Praying for the Holy Souls, an act of love

The faithful pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory at St Michael’s Chapel at Sydney’s Rookwood Cemetery during Mass for All Souls Day. PHOTO: Patrick J Lee

Baptism is your passport to heaven, but your visa depends on how much you have loved while on earth.

That’s what Fr Danny Nouh told those gathered for the annual All Souls Day Mass at St Michael’s Chapel at Rookwood Cemetery on 2 November.

“Our ultimate goal is heaven, my brothers and sisters, and eternal life with Christ. Let us live each day as if it were our last in the hope that we will see his face tomorrow,” Fr Nouh told the congregation of 120 mostly young people.

Fr Danny Nouh gives his homily during the All Souls Day Mass at Rookwood Cemetery. PHOTO: Patrick J Lee

While many like to assume that their departed loved ones are in heaven, Fr Nouh said, love demands that we pray for our faithful departed, that they may enjoy eternal life in heaven.

“Sadly, most people at the time of a funeral are convinced that their husband, wife, brother, sister, loved one, is already in heaven. I say sadly, because, we can and should pray for the dead. Those in heaven don’t need our prayers. However, those in purgatory do.”

“I don’t know about you but when I die, I want people praying to God for me, not assuming that I don’t need their prayers.”

Dominican Sisters pray during the All Souls Mass. PHOTO: Patrick J Lee

Following the evening Mass, the faithful processed outside, walking around the tombs as they sang the ancient Maronite “Incense Hymn.”

They then processed back into the Chapel, singing, “Oh Mother of God,” calling on Our Lady’s intercession.

Tony Mattar, who helped to organise the Mass along with the Knights of the Immaculata, said the All Souls Mass at Rookwood Cemetery has been held for the last four years.

The procession makes its way through the cemetery. PHOTO: Patrick J Lee

Mr Mattar said he was originally inspired to organise the Mass after reading a papal document explaining the Plenary Indulgence attached to praying for the dead.

“It’s a reminder, especially on the Feast of the Holy Souls, how important it is to pray for the dead. And how often we can forget about those who have gone before us. It’s a great witness to physically be there [the cemetery] to pray for the dead.”

“When you’re actually walking [through the cemetery] and seeing names of people [on tombstones], sometimes someone might have the same name as you, and it might make you realise, hey, that’s going to be me one day.

One of the organisers of the All Souls Day Mass, Tony Mattar (right), helps to light candles for the procession through Rookwood Cemetery. PHOTO: Patrick J Lee

“What’s even more inspiring is that that Chapel [St Michael’s] is built where a lot of the priests are buried and so it’s a reminder how important it is to also pray for priests, which you wouldn’t be reminded of if you weren’t praying at the cemetery.”

A poignant moment during the Mass, Mr Mattar said, was at the elevation when Fr Nouh held up the host and a “massive gust of wind” entered through the Chapel doors.

“Everyone was commenting on it,” he said. “It was as if the souls had just escaped purgatory and had entered heaven. It was something really special.”

 

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