If you have ever lost anyone that you loved, a family member or friend, or anybody for whom you had a real care and affection, you have almost certainly asked yourself, “Where are they now?” It can be a daunting question. This person that I loved so much, are they now in hell forever? This one who meant so much to me, are they eternally cursing God, eternally cursing their family and all that they held dear in life, because they are now unable to love anything that is good? As I said…a daunting question…one that could easily throw a person into uncontrollable sorrow, fear, and despair. But there is the opposite extreme as well. To presume upon the salvation of somebody is a great injustice, and also a sin against hope.
As Catholics, we have a true hope, and this is one of the greatest beauties of our Faith. Was the deceased extremely sinful or edifyingly pious during their lifetime? It doesn’t matter. Did they die a holy death with the sacraments of the Church, or did they die tragically, perhaps even taking their own life? Mark these words well…it…doesn’t…matter. It doesn’t matter to the true Catholic, to the one who has hope. The Church not only advises us to keep hope, she commands it. In fact, it’s a sin to despair of, or to presume upon, the salvation of a soul. And to fall into either extreme is going to result in the abandonment of prayer for that soul, and your prayers are the only means you have now of showing them the continuation of your love.
Of course, we rejoice at the sight of a life well lived and a holy death, just as we grieve more over the loss of one who lived in sin and died seemingly unrepentant. But that word ‘seemingly’ is what makes all the difference. “Man sees the face, but God sees the heart.” An act of pure love of God, an act of contrition or repentance, these are acts of the will. The will, since it is something spiritual, has two interesting aspects. It cannot be seen, and it can produce an act in the blink of an eye. God is all-powerful, all-merciful, and this is the reason for our hope. He can move a soul to an act of contrition in less than a split second, and it could very easily be something totally imperceptible. This is why we never lose hope, and never cease praying, for the souls of the departed, regardless of their state of mind when we lost them. Never abandon hope. Never abandon prayer. You will never help yourself or your beloved departed ones by doing so. Requiescant in pace. Amen.