And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day.

What happens when we die?

It is one of the greatest questions of all time and inquiring minds want to know: What should we expect after we die? What will it look like? Yet, it is exceedingly difficult to answer. No one has come back and filled us in. But we do have guideposts to inform us.

We do know that there are absolutes, heaven and hell. Scriptures tell us that much. We know heaven is paradise and that it is reserved for the holy ones of God. Revelation gives us a picture of what heaven will look like, a place with no more mourning, weeping, pain or fear. Jesus also gave us examples of what Gehenna will be like, a fiery garbage dump where those who lived lives apart from God wail and gnash their teeth. We know from the story of Lazarus the beggar that there is an uncrossable boundary between heaven and hell. Those things give us a fruitful heads-up, a forewarning that no – everyone does not just go to heaven. To say so is in fact heresy.

We know our path starts with faith, faith in Jesus Christ. We need to confess our sins and give ourselves completely to Him. Through baptism and our cognizant profession of faith we are members in His body, and we are washed in His blood. From there, we embark on the path of sanctification – the process of becoming more and more like Jesus. That is why we can never take a break or slowdown in following Jesus. There is always more to become.

This process of becoming and growing in faith is so important because it is an act of caring and cognition – how we live matters. If everyone just goes to heaven, then why Church, why prayer, why the sacraments, why do anything good, why care. If I’m going there anyway nothing really matters. Yes, how we live, how faithful we are matters. How we place our trust in the Father, how we follow the Son’s gospel path and become more like Him, and how we live out the promptings of the Holy Spirit in Strength of Faith one-hundred-percent matters.

Indeed, something happens when we die. We do not just disappear.

The Church, throughout is history, has come up with different theories about what happens after death. At one time, it was thought that the soul did not actually leave the earth for three days – thus one of the purpose of wakes and the funeral on the third day, as well as the Absolution of the Dead. 

Rome placed its bets on the idea of Purgatory, a place of purification – imagine a car with a whole bunch of souls saying – are we there yet? The suffering that leads to purification is achieved in the waiting, in the expectation of desire and longing. The important thing here is the theme of waiting.

The Orthodox do not have any one theory, instead stating that anything we think about the afterlife is ‘speculative theology,’ a theology that tries to define the future by what we do know about God. For this reason, in Orthodoxy, there is diversity in the teachings on what happens after death. This diversity is perfectly okay because attempts at explanation are feeble before the mystery of God. Key concepts are that the soul has awareness, does not lose it identity, and awaits the resurrection of the body because, like Jesus, both body and soul are equally important. Note again the theme of waiting.

There is quite a bit of diversity of thought about what happens immediately after death among Protestants. Most believe that we retain our unique identities after death. Some denominations believe the soul goes immediately to be with Christ in heaven, awaiting the Day of Judgment and a resurrected body. This echoes Paul – but remember that Paul was speaking to Christian communities that were living out their faith deeply and wholeheartedly, often to the point of sacrificial loss. Other Protestants suggest there is an intermediate time of “soul sleep,” an unconscious waiting for the resurrection.

Do the dead go to Sheol – the Jewish concept of a holding tank for souls? No, for Christ emptied that place following His death on the cross.

Further, for our study, Christianity never has taught reincarnation. There is no return trip. While fanciful, it is totally against scripture. Our lives are a what you see is what you get matter.

So why do we pray for the dead, and what is today’s Observance all about?

The Latin phrase Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi literally means “the rule of prayer [is] the rule of belief.” More simply said, we pray what we believe. We pray for the departed based on scriptural instruction and most importantly because of the mystery of the afterlife. We pray for the dead because we believe they need our prayer in a period of waiting.

In the Book of Maccabees (2 Maccabees 12:39-46), Judas Maccabee takes up a collection so prayers will be said for some of his soldiers that had died. Factually, the soldiers were being faithful in fighting for Israel, while at the same time they were unfaithful; their dead bodies were found to be holding idols of false gods. 

And so betaking themselves to prayers, they besought Him, that the sin which had been committed might be forgotten… And making a gathering, he sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection… It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.

