Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 13, 2006
All Souls Day a time to pray for the dead
By BILL GLEN
"The primary thing we do at a funeral is to offer the Eucharist for the dead.
"I wasn't exactly screaming out, but I was saying 'no.' We might say funerals are for the family members and friends who have lost the one they love. And they can be a tremendous source of consolation. But the funeral is for the one who is dead. We pray for the dead.
"People don't just live on through vaguely and gradually evaporating memory. They are alive in Christ," he said.
"The reality of death for us as Christians is not a wall, but a bridge. It is not the end, but the beginning.
"The primary thing we do at a funeral is to offer the Eucharist for the dead. It is a gracious reality."
Collins recalled moments of his recent ad limina visit to Rome along with other Western Canadian bishops. One of their tasks was to say Mass at the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul.
"This is where Mass was offered at the very earliest of times to pray for those who have gone before us. We ask for the saints to pray for us and our brothers and sisters."
Collins said priests are encouraged to celebrate three Masses on All Souls Day to pray for the deceased. The Church teaches that "the four ultimate realities" are death, judgment, hell and heaven.
"We don't often talk about them but they are there. Death reminds us of how frail we all are," Collins said.
We must be accountable for our lives as we will be judged, he said. The judge we encounter is a loving Lord.
Hell and heaven are then the final two realities.
Collins said purgatory is often thought of as one of the four ultimate realities - as a "short-term hell with a little fire and not eternal fire."
But purgatory is actually a dimension of heaven, he said.
"As we are in purgatory in the state of purification, we are on our way to heaven. Purgatory is the vestibule of heaven," Collins said.
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.