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God’s Final Act of Mercy: A Reminder to Remember the Faithful Departed This November


Only when I came back to the Church a few years ago did I hear the phrase, “Eternal Rest grant unto them, O Lord; and, may Your Perpetual Light shine upon them.” It was a confusing prayer and I wasn’t quite sure why it was used. However, in the past few years, I have learned a little more about the teaching of the Church, and spent time pondering this short prayer.  

The first year after reverting back to the Catholic Church, November came and went and I didn’t think too much as I celebrated the obligatory Holy Day of Obligation on November 1st, the Solemnity of the Feast of All Saints. I didn’t bat an eyelash the first couple years about the day after–November 2nd, the Feast of All Souls. However, as I sat with the Diary of St. Faustina, a tome I have yet to complete, the realization of the prayer mentioned earlier struck me. Since then the Feast of All Souls has become permanently embedded in my brain. In fact, I must confess, I actually prefer the Feast of All Souls over the day preceding it.

The word purgatory will never be found in the Bible. Because of that, many Protestant denominations will give that as evidence it does not exist. While the name may not be there, however, the theology is loudly and clearly written in several places. Few know that the biblical support for purgatory is one reason Martin Luther removed the book of Maccabees from the Bible. In addition to other teachings, Luther disagreed with the Catholic teaching of sanctification, therefore, he wasn’t a fan of a soul having to go through a “purification” after death to enter heaven. 

God is perfect. He is perfection. Through Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, we are saved and God as present Father, Son and Holy Spirit is pristine, without blemish, and perfect. Christ himself, as he hung on the Cross, was perfection–the “unblemished lamb” required for the Passover meal (see Brant Pitre’s book, Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist, for expanded teaching on that subject).

If heaven is home to our perfect God, then heaven must be perfect, too. In Judaism, the Temple houses the Holy of Holies, which is so special that only the most select, purified rabbis are allowed to enter. In Catholicism, the tabernacle is God’s dwelling place outside the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. That gold box is adorned, beautiful, and sacred because it houses God himself, as he is present in the bread of the Eucharist!

While we approach God as stained sinners, he cleanses us of our sins! Through Baptism and Confirmation, we are cleansed and draw strength to undergo sanctification. Through Reconciliation, we can be continuously cleansed of sins. Before receiving Jesus in the Eucharist, we should not have sinned mortally and we confess our venial sins at the beginning of Mass. In 1 Corinthians 11:27, St. Paul was clear we must receive the Eucharist in a worthy state. The rest of that chapter then details how to ensure we are worthily receiving Christ in the Eucharist.

But what happens when death is sudden? When we have received Jesus “unworthily” or failed to make amends for my massive slip-ups? How can our dirty soul enter perfection and embrace an unblemished Lamb without leaving him dirty?!


Simply, purgatory is God’s final act of mercy for repentant sinners. If we die before cleansing ourselves entirely of sin through the sacraments, then God mercifully allows us to undergo purification so we may dwell with him forever.

To me, that teaching is exquisite!

Yes, Jesus died for our sins and paid the eternal price for our offenses against an infinite God. But we will still be accountable for the earthly effects of our sins, for which we can make amends in this life and in purgatory. We are all sinners, yet we fail in faith or in good works, so we are given one final opportunity for spiritual cleansing. Scripture compares purgatory to a cleansing “fire” (1 Corinthians 3:12-15). 

We are called to pray for those who are undergoing this merciful spiritual cleansing. We know from 2 Maccabees 12:46 that the Jews “made atonement for the dead that they might be absolved from their sin.” This leads to the Catholic teaching that we can be absolved of our sins after death. Those still on the journey here on earth have an obligation to “make atonement” for those who are suffering this final purification. This is why praying for the dead is a spiritual work of mercy for Catholics. 

The universal Church recognizes this every November, through All Souls Day. Through dedicating the entire month to Holy Souls, the Church actually asks us to focus specifically on those in Purgatory. We pray for them, add Mass intentions, fast, and perform other good works that we offer up for them. We also can offer our struggles on behalf of the holy souls in purgatory. But our attention to these souls should not wane come December.  

