shutting our hearts against the need of his brother and sister.