Right from the very morning of the Catholic Faith, belief in the forgiveness of sins has always been jealously guarded by the apostles and their immediate successors. The Church professes faith in the forgiveness of sins and the purification from the guilt of sin, both in this world and in the world to come (Matt. 12:32). This apostolic disposition forms the ground upon which the doctrine of Purgatory is rooted in the Catholic Faith. November 2 of every year is therefore mapped out in the Church as a special day of prayers for the dead in the Universal Church. On such a day, each catholic priest has the obligation to offer three Masses for the hasty purgation of the souls of the faithful departed, who are traditionally believed to be in a state known as purgatory, where they undergo the experience of God’s temporary merciful immolation and chastizement of their souls to safe them from possible taints and debt acquired in sin and not yet completely atoned for while they were on earth.
It is in union with the Universal Church in this faith, that the Catholic Bishop of Okigwe, Most Rev. S. A. Amatu, mounts his Cathedral on the evening of November 2, 2023 to offer the third mass for the day in fervent prayer for the faithful departed. The Bishop, accompanied by the Diocesan Chancellor, Very Rev. Fr. Princewill Iwuanyanwu, arrived the Cathedral Parish at 4:45pm, and began the Holy Mass at exactly 5:00pm, flanked by Very Rev. Fr. Bartholomew Nnaemedo, the Vicar General ll, and the Very Rev. Fr. Michael Ohalete, Dean of Okigwe Deanery/Cathedral Administrator, and concelebrated by a host of other priests from parishes around Okigwe and beyond.
In the course of his homily the bishop explained the grounds for this ancient doctrine of the Church, and further reminded the gathered congregation of the special spiritual benefits the departed faithful can gain from our prayers. Hence he encouraged everyone to utilize the special moment of grace in the Church, the first eight days of November, to save atleast one soul from Purgatory.
The bishop also emphasized how the feast of the day invites all Christians to strive for holiness. He explained that the bliss of heaven cannot be attained by chance; rather there must be a conscious and delicate interest and hard work. This according to him, is the implication of the Prophets’ announcement that ‘the Lord has prepared a banquet for us on the high mountain.’ Were this banquet set in a valley, the bishop said, one may perhaps slip and fall into the valley. But the idea of a mountain indicates that anyone who must attend the banquet, must climb. And it must be consciously done.
The Mass was brought to a close with a vote of thanks by the Cathedral Administration at 6:50.