From nowadays until the end of the liturgical year, in our liturgical prayer more and more Holy Church represents for our consideration the reality of the Four Last Things: Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. These themes dovetail into the new liturgical year with Advent, which, again considered from the content of her liturgical prayers, is more about the Lord’s Second Coming and the Four Last Things even than it is about the First Coming.

Hence, as sunshine is curtailed in our Northern Hemisphere and we are increasingly defoliated, chill and wan, during these days we receive the customary evocative liturgical glimpses of Heaven on the feast of All Saints (aka All Hallows), and a view of Purgatory on All Souls. The former must fill us with hope and joy at the knowledge that such a state awaits us because of the loving, propitiatory Sacrifice of our Saviour. The latter must fill us with compassion for our brethren who still await their joy, in purifying sorrow for their defects. And we must wonder about our own ultimate end which inescapably involves death and a grave.

Speaking of customary, in some places we Catholics make soul cakes for All Hallows Eve, All Saints and All Souls. They were of yore distributed especially to the uncostumed poor who went door to door during this Hallowmas season. They are easy to make. You can find recipes within the interwebs. Perhaps these little cakes might take some anxiety from thinking about your own death’s sting. You could, on a chilly night, have a nip while listening to Sting’s recording of the haunting song about soul cakes. It mentions Peter and Paul, though not Mary, although Peter, Paul and Mary also recorded a version.

Just about every version of the tune, weighed and sifted like soul cake spices, may give you pause and fill you with pathos for both the Poor Souls and for the earthly poor in front of you. Now.

These next few weeks have sweet, scary reminders in which we should indulge, even as we eagerly seek the special indulgences for the Poor Souls which Holy Mother Church has confected in her authoritative oven from the sweet merits of Christ and His glorious saints in Heaven.

Visit a cemetery around All Souls. Pray for the dead. Help the poor. Taste the Lord’s goodness, for He allows us to be agents of His mercy.

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