MURRELLS INLET—Prayer is the vital bond that can help us remain connected with our loved ones who have passed away.
That was the message offered by Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone at an All Souls Day Mass that he celebrated in the columbarium at St. Michael Church on Nov. 2.
Each year, Bishop Guglielmone has made it a custom to honor All Souls Day at a Catholic cemetery in the diocese. This was the first year that he celebrated Mass at a columbarium. He said more people are choosing cremation and interment in the small vaults, so it was appropriate to offer Mass there. He noted that the niches placed next to churches are similar to parish graveyards because people can stop and visit the resting place of loved ones before or after attending Mass.
The Mass attracted about 200 people who filled chairs placed around the tranquil gardens, which includes a central pool with statues of Jesus and four angels at the corners. The crowd included parishioners and visitors, plus teachers and students from St. Michael School.
During his homily, Bishop Guglielmone also spoke about All Saints Day, which is held Nov. 1 as a time to honor the men and women who, through lives of holiness, achieved true union with God. All Souls Day, however, is a chance to offer prayers for souls in purgatory, who still have to go through a period of purification. He said the day is an opportunity for the entire church to truly be at one through prayer.
“Purgatory is a time of shedding all those things that keep us from true intimacy with God,” he said. “We need to pray for those whose lives on earth have ended and who need our prayers as they go through their time of purification. As the church, we call ourselves a communion of saints, and that includes those who have made it to heaven, those who struggle with purification and those who still walk the journey here on Earth.”
He also encouraged people in attendance to strive for holiness in their lives, and to remove things from their lives that might prevent them from achieving holiness and therefore require time in purgatory.
“We need to live the Beatitudes a well as the Ten Commandments in our journey on earth, and we need to get rid of obstacles,” Bishop Guglielmone said. “It could be power, prestige, manipulation of others, lust. We must ask ourselves how committed we are to overcome those things blocking us from God.”
He said the best way to pray for deceased loved ones is to pray for their souls.
“We don’t know at what stage they are in their journey to God, but our prayers are never in vain,” he said. “There is no stronger connection we can have with those who have passed on than to pray for them.”
All photos, Miscellany/Christina Lee Knauss: Top, students from St. Michael School in Murrells Inlet join in prayer for departed loved ones during the celebration of Mass on All Souls Day, held Nov. 2 at St. Michael Church.