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12th FOUNDATION DAY MESSAGE OF BISHOP TAGLE

Homily of Bishop Tagle
12th Foundation Day of PWHS
St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Gen. Trias, Cavite
July 30, 2004

Good morning to every-one. Congratulations to Prayer Warriors of the Holy Souls on their 12th Foundation Anniversary. Also, welcome to Gen. Trias, Diocese of Imus Cavite. The readings for our celebration today show a deep truth about our life especially if we will relate it to praying for our departed loved ones in purgatory. There are two things that I’d like to focus on.

First is, every Sunday and every time we pray the rosary, we pray the Creed. At the end of that prayer we say, "we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints…" Hopefully, by praying for the souls in purgatory, this part of our faith will be restored. We pray to the angels, to the saints, to Mother Mary, to the martyrs. We pray for our departed loved ones and we pray for one another because we believe that we are part of what is called "communion of saints."

When we say "saints", we’re not only talking about those who were already canonized and those with statues. Scripture says that all who believe in Jesus are called to be holy – saints! And so when we say communion of saints, we who believe in Jesus are already set apart for Him. We belong to Jesus and we can really be called holy. And because all of us belong to Jesus, we are united. The good deeds of one affect the others, as well as the sin of one also has an effect to everyone. Praying for our faithful departed is believing that we are so united that even death cannot break our communion. The power of death is weak when compared to our communion. It cannot even separate us from our loved ones who already died. Is there anyone here whose spouse died already? Can I have a raise of hands of the widows and widowers? Quite a few... For the widows and widowers, do you still feel a connection with your spouses even after they died? Do you still dream about them? Do you miss them? Who among you are happy that your spouse is gone already?

This is a deep part of our faith. Communion is stronger than death. Even death cannot separate us from one another. This is why communion is alive even in prayer. This is an important part, not only of our faith but also of our daily life. Look at what’s happening in our society, in the world. It is as if communion is very easily broken. In politics, communion is damaged – today they’re friends the next day, they compete with one another. In the economy, communion is damaged – the rich go their own way, the poor are neglected.

In our world today, communion can be easily broken by anyone or anything. A very small matter can break communion. You can be killed if someone doesn’t like your face or the way you smile – communion seems to be the weakest part of our life. Nowadays, it is as if division is more powerful. When I was a very young priest, married people who have problems come to me to ask, "Father, help me to reconcile with my spouse." They are after communion. Today, when they come, they ask, "Father, how’s the process of annulment?" It’s as if separation is the solution even for a very small problem. And this is what the Prayer Warriors want to convey. We believe that nothing should break our communion, even death.

And so through our relationship and apostolate, let us not only do it for the departed but also for our daily life. Let us prove that there is power in the communion of the saints, that unity is stronger than division, that even death cannot separate us. How about money? Can it separate us? Again, communion should be stronger than anything else. Secondly, the gospel today calls us to be on guard, to always be prepared because we never know when the time will come that we have to face our Creator. Our prayer for our departed loved ones also shows our belief that we are not pure or clean or even prepared to face the Lord when we leave our life here on earth.

God is good. He gives us a chance to be purified even after our death. The love of Jesus cleanses us. Our good works here on earth, our prayers, and our sacrifices help in the purification of the souls of our faithful departed. But this I ask of you, we may be praying for those whom we love but let us not forget that we need to purify ourselves in our day to day to life. Please don’t think that it’s okay to sin and neglect your purity while still alive, believing that Prayer Warriors will surely pray for you when we die, anyway. Please don’t say, "I don’t have to worry about my renewal. If I do, what will be left for Prayer Warriors to do? Whom else will they pray for?" That is wrong. While we pray for the purification of the souls in purgatory, let us also strive for our own purification while still alive. Isn’t it a big contradiction that we pray for the purification of others who already passed away when we don’t strive for our own purification? Let me give a few examples.

Someone once approached me and said: "Bishop, I think my husband is in purgatory." I answered, "What made you think that?" And then she said, "You see, I know him. He is proud and doesn’t like the poor so much. There’s a lot to be cleansed with him. That’s why I really pray for him." This woman prays for his husband’s purification from pride. Unfortunately she didn’t realize that she needs the same kind of prayer as much as he did. I was so tempted to say, "Okay, pray for your husband while I pray that you won’t die now so you can purified before your death comes."

It’s the same with communion, while the souls are being purified, we also must be purified while still alive so that together we are being cleansed. This is a teaching that we often neglect and take for granted but is really important for our daily life. This is the message: First, communion is very important. Don’t let anything, even death destroy unity. Second, everyone, both the living and the dead need purification. Strive to be purified now while still alive and in death, hopefully our loved ones, especially the Prayer Warriors will continue to be with us in purification. But we need to start now because we never know the day, the time and the place when the Lord comes. Is that okay? Now let us all stand for the prayers of the faithful.

(Bishop Tagle’s original homily was mostly in Tagalog and which had been translated to English; some parts had to be deleted due to space constraints. ED)