Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of November 2, 2008
All Souls Day
1st Reading: Job 19:1, 23-27a; Psalm 26; 2nd Reading: Rom 5:5-11; Gospel: Jn 6:37-40
The word "resurrection" is the only one that can be uttered and proclaimed on the day dedicated to our loved ones, living before God. I have said before that I do not like the word "deceased", I call them "living before God", because they are those who live either waiting for their encounter with God or an encounter that has already taken place. Yesterday we have pondered on the words of the Holy Scriptures talking about the militant Church, and we still belong to it in its historical process, and we have reflected on the triumphant Church.
Today we will examine the private revelation and I would like to emphasize, once again, that it too comes from God and has Him as the source. De Lubac, one of the greatest theologians of the past century, wrote more than once that private revelations should be greeted with the same joy and same respect with which the public revelation is received, because it is the same person, God, who is giving us certain things and stating certain truths, even if this occurs in different ways and times.
Even after the death of the last apostle, God continues to speak in so many ways; we must, however, be sure and check the authenticity of the source, but this answer is always applicable: "If you want, accept it, if you do not want, dot not accept it". Many things have changed in the Church and must change also the attitude of ecclesiastical authority with respect to private revelations.
Let's go back to our loved ones "living before God". In all churches, missals and Holy Mass leaflets, we find this sentence: "Commemoration of all the faithful departed". The term "Commemoration" I do not like because it is also used to remember people who had nothing to do with Christian faith, with Christ and with revelation. If we continue to make use of this term, we have to add precise meanings, relevant to facts we have known over the years through the letters of God and the apparitions of the Mother of the Eucharist. With the expression "faithful living before God" we entertain more than a memory, we continue to have a relationship and a deep union with them. This bond, between us living on earth and those living in the afterlife, is felt in a special and quite beautiful, lively and effective way at the time of the Eucharistic celebration.
Throughout today's liturgy, both in the readings and prayers, we have again and again the expression "resurrection" and we actualize Christ's resurrection in the Holy Mass. The Eucharistic celebration is passion, death and resurrection, hence from a theological point of view, namely, from God, it is in it that we are able to have with our departed, living before Him, supreme and infinite truth, this profound union, because all will be reunited and unified in Christ. In Him there is a union between those who have gone before us in the afterlife and us, still remaining in the present moment. So in addition to "commemoration", there is also the possibility of encounter, to the point that there is even an exchange of prayers. We pray for the "living before God": for those who are in Purgatory so it may speed up their entry into Paradise, and for those who are in Heaven, so they may present our prayers to God and they may use them to make some requests or by entrusting them entirely to God, so He may dispose of them as He wants.
This is one of the most beautiful and comforting realities, hence we should not pine or torment in the memory of our loved ones with whom we have severed the relationship, for the relationship remains, actually, in a sense, it is more secure and stronger than the one we had with them on earth. Many times, in fact, by living on this planet, we are not able to reach our loved ones for several reasons.
We have to see "Commemoration" as a union, same as walking towards God. Furthermore, we believe in the same truths in which they believe, we worship the Triune God, as they worship the Triune God, we love Our Lady, as they love Our Lady, we bow before the public and private revelation, as they bow before the public and private revelation. We have more in common with them than, at times, with our own relatives or even with members of the same community because between us and those who are in Purgatory and Paradise the same reality exists. In fact, both we and them, in different ways and in varying quantities, have the grace and this allows us to be united. At times, however, in families there is not the same union, there is only an exterior union. If a family member is in a state of grace and the other is not, there can be no union, there is disunity and there is fragmentation that many times shows up and ends up in disputes, quarrels and wickedness.
Here it is, today we find this comforting reality: with our loved ones "living before God" we have a solid, strong and comforting union. We would like that everybody go to Heaven, and we are committed to this purpose: today's Mass is in fact celebrated for the relatives of all our community members still in Purgatory, so they too may soon ascend to Heaven. We are helping them in the best way, in the highest and most secure way. In Purgatory, the Mother of the Eucharist spoke many times about it, there is suffering, but it is completely different from that of the souls in Hell on which I do not want to talk. The souls in Purgatory suffer, but it is a pain turning into grief, into sadness, for they cannot see God as yet, and this is the cause of their unhappiness. Perhaps, we who are still on earth, are unable to understand properly this concept because you do not understand it with human intelligence, with reasoning, but only through experience. So Let us trust the experience of our dear ones who are begging us to give them some gifts through the celebration of H. Mass, prayers, Eucharistic adoration and good deeds, done in favor of the needy and sick people. Charity is uniting us deeply. However, there is also a warning from them, a gentle warning, for they love (love is the only virtue remaining in Heaven, but love also exists in Purgatory). Today, if they could speak and if I could give voice to their demands, I'm sure they would say: "Dear brothers, do everything you can to avoid being in Purgatory, strive to live an authentic and sincere Christianity, made of pure love, give yourselves to the others sparing no effort". Their sorrow knows moments of serenity when they know that the people they knew, with whom they have had, during their lifetime, affection or blood ties, go directly to Heaven. They rejoice about that because there is no jealousy or envy in Purgatory and the way these souls act, as they are saved souls, leads us to imitate their example. Why be envious of others, why be jealous of others? We must give our love to the others the same way as they do. These souls live in expectation, an expectation that somehow resembles the expectation of the Jewish people concerning the coming of the Messiah: "they await the call from God with apprehension".