We pray because God left us an instruction to do so in Scripture. We pray because we do not know. We pray through the mystery of God, seeking His mercy for our departed loved ones in a time of waiting. Can those not perfectly pure enter heaven by our prayer? Can their sins be forgiven? Is there a place and time of waiting? Our prayer says that is true, and as such we pray and we offer Holy Masses for our departed loved ones, making up by our actions where they had fallen short in life.

This day, in the end, calls us not just to prayer for the dearly departed, but also to an honest evaluation of our own spiritual state, to measure where we are on the road, and toward what destination so that by living genuinely Christian lives and following Jesus’ gospel path more closely we may reduce any time we need to wait in getting there.

We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin.

As I’ve noted in my past few reflections, the end is near! Well, the beginning of the end. As Christians we are to be always prepared for the end times, for the last things, as well as for our own personal end at the time of our death. We will be called to account for how we have carried out our lives, how totally on-board with Jesus we were. 

Throughout November we will pray for those who have died and are awaiting entry into heaven, who are going through a time of purification. Are we absolutely certain of where they are? Did we know the state of their soul or how on-board with Jesus they were? Absolutely not! That is between each individual, their confessor, and God. Because we cannot know, it is proper and charity to offer prayers for them. This is not something invented, rather it is scriptural from the Second Book of Maccabees:

He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection. For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.

2 Maccabees 12:43-45

Your prayers, and offering of the Holy Mass, for departed loved ones helps them get into the Lord’s presence, it helps to atone for their sin, and is thus a worthy thing to do.  It is, in fact, a Spiritual Works of Mercy we should all be doing each day.

Unfortunately, the world, and sometimes the Church, avoids the topic of sin and its consequences. Accountability is a rare focus. Factually however, people sin, and sin a lot. They go forward, not thinking of the consequences, or of the need for purification and perfection before entering heaven. We certainly trust in the salvation won us from the cross of Christ Jesus. We know that He has atoned for our sins, but we must also stay on point, living lives that are pure and holy. We cannot cheapen Jesus’ sacrifice by failing to live the way He requires while sitting in our sins.

There are some important lessons for us to take from this: Take seriously the call to holiness and the gospel path; Do not judge others – no one can know a person’s inner soul but God; and Let us hold ourselves accountable. The call to holiness and to walk in the way of the gospel is absolute for the baptized believer. Hebrews 12:14 tells us: Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. We must all answer for how we lived this out. Let us get as close as possible right now while we have the opportunity and help those who have preceded us to do so by our prayers.

Second Corinthians tells us:

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

2 Corinthians 5:10

Judgment is a dreadful prospect, isn’t it? Being called to account for how I have carried out my life, how totally on-board with Jesus I was worries me. That is why what we do today, throughout November communally, at Holy Masses offered for deceased loved ones, and by our personal prayer and sacrifice is so important.  That is why it is so very important that we remain realistic and ask others to be realistic about us. Don’t canonize me at my funeral and pray for me.

I know I am not worthy of heaven, that I, as St. Paul told the Church at Rome (Romans 3:23): “have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” My sins stand in the way and I pray that my sinful body be done away with, that I no longer remain in slavery to sin and I work to get better. I place my hope in what Paul says next (Romans 3:24): That I am justified freely by His grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus

I am accountable and I am in need of purification. That is why I must work now. That is why I beg my children and ask my friends to pray for me when I die, each day, each November, and to offer as many Holy Masses as possible.

Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.

Revelation 14:12

We start the month of November, as always, with a Solemnity honoring all the saints. Revelation 14:12 challenges the saints to endurance in keeping the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. If there was ever a year in which we have been called to endurance it was this one. What is this saying to us and what can we learn from this? Younger people might say: “I’m gonna hang tough for Jesus, suck it up and stick it out,” but that glorifies our abilities outside of Jesus, saying I can do it on my own. That is not our call, the call to those who would be saints. Rather, we are called to trust fully in Jesus. ‘Here is a call’ is an announcement pointing to the faith of Jesus. It’s the faith of Jesus that must live within us and be our power to face life’s trials. If we focus on ourselves instead of our Savior we set ourselves up for failure. We pose as hardened spiritual Rambos. That promotes self-trust and pretending. Human perseverance is a strength for sure, and God can use it, but that is not enough. God can’t do anything with us when we’re trusting in our own strength or leaning on our own understanding. Paul got it and told the Corinthians to rejoice in weaknesses. For when I am weak, then I am strong. The key to enduring the unendurable is to lift our eyes off present circumstances and ourselves, and to focus on what the Lord will bring about even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us. These challenges and hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us who are called to be saints. What Revelation is saying and what we can learn is this: That Jesus living within us is our true strength, the center of our lives. He calls us to rely on Him and to endure in that truth so that His light shines out of us. Jesus is the treasure within us, called to be saints, with a hope beyond hope and a blessed future.

