On the occasion of the dead, a reflection on the Catholic Church as a pilgrim of hope

catechesis & pastoral -



The meeting point between the pilgrim Church on earth, we mortals, and the triumphant Celestial Church made up of the Saints in Paradise, and the Church purgative, that is, the souls in Purgatory who are preparing for the beatific vision. For this we can learn and see what is the relationship between the Church and Death.


Gabriele Giordano Scardocci, o.p.



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The Island of Patmos is pleased to present to the readers his new Author, Roman theologian Gabriele Giordano Scardocci, Order of Preachers, younger brother of the Dominican theologian Giovanni Cavalcoli and co-founder of this our online magazine. Father Gabriele, a talented teacher of catechesis, It is particularly sensitive to the theological issues fell in apostolate concreteness and pastoral reality.

I always remember a strong apostolic experience in Naples. I was a novice: at the Spanish Quarter, in a house of sisters, Fraticelli us we were with the children for after school. In one of the first meetings, one of the children cared for the sisters', one of the most talented and diligent at school, that day could not concentrate. Suddenly, affectionate with his Neapolitan accent, he said looking into my eyes:


"Brother, the other day my grandfather died '.

"I'm sorry".

"But now you think where is? It was so good to me ".


This was one of the best questions feel that my little pupil could make me. How did that Roman child to Pope Francis, who replied:

"Your grandfather to me, if it was good being in Paradise!»

I replied hoping.

Continues the little boy Neapolitan:

"But according to you, he sees what I do?»

I replied a bit 'hasty:

"Who is with Jesus in heaven, He sees those he loves ".

The small smiled, He looked sideways and said nothing. Then, but with a little 'hard work she resumed its quadernino said:

"I hope to be happy that I'm good at school!»


On this episode I prayed and meditated a lot. I still remember the name and the whole family situation of that child. After six more years that theme reminds me that it is also important to reflect, pray and study the theme of the Church in its earthly and heavenly nature also, and with its specific purpose: the goal over earthly and eschatological.


Even in these moments of great suffering for the Church, I think back on these issues will help the people of God to rediscover the beauty and spirituality of our faith. These reflections may also be a proposal for a reflection also to provide a complete overview with respect to the generation of active nihilism, as he called Umberto Galimberti. Indeed, according to this philosopher and psychologist, the generation of active nihilism is opposed to that of the passive nihilism. The first is a small percentage of those who "do not ignores and does not remove the heavy atmosphere of nihilism without purpose and without it, but not resigned and is promoted in all directions in a very determined effort not to turn off their dreams ". [1]


So welcome the idea galimbertiana that there is a generation capable of bringing forward ideals and values ​​tending to overcome the classic nihilism and lack of sense. But we would also like to add that these values, Catholicism, It proposes the values ​​of hope and eternal life. These tend to create a strong anthropological tension from the experience of a concrete living immanent, ports man to transcend to orient the proper sense in a historical destination condition and eschatological.




The Church on earth or visible, also called pilgrim, SUA has eschatological character: that tends to the Kingdom of God and to form the Celestial Church. This is his ultimate goal. The The light It reiterates in Chapter VII that the Church has this eschatological. The Second Vatican Council did not express much about this: chapter actually is quite short. At the same time, the theme is enormous and fruitful theological reflections. As we will see shortly, already in the Middle Ages, Saint Julian of Toledo [642 – 690], it consists Everlasting prognostic, first treatise of systematic eschatology in which phosphate taboo and eschatological typical errors of his time. It was critical theological work, mostly inspired patristic-Augustinian. Just like San Giuliano demitizzò these realities, We can do the same with the Church. The figure dogma that the Christian community has eschatological character, he has not ruled out the use of literary images to describe those otherworldly. These realities remain true while the images - for example demons with his trident, angels with heavenly robe, il Flegetonte, Orfeo ed Euridice and so on - are just images that evoke in us this reality.