This October, I was in daily Mass and thought about an inspirational, holy man who, like my grandparents in the image attached to this post, had passed away. Without knowing it, this man significantly impacted my spiritual life. I expect he will be a saint–not canonized, but still a member of the Church Triumphant in heaven. Yet, because I cannot presume to know God’s plans for this man, I offered that Mass for him in my heart. 

As I glanced around the chapel that day, I began to worry for the holy souls in purgatory who do not have anyone praying for them. My works can contribute to absolving souls of their sins, but how many are left begging us to make atonement so their soul can taste the relief only found within the Celestial Kingdom? I have names I can pray for, but how many souls are not remembered explicitly by name because their families do not pray for them?

I left Mass that day resolute, determined to double my efforts to remember the holy souls throughout the year and I have added Stories About Purgatory and What They Reveal to my reading list. As members the Church Militant, we are all called to this. Many people fear death and I admit that I squirm at the thought of my own purgatory. Yet I expect some slight relief from God’s final act of mercy, which will lead my soul to be able to fully embrace the unblemished Lamb.

And nothing could be more beautiful!

So, will you please join me this month in praying for, fasting for, and sacrificing for the holy souls of purgatory? Is there a soul in your life you would like me to pray for? I would be honored to add their name to my list! And will you join me in reciting the prayer that confused me just a few years ago, but brings me much comfort today?


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What’s Your Name Again?

Chiara BosattaToday is the memorial day of Blessed Chiara Bosatta. Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard of this saintly woman. No? I hadn’t either until I looked to see whose feast days fell on today’s date. As I researched her life I felt very drawn to her. Let me tell you a little about her.

Born in 1858, Dina Bosatta was the daughter of Alexander and Rosa Bosatta. Her father, a silk manufacturer, died when she was a young girl. She felt a spiritual calling and she left home to join the Canossians, an order started by St. Magdalene of Canossa as a way to reach out to the poor. The order became known as the Daughters of Charity. Dina would leave the order feeling that her calling was elsewhere. She joined the Daughters of Mary and began working in hospice care providing care for the neglected elderly and children. She also taught the children who resided under hospice care. She would eventually go on to co-found Daughters of Saint Mary of Providence.  She took the name Chiara and lived out the remainder of her life working to take care of the needy and helping with the sisters’ spiritual formation.  She died of natural causes in 1887.

I tried to do a google search to find more information about Blessed Chiara; very little came up for me. Her life is summed up in a paragraph. Most of us have never heard her name before today. Many of us will forget her name even after we have read about her. And yet, despite this, her efforts and her works matter just as much as if her name were as well-known as St. Teresa of Calcutta.

We each have hopes and dreams for our lives. I dream of one day being a well-known Catholic writer. I hope to inspire people with my words and my insights. It seems though that it will never happen for me. I often feel discouraged when I think of that dream slipping through my hands. I try to be patient, but it’s hard. When researching Blessed Chiara, I felt like God was whispering in my ear that it would be ok if that never happened for me. I won’t cringe when someone asks me, “What’s your name again?” You see, in the end it doesn’t matter if anyone knows our names because we are able to inspire and encourage others without ever revealing who we are or being well-known.

Our world tells us that to really be someone we must be well-known. Perhaps well-known means that the people in our own social circle look up to us; maybe it means everyone in our community recognizes our face. Maybe it even means that our name is a household word uttered by the mouths of children and adults alike.  But God tells us a different story. He reminds us that we don’t have to be well-known to be someone; we only need to be ourselves.

He knows my name

You see, in the end it doesn’t matter who knows our names. More than likely after a few generations have passed no one will remember our names anyway. That popularity we crave now is a fleeting recognition. Instead, we should be striving to be known by our Father. His opinion is the only one that truly matters. There is a popular Christian song called, “He Knows My Name” by Francesca Battistelli.

The lyrics say:

I don’t need my name in lights
I’m famous in my Father’s eyes
Make no mistake
He knows my name
I’m not living for applause
I’m already so adored
It’s all His stage
He knows my name
He knows my name

Blessed Chiara reminds me of this. We don’t all need our names in lights to be known. Some of us are called to do the work that will go unacknowledged by most people. We won’t receive awards or accolades for the job we do, and we will never be famous for the good deeds we do in the spirit of love and humility. But that is ok. While the world may never see us, God sees us. He knows us. He adores us. We are famous in His eyes. And that is enough.