Welcome to November’s newsletter. This month we focus on the saints and pray for our loved ones in their journey to heaven. There are plenty of thanks to offer as we approach Thanksgiving — so much good has been accomplished by our endurance. We begin planning for our 100th Anniversary, observed in 2021. We invite you to participate in planning, There is a great reflection on what happens on November 4th; what is the Christian to do post election? Also stay tuned for Valentine’s Raffle tickets and our planning for Advent which begins November 29th.

Read about all it in our November 2020 Newsletter.

I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life

We recall the example of the Apostles who proclaimed under persecution: “We must obey God rather than men.” As we consider our vote, let us consider a beautiful garment or a warm blanket. Each thread makes up the whole garment or blanket. Each is vital to its appearance and its strength. Christian moral positions and teaching are like that. We cannot pick out a few threads and consider them more important than the others. The sanctity of life – conception to natural death – peace, freedom, economic justice, the family in God’s image, health care for all, environmental responsibility bear equal weight. As we pray and consider, let us find those candidates who will obey God.

Join us throughout November for great prayer, the remembrance of our dearly departed, and wonderful fellowship. It is the Month of All Souls, Come pray for our country at a series for weekday Holy Masses with a Novena at 8am from October 31st through November 8th. Send in your Polish Food Sale orders. Join us as we host the Mohawk Valley Seniorate Thanksgiving Celebration on Saturday, November 19th at 11 am with Thanksgiving Holy Mass followed by a free Luncheon. All that and more… See this month’s newsletter.

You may view and download a copy of our November 2016 Newsletter right here.

All Souls Remembrances/Wypominki

238Of blessed memory:

All souls entrusted to our prayer by their families

All who have perished in natural disasters and tragedies over the past year
All who gave their lives in service to our Country
All departed Servicemen and women
All departed Civil Servants

Of blessed memory:
Most Rev. Francis Hodur
Most Rev. Dr. Leon Grochowski
Most Rev. Thaddeus Zieliński
Most Rev. Francis Rowiński
Rt. Rev. Joseph Padewski
Rt. Rev. Dr. Casimir Grotnik
Rt. Rev. John Misiaszek

All deceased Bishops of the Holy Polish National Catholic Church

Of blessed memory:
Rev. Augustyn Krauze
Rev. Bolesław Szepczyński
Very Rev. Roman Pawlikowski
Rev. E. Brzozowski
Rev. Joseph Michalski
Rev. J. Jakubowski
Rev. E. Wożniak
Rev. John Toporowski
Rev. E. Kozłowski
Very Rev. Joseph L. Zawistowski
Rev. Joseph Klimczak
Rev. Roman Jasiński
Rev. Walter C. Poposki
Rev. Marian Góra
Rev. Stephen Krawiec
Rev. John Neyman
Rev. Dr. Jonathan Trela

All deceased Priests, Deacons, Sub-deacons, and Orders of Clerics of the Holy Polish National Catholic Church

Of blessed memory:
Deceased members of St. Joseph’s/Holy Name of Jesus Parish of the Holy Polish National Catholic Church
The souls of all those interred in Holy Name of Jesus Cemetery
Deceased members of the Society for the Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament
Deceased members of Branch 50 of the YMS of R
Deceased members of the Concordia Choir
Deceased members of the Harmonia Choir
Deceased members of our Spójnia Branch
Deceased members of the St. Joseph Society
Deceased members of the Maria Konopnicka Society
Deceased members of “Ognisko”
Deceased members of the Children of Mary
Deceased members of the Defender’s Society,
Deceased members of the Mother’s Club

Our Father…
Hail Mary…
Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord
and may the perpetual light shine upon them.
May their souls, and the souls of all the faithful departed, rest in peace. Amen.

