In the Catholic Church, the month of November is specially dedicated to praying for the dearly departed. The month commences by honouring All Saints on 1st November and All Souls on 2nd November. The Church holds a special remembrance Mass every year on All Souls Day to pray for those who have passed away in the last 12 months. During this time, family members come for Masses, pray for the souls of their loved ones and visit the cemetery or columbarium, with prayerful hearts.
Does the human lifespan have a limit? Do you want to live longer?
From the Book of Genesis (chapters 5-25), it is said that some Patriarch Fathers lived for up to 900 years. For instance, Methuselah is said to have lived till he was 969 years old (Gn 5: 27). Noah is believed to have lived for 950 years (Gn 9: 26), while Mahalalel died when he was 895 years old. This list goes down until Abraham, who lived to the age of 175 (Gn 25: 7) and Moses, who lived for 120 years (Deut 34: 7). Living up to 100 today is not unheard of, but it is still rare. The average lifespan is 70 years, and with good health and strength, it is possible to live up to 80 years (cf. Psalms 90:10).
A recent study shows that the human lifespan will increase to between 120 and 150 years in the coming decades. We must thank the latest technological advancements, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), which enables people to put on wearable devices that will track their health status. These devices will be connected to doctors and hospitals, who will be able to recommend necessary lifestyle changes at an early stage to improve health, resulting in a longer lifespan.
Quality of life becomes increasingly important as we age. Our priority is not longevity but rather a focus on healthy living, including healthy spiritual life. No one lives on this earth permanently. Life begins with God, and it ends with Him. Life is a journey - a pilgrimage, that leads us to a final encounter with Him. He blesses us with countless gifts and calls us to live a life filled with love and faithfulness to His creative purpose for us.
On this All Souls’ Day, we should remind ourselves that our lives are short and, therefore, we should strive to purify our minds and hearts here on earth, before Purgatory. This purification may be tough and painful, yet it is necessary for our growth, and for being fully formed in God. It prepares us for a great destiny, created by God for eternal life - an intimate communion of life with Him, forever.
It is never easy to say goodbye to the people we hold near and dear. Although it can bring sadness, it is important to cherish their memories. Remember that departed souls depend on our prayers. So, we offer prayers fervently for them today and through the month of November for those who are now going through their final stages of purification in purgatory, before entering into the Communion of God, seeing Him face to face - Beatific Vision. May their souls and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.