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Seven Quick Takes: Images of the Holy Family

In honor of the feast day of the Holy family which until 1969, was celebrated the first Sunday after Epiphany, and is now celebrated the first Sunday after Christmas, I bring to you – seven beautiful images of the Holy family. Some well known and others, not so well known. Enjoy and may the Holy family reside with you and  yours this New Year of 2015.

Quick Take one:


By Bartolome Esteban Murillo The Holy Family

Quick Take two:

Christ with John the Baptist

The Holy Family with the Infant St. John the Baptist, 1660-70 · Bartolome Esteban Murillo

Quick Take three:

Simeon and Anna Recognize the Lord

Simeon and Anna Recognize the Lord in Jesus by  Rembrandt

Quick Take Four: 

The Family

The family by John D. Batten

Quick Take Five:

The Family from Nazareth

Quick Take Six: 

The Holy Family

Holy Family by Juan Simon Gutierrez

Quick Take Seven:

The Flight into Egypt  The Flight into Egypt – Bartolome Esteban Murillo

I hope you felt inspired by all these lovely images of the Holy family. There are so many online that it was breath taking to search through all of the available images. Try it some day – you will get lost in a sea of love and beauty.

From my heart to yours – I wish you the very happiest and blessed New Year, and God Bless! (Don’t forget to mosey on over to the new Seven Quick Takes  and see what is happening over there!)

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Seven Quick Takes Friday: Great Feasts for September

quicktake7septsaintsI can’t believe that we are already in September and thus a new school year is upon us. As we unpack our new school supplies and possibly fill our shelves with new books many of us are, sadly, packing away the swim suits and getting as many days out of our shorts and tees as we can before the cooler temps force us to pack those away too.

With a new month upon us this also meant that Quick Take Seven was looming just around the corner and thus I needed to think of something interesting to “quick take” to the press!

I toyed with the idea to showcase first day of school pictures from around the country but one, I figured we will see a bunch of cute preschoolers, adorable “betweens” and handsome freshmen in our various newsfeeds! And secondly, for my first two quick takes my fellow scribblers were more than generous in sharing photos, favorite books and authors, therefore l decided it was time to do one all by myself.

There was just one problem, I pulled a complete blank when I searched my imagination for something interesting to write about. So I reached out to Kerri for some ideas. We bounced a few ideas back and forth, resulting in my pocketing a really fun one for November. You have my permission to wait with bated breath for it! In the meantime, I will share with you another great idea we came up with- few great feasts, along with some really neat Saints found in the month of September!

Quick Take One

Sept gregorywithdove

September 3rd- St Gregory the Great, now tell me what could be more appropriate than a patron saint of teachers in September. I certainly didn’t realize he favored teachers and with our school semester starting this coming Monday, I think l might be calling on him –  a lot! Read more about this great saint here.



Quick Take Two

sept Nativity_of_the_Mother_of_God

Quick take two is a beautiful feast,that of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, which falls on September eighth and is one of the only three birthdays our church celebrates. We just celebrated one of them at the beginning of summer-  John the Baptist‘s birthday and the one we ALL know about, the Nativity, is much closer than many of us want to acknowledge. Where does the time go?

This is an Icon of the Nativity of the Mother of God, egg tempera on wood, Central Russia, mid-1800’s.




Quick Take Three

sept st-john-chrysostom-11

September 13th brings us to St John Chrysostom. Chrysostom is greek for golden mouth and he was thus nicknamed due to his eloquence of speech. Born in Antioch at about 347 AD he lived an incredibly fruitful life with great zeal for preaching the truth. This led to his death after being exiled by the Empress Eudoxia in 407 AD.



Quick Take Four

sept exaltationofthecross

This quick take brings us to Sept 14th and the Exaltation of the Cross. This feast day is celebrated on the anniversary of the dedication of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher. According to an eyewitness of the fourth century, during an observation of Good Friday “the wood was taken out of its silver container and placed on a table together with the inscription Pilate ordered place over Jesus’ head.” You can read more about this feast day here.