Ojcze nasz…
Zdrowaś Maryjo…
Wieczne odpoczynek racz im dać Panie,
a światłość wiekuista niechaj im świeci.
Niech odpoczywają w pokoju, Amen.

Solemnity of All Saints and All Souls Memorials

As the remaining days of October pass the days grow shorter, the colors of autumn take hold, and our thoughts turn to the Commemoration of All Souls.

The Holy Church sets aside the month of November to commemorate those who have preceded us in holy death. As Christians we recognize that death is not an ending, but rather a change. We pass through death into everlasting life. We remain joined with all those who have died. We rely on them for their intercession on our behalf. They rely on our prayers and intercession to ease their transition, their journey into the glory of heaven.

We will remember our dearly departed during the month of November according to age-old Catholic custom of commemoration and prayer…a custom known as “wypominki.”

nekrolog1

If you would like the souls of loved ones to be remembered during the Commemoration of All Souls and at all services throughout the entire month of November, please send the names of these loved ones to Deacon Jim by Sunday, October 27th. Alternately, you can E-mail the names of those you wish commemorated to Deacon Jim.

We will celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints on Friday, November 1st at 7:30pm followed by the reading of the names of all the faithful departed.

There will also be a Commemoration of All Souls at Good Shepherd Parish Cemetery on Truax Road in Amsterdam, NY on Sunday, November 3rd.

Solemnity of All Saints and Observation of All Souls

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. — Hebrews 12:1-2

Let us consider the great cloud of witnesses of old and among in this day and age. Their heroism, endurance, holiness, love of their brothers and sisters, the crosses they bore, the example they provide are not accomplished on their own. Rather, through the grace of God they have been strengthened to do what Jesus asks of all of us. Let us heed their example, knowing that for every failing in our lives, God picks us up, renews us, and enables us to be saints.

Let us also recall that our brothers and sisters who have preceded us in Holy Death are a hopeful sign. Jesus overcame death; so shall we because of our faith in Him. He told us that we who weep and mourn will be comforted. Be comforted in His promise of eternal life. With that confidence, offer up prayers for our friends, family, neighbors, and parishioners who have died. With our prayer, their journey to the heavenly kingdom is eased and their souls are made strong. With our help, they will attain the new and heavenly Jerusalem. There we will stand with them, also among the multitude of angels, saints, elders, and faithful worshiping before the throne of God and the Lamb. The family of faith is eternal, we are all joined together, here and now and forever with God.

Month of All Souls – remember the souls of your family and friends

As the days of October pass the days grow shorter, the colors of autumn take hold, and our thoughts turn to the Commemoration of All Souls. The Holy Church sets aside the month of November to commemorate those who have preceded us in holy death.

As Christians we recognize that death is not an ending, but rather a change. We pass through death into everlasting life. We remain joined with all those who have died. We rely on them for their intercession on our behalf. They rely on our prayers and intercession to ease their transition, their journey into the glory of heaven.

We will remember our dearly departed during the month of November according to age old Catholic custom of commemoration and prayer…a custom known as “wypominki.”

If you would like the souls of loved ones to be remembered during the Commemoration of All Souls and at all services throughout the entire month of November, please send the names of these loved ones to Deacon Jim by Sunday, October 28th. Alternately, you can E-mail the names of those you wish commemorated by E-mail to Deacon Jim.

We will celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints on Thursday, November 1st at 7:30pm followed by the the reading of the names of all the faithful departed.

All Saints and All Souls Day

Holy Mass for All Souls Day (a Catholic Holy Day of Obligation) will be celebrated according to the normal Sunday schedule with Matins at approx. 9:20am and Holy Mass at 9:30am.

16The Observance of All Souls, at which we will remember our dearly departed, will take place in the evening on Monday, November 2nd.

Prayer list envelopes are available in the back of the church to place the names of your dearly departed for All Souls Day/Dzień Zaduszny. The reading of the Rote of the Departed/Wypominki will take place the evening of November 2nd and every Sunday morning throughout the month of November.

May our gracious Lord continue to bless the souls of whom He has brought to eternal life.