From the hand of Fr. Aaron Ferris…July 31, 2016

Father Aaron FerrisLast weekend I mentioned that two priests of the diocese had died. Our first interest is always in praying for their souls, as it is with all those who have died. Each and every person, at death, comes before the judgment seat of God, and their eternal destiny is determined. We pray that each and every person is judged according to the mercy of God.

Even that mercy, though, can be hard, for Purgatory is no light matter. Yes, Purgatory is an expression of God’s love and mercy, but it is an experience of suffering and poverty, an experience of deprivation and pain. It is the time, the place, the experience of our self-love being purged away and the penalty of our sins being paid. We have some idea of how difficult this is in this life through an active life of penance, but here we have the benefit of distractions and entertainments; we even have the simple reality of sleep to interrupt the sufferings of life. There is no such comfort for the Poor Souls.

This is why we pray in a special way for those who have died. They are past the point of earning merits for themselves; only we, those who still live, can earn the merits for those who have died, can assist in their purification, and can help them through the sufferings of Purgatory into the glory of heaven. It is a great work of charity on our part to pray for and to offer up our sacrifices for those who have died.

I said this is the first thing we think about when someone dies. When a priest dies, our second interest is in vocations: who will replace these men at God’s altar? Fr. Donn Tufts had been retired for a couple years before passing away. He may not have been a pastor, but retired priests do a tremendous amount of work around the diocese filling for priests who are sick, who are on vacation, who have a larger Mass schedule than one priest can handle. The retired priests provide a vital service for God and God’s people.

Fr. Phil Salmonowicz was still a pastor, which is an even harder spot to fill. Right now I think we have enough priests to go around, sort of, kind of, maybe, but it gets tighter and tighter every year, and it would not take much to truly upset the applecart. Who will replace the men who have been lost?

It is always important to be praying for and encouraging vocations to the priesthood. We all need priests. I need priests to hear my confession, to anoint me when I am gravely sick, and to be a father to me in the life of the Church. We all need priests, and so we all need to be doing our part to encourage the men and the boys in our families and in our parishes to consider this life of service to God and to our neighbor.

Rev. Aaron Ferris
Rev. Aaron Ferris
Rev. Aaron R. Ferris Ordination Date: June 6, 2009 Pastor, St. Anthony Parish (Saranac) and St. Mary’s Parish (Lowell) 402 Amity Street Lowell, MI 49331 Phone: 616-897-9820
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