We too are waiting for God's voice, God's command, a sign of His, saying enough; they are, therefore, two similar situations. In Purgatory the souls are awaiting the call from God to go to Heaven, we are waiting for God to accomplish and implement what He promised. Even experiences are merging, uniting, mixing and suggest that we have with these souls a multiple and an on going relationship.
Our Lord, to help us understand the waiting that the souls in purgatory are experiencing, shows it through visions, as in the case of the apostle John, who saw the militant and triumphant Church. Similarly, to our sister Marisa our Lord showed what the waiting was: she saw our parents sitting and suffering because they missed something, as they would not see Our Lady, or the angels, or saints. In addition, to make us understand that the waiting progressively decreases, our Lord showed Marisa that the chairs moved gradually upward. Through images we come to reality and the reality is this: we live the expectation of the great longing of God's call.
I am in the same situation as Dante was, when he wrote about Hell he did not have many difficulties, when then he had to describe Purgatory it was more difficult. When he described Paradise he was lost, since only those who have received from God the gift to visit it, if only for a limited time, can talk about it. Also in this case it is clear, once again, the importance, the dimension of private revelation. No one, in two thousand years of Christianity has reached such a knowledge of Heaven, to the point to know that there is a division between the waiting Paradise and the Paradise of beatific vision. We too, until recently, were aware of the fact that those who are going to Heaven will see God immediately, but He wanted us to know, and I do not know why He told us, especially after twenty centuries, that not all souls going to Heaven see God immediately. There is a "waiting Paradise" where the souls, unlike Purgatory, are happy, even if it is an incomplete, not exhaustive happiness. In the "waiting Paradise" the souls see Our Lady, the saints and angels, I have not well understood if they see Jesus too, as He has a body, but they do not see the mystery of God, do not see the Trinitarian mystery. At this point our knowledge is exhausted, no one can describe God.
Throughout the ages, we thought of Him incorrectly: a venerable old man, bearded, serious, severe, inflexible. We have found just the opposite, we know it because He said He was young, and added: "In Heaven they are all young". Cheer up you in your seventies, eighties and beyond, we must go to Heaven just to be, all of us, young again! God is not inflexible, is demanding, we are discovering it by what Marisa is saying or as far as I can tell, but He is also fatherly, in fact, at my request: "Can we call you Dad?" He answered: "Sure". He is affectionate, playful and often likeable as well. That's what God is. When He asks certain things, our liking decreases a little, but we are human, and rightly so. All this we have learned through private revelations, that's why they are so important.
I repeat again the reason why people in the "waiting Paradise", and God already calls them holy, do not see Him. I have said and I say it again for those who may have forgotten, or have not heard because absent. Charity is the only virtue remaining in Heaven, and God wants us to practice it at the highest degree, taking into account our capacities and potential. God is giving each of us a height of love and charity which we must attain; if we do not attain the height He wants, you have to get it in the waiting Paradise. If there is so much love in Purgatory, as I have already said, so much more there is in Heaven, for the souls that are in the "waiting Paradise", continue to exercise the only remaining virtue, namely love, to attain the level God has chosen for each of them.
Each of us has different levels, for we have a different responsibility, experience, culture and age. God sets the height of love we have to achieve and when we get to that level, He is the first to rejoice saying: "Come, I am waiting for you". It is really Him the first to be happy, and this we have experienced it: We felt his joy when He admitted in the "Paradise of beatific vision" people we know, either because they are tied to us by love, friendship, kinship, or because they are the latest Popes. God's joy is great when calling those people to Him. These people too burst with joy when at last, as John says, see God "sicut est" - "as He is".
We, facing all this, cannot set a date for us in Purgatory or in the "waiting Paradise". We aim higher and it is not pride or arrogance. We can do it. If we do not fly straight into the "Paradise of beatific vision" we only are to blame, for God has given us whatever is necessary to get there. So, let's do it, let's commit, let's grit our teeth and let's move on. I cannot rule out that somebody, in the future, may be declared a saint by the Church, by the ecclesiastic authority, and as I have said and as Our Lady often says, who knows, one day we might see in S. Peter's square our tapestry, our curtain unroll. It is clear we are not interested in it. We are not interested in statements from men, but only from God, and when God says: "He is a Saint", we have to believe it and I hope that He may say the same to each of you. This is possible although difficult. You have to exert great strength, sometimes even against yourselves, against your own desires, your own inclinations and ideas. Holiness is a commitment at everyone's reach, those who do not believe it prove they have little faith in God; I cannot say more than take courage, grit your teeth and move on. God does not impute the complaint, at least to those who are called to be like his Son on the cross. However, be careful, the same complaint made by a person or by another may have a different impact, those who complain and have no reason for it take their responsibility, those who complain and have a good reason for it have an anticipated absolution from God.
Now, let us unite with the living before God and everybody else, the expiating Church, militant Church and triumphant Church, let us adore God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Praised be Jesus Christ. Now and forever.