This same discourse of certain theological knowledge but still in progress can be applied to the entire theological matters. For this is also the theory of Karl Rahner, the basic Axion, whereby God reveals himself totally in his manifestation [2], It raises many Trinitarian and Christological issues: as in Christ, true God and true Man, truly God has revealed Himself, However, we do not know fully God. So the dogmatic conciliar definitions give us some small revelation - I repeat again -, real and credible, But the whole Trinitarian reality escapes us. The expression It will be wholly desirous, but not completely maybe you can even apply to the state of eschatological life. That's why eschatology has always been very sober and "stingy" definition. All this on the other side opens the field to study and theological research which helps the Church on her path of research and life according to the teachings of the God man Jesus Christ.


The Magisterium in any case it is expressed not too long ago on the subject of eschatology. A first document is that of the 1979: Letter on Certain Questions Concerning Eschatology [cf. text WHO]. Citing paragraph 7 we observe that neither Scripture nor tradition offer sufficient lights for the hereafter representation beyond. Only poets and writers - think solely Dante Alighieri -, and a little liturgy, They try to describe some characteristic eschatological. While theologians rejected the idea that the eschatological theology was a reportage the Beyond; instead he sought to purify theology from fairytale image, as already mentioned. So all the theological treatises have to base the councils and I believe, and they can be assembled or systematically revisited with the aim to grow an eschatological sense in the people of God. Effectively, a Christianity that is not eschatological, It is not Christianity. That the Church has an eschatological goal: the Church today, earthly or visible, It will end and will reach the Kingdom of God. We can say from the outset that the meeting point between the pilgrim Church on earth, we, Celeste and the Church Triumphant, Saints in heaven, and the Church purgative, that is, the souls in Purgatory who are preparing for the beatific vision. For this, then we can investigate and see what is the relationship between the Church and Death.




The Catechism of the Catholic Church It offers several suggestions for meditation on these issues. First it know that "Death is the end of earthly life" [n. 1007] and further, that "Death is the consequence of sin, and was therefore not a phenomenon routinely expected in the creation " [n. 1008]. But Death does not have the last word, because thanks to Christ, Christian death has a positive meaning: "For me, living is Christ and dying is a gain" [Fil 1, 22]. What it is essentially new about Christian death: through Baptism, the Christian is sacramentally "died with Christ", to live a new life; and if we die in Christ's grace, physical death completes this "dying with Christ" and so completes our incorporation into him in his redeeming act [n. 1010]. So death itself is transformed because Jesus suffered death, as a man like us. Christ took upon himself the death and transformed it in a total way. The death of Jesus was then the way in which God called us by Christ himself. So if we die in Christ, we relive Christ: that we obey Christ to God's plan and in such obedience resurrected. We could almost say that death is one of the "intimate contact" with God himself. However, only in the light of the paschal mystery it unfolds the Christian meaning of death: there is an exile of the body [CF. II Cor 5,8] while the soul goes to live with God. After the death occurred, the man makes her final decision: self excludes or cars includes the presence of God. This is the last act, to use terminology of Hans Urs von Balthasar, who often used effective figures typical of Greek theater in his exhibitions [3].


In this very delicate moment, when man enters eternity, here is who takes over the Church: "The Church encourages us to prepare ourselves at the hour of our death to ask the Mother of God to intercede for us" at the hour of our death " [Ave Maria] and to entrust ourselves to St. Joseph, patron of a happy death " [n. 1014]. By the terms good death we mean that the Church prays that each of us will die in a state of grace.




Saint Julian of Toledo he also wanted to describe the link between the Church and Death, and in particular between Church Earthly, purgante, Celeste. The Spanish author introduces the topic of eschatology ecclesiological for the first time in its history in his treatise Age future prognostic.