Quick Take Five

sept our_lady_of_sorrowsImmediately following the Exaltation of the Cross we celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Sorrows on September 15th. This feast day was at one time celebrated on the Sunday following September 14th but finally Pope Pius the tenth fixed it permanently to the Roman Calendar on the 15th.



Quick Take Six 


I think the feast day of the Archangels must be a favorite one for so many people. I know it’s a special day in our family, given we have two children bearing the name of two of these great angels and one child was actually born on this date. On this day we celebrate the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.




Quick Take Seven

Given this is the month in which we recall the archangels I thought it would be fitting to end with the history of the St Michael prayer. On October 18th of 1884, Pope Leo XIII fainted during a consultation with the Cardinals. At first it was thought that he been taken ill but in a very short time the pope revived and shared something of the terrible vision he had experienced of the spiritual attack the church was soon to undergo. He had also seen how the Archangel Michael was prevailing against the evil spirits that were in warfare against the church. It was shortly after that that he composed the Prayer of Protection of St Michael. This prayer until very recently was evoked after every Mass and, in some churches, this practice is coming back.

In preparing for September’s quick takes I examined a few different calendars of saints and feast days and thought I would thought I would share  one of them on the chance you might like to be able to read and learn about the many various saints that our church recalls during the month of September.

I would like to close with the prayer to Saint Michael before bidding you adieu.

sept st michael prayer
See you next month…


Thanks to Jen at Conversion Diary for hosting 7 Quick Takes!! Check out her post and the many, many links at the end for lots of 7 Quick Takes posts from all over the blogosphere.

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Happy Lupercalia, Saints, Valentines, Birthday

What connection could possibly exist among a bawdy Roman fertility festival, the deaths of holy saints, a sentimental holiday, and the birthday of a modern child? Plenty.

Lupercalia was celebrated in mid-February from prior to Julius Caesar (It is mentioned in Shakespeare’s historical play of the same name.) to its outlawing, attributed to Pope Gelasius in the fifth century. The ceremony involved naked young men sacrificing goats, and then running a course while waving around the goat skins. Women lined the path’s edges, presenting themselves to be smacked by the skins, hoping for good luck in childbirth, or to be purged from the bad luck of infertility. Afterward, spectators and participants lounged about the cave where Romulus and Remus were rumored to have been nursed by a she-wolf (Lupus), flirting, eating, and hopefully getting those long-for babies coming. In AD 278, during Lupercalia, a priest was beheaded by Claudius the Cruel.


The Saints Valentine were actually several martyred priests of the Roman Empire, of whom are told legendary stories of daring, rebellion, and romance: performing secret weddings, aiding prison excapes, and penning notes from behind bars on heart-shaped leaves, signed, “from your Valentine.” At least one of them was killed on February 14 and it was his feast day that replaced Lupercalia per Pope Gelasius’ decree. The good saints were venerated as part of the liturgical rhythm for eight hundred years. Then a poet gave voice to his feelings on art and love.

Chaucer’s 14th century poem, The Parliament of the Fowls, contains this couplet, “For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate,” for the first time connecting the name of the loving saints with mating birds. From this, our current celebration of love pursued and proclaimed hails. Many special friendships commenced with cards (to the tune of 190 million a year) and dinners; many relationships deepened with diamonds and proposals; many marriages made and anniversaries honored on this day.

Last year’s Valentine’s Day, this married couple, grateful to God for healthy fertility (without bloody goat skins, thankfully), welcomed a new soul to the world, appreciating the prayers of the Valentine saints. Our adorable Adah Marie is one year old today, shamelessly dressed in hearts and flowers! Like women 3000 years ago, I rejoice in the blessing of a child with much jubilation. And introspection.

Even in pagan Rome before the life of Jesus was known, people desired love and children, meaning and ceremony, fun and entertainment, beauty and alleviation of suffering.  These universal desires of the human heart from time immemorial find rest and fulfillment in the Son of God. This is the connection among Lupercalia, martyrs, sentiments, and babies ~TRUE LOVE.  Jesus changed everything.

For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  (John 3:16)

Grow old along with me; the best is yet to be.  (Robert Browning)

Eighty-six years I have served Him and He has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King and Savior?  (Polycarp, moments before his execution)

Adah Marie, sweet as can be.  (Me, in a little tune I sing to her.)