This wonderful little monastery in which I have the privilege to serve as chaplain has a cemetery within its enclosure. There are, if I’m not mistaken, seventeen nuns buried there. They have lived and died here in the sixty-two years that this convent has been in existence. There are also two priests laid to rest there; they had some connection with this monastery and obtained the permission of the Bishop to be buried in the monastic enclosure.
Last week the Church celebrated All Saints Day on November 1st and All Souls Day on November 2nd. Then this week, we Dominicans celebrate all the saints of our Order, and the nest day we prayed especially for our members who have died and are still detained in Purgatory.
How do we know which are which? Well, those who have been canonized and beatified by the Church are in Heaven. As for the others who have died but have not received the official stamp of approval, as it were, by the Church, we can’t be sure. So we pray for them, knowing that one of these days, we too will be called into eternal life and will appreciate the prayers of those whom we leave behind.
This communication between the living and the dead is what we call “the Communion of Saints.” When we pray to or for those who have died, if they are already in Heaven, they can help us by their prayers. If they are still in Purgatory, we can help them by ours. We might not know them personally, but we form with them a part of the great community of those who love God and await eternal union with him. So during this month of November when the Church is especially conscious of those who have gone before us, let us honor those who are in Heaven, and pray for those who are awaiting their admittance there. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This Message was composed some years ago.