First Giuliano speaks of so-called Remedy of the Dead [Lib. I. Cap. XXII], ie the possibility of suffrage for the dead, commenting on the Second Book of Maccabees. Here it shows that the Levites offer prayers for the dead, After some impurities: It is the sacrifice of Atonement a day [Yom ha-Kippurim, day of expiation]. There is already the possibility that the dead improve their condition purgatives. Moreover, It is a consolation for those who remain alive, know to give relief to loved ones. Julian talks about the implementation of the damnation of the damned. [4] For this you can already talk, in this century, Of soul livelihood: In fact, according to Giuliano, the purging souls are purified through the fire. While the souls of the blessed go to Christ in heaven. Here, then, that the soul separated from the body subsists. [5] We certainly derive that the soul has its own activities: effectively, according to the Toledo theologian, the blessed do not see immediately in a total way God: it awaits the resurrection of the body: They will see him more perfectly after. The souls that have the desire to be reunited with their bodies. After Christ's descent into hell, souls go immediately to heaven. [6] While the souls of sinners immediately go to hell [7] and here they remain forever.[8] Now Giuliano may reiterate its position on the soul post mortem. They, recovering Gregorio Magno, He argues that the soul after separation from the body, however, retains its sensitivity and is not dormant. The soul has a resemblance to the dead body: for this reason feels the rest and the torments. [9] Taking up a bit 'one of the loci classics of medieval theology, Giuliano says post mortem there is a purifying fire [cleanser fire]. [10] Already in the work early Christian Shepherd of Hermas [The Shepherd of Hermas] dating from the second century, is exposed theology of Purgatory. So the souls undergo this fire during the intermediate state, that is, before the final judgment. Therefore according to the Toledo theologian, carnal death is already part of the Tribulation that provides for the purifying fire. [11] Now, a point which we will discuss shortly systematically, and already our author introduces: Indeed Giuliano believes that the blessed, if they pray for the salvation of their living loved ones: live the communion of saints. [12] Perhaps the theological research so far carried forward comes at Giuliano to ask questions extremes: for example, if the blessed are rattristino or have joy for loved ones living. [13] Of course it is also comfortable in the certainty that Giuliano, all those who are already blessed - and here is no mention of the Patriarchs and Apostles -, They expect us to reach them and grieve for our mistakes and sins. [14]


All these steps lead us to conclude that there is no eschatology, ecclesiology: the Church is extending the redemptive mission of Christ and the saving, accomplished in the power of the Spirit. For this, the Church is the rally of believers who walks ahead of the final consummation and universal that is the Second Coming or Return of Christ in the end times. So again with Giuliano also we confirm the vertical-transcendent dimension of the Church: the Church is being initiatory and irreversible.


As also wrote Yves Congar: "God is like" bound "to the Church, and the Church is diffuser member of salvation, through the sacraments that spread and actualize the Word of God: both give life to the life of the believer ".




Even the Second Vatican Council It was involved in this eschatological tension of the Church, wanting in our view clear the field by wrong ideas that unfortunately, Sixty-eight and in the wake of the worker priests would still caught later, as if to transform the Church into a merely earthly realities, ever tending to the supernatural good.


The conciliar document The light deals with these issues in chapter VII, entitled precisely "The eschatological character of the Church". The chapter consists of four paragraphs. In issue 48 we remember that, all mankind has an eschatological vocation; the Church finds its fulfillment precisely in the final heavenly glory, and thus he accompanied the man to his perfection. [15] The Church founded by Christ as his apostolic body, to whom he gave his life-giving spirit [16], It is thought to be the "universal sacrament of salvation". This salvation has already begun in Christ, together with the Church we can reach it, through faith, the exercise of charity and virtue of hope that little by little and day by day leads us to eternal life [17]. This is primarily a first certainty: the Church is on the way to a different state than the current one. The Church helps us to hope to move from temporary, from momentary up eternal. Anything that distracts us from the exercise of the cardinal virtues and the sacramental life and therefore that makes us walk towards the Lord must be avoided and taken away: "If your eye causes you to sin, horse: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, that with two eyes to be thrown into hell " [MC 9,47].


But on this journey, we are not alone. In fact paragraph 49 Of The light It describes a profound communion between the pilgrim Church, that is, each of us wanderers on this earth, and the heavenly Church, that is, those who are already dead and are in the phase of purification or bliss [18]. Between us, however, there is a heterogeneous partition: our union, in faith in Christ, it never broke [19], indeed we are even more united in particularly improvement way with the Church to be cleansed. Effectively, today again, during Holy Masses we offer suffrages for the souls of our deceased loved ones [20]; especially when we venerate Mary, the Apostles, Saints Angels, and all the saints of God, they too are united with us in Christ [21]. This really can be comforting: each death and loss of a friend and a dear one is shock which generates a very long and difficult mourning to process on a psychological level. Only with time and the help of grace it may be able to find a deeper meaning to this necessary step. Difficult, if not impossible, therefore,, again, He thinks of the