When I was a young curate in a New Jersey parish, we had many people come to the friary to request Masses be offered for their deceased relatives and friends. One day, as our secretary, Jessie, and I were working on a project, a recent widow, Anna, came to ask for a Mass for the repose of the soul of her husband of 44 years. As Jessie was filling out the Mass card, Anna turned to me and, with tears in her eyes, asked, "Father, who will pray for me when I die? Who will remember to offer Mass for me if I go to purgatory? I really want to be with my husband in heaven, and I'm so afraid that there's no one else left to have Masses said."

“On earth, we join all the saints in heaven to pray for all the souls in purgatory, and our brothers and sisters in heaven intercede for us as well.”

— Rev. Jude DeAngelo, OFM Conv.

I turned to Anna and said, "I'll pray for you, Anna. I'll offer Mass for you." And then Jessie chimed in, "Father, don't you mean we'll pray for Anna and have Mass offered for her?" Anna turned to her and asked, "Who is the 'we' you are talking about?" And Jessie, without missing a beat, said, "Well, your husband, when he gets to heaven, will be praying, and here on earth your family, Anna. Your parish family will be praying." Anna left that day smiling with her mind and heart relieved.  And I looked at Jessie (the better theologian in the room) and said, "Thank you." 

Jessie reminded both Anna and me that the Church is the communion of saints and that we are all connected to one another in Christ. The relationship of the members of the Body of Christ cuts across time and into eternity. On earth, we join all the saints in heaven to pray for all the souls in purgatory, and our brothers and sisters in heaven intercede for us as well.

As we offer Masses throughout the month of November for anyone in our Catholic University community who has died, we are very conscious that our deceased alumni are important members of our community for whom we pray. And, we know by faith that our alumni in heaven are interceding for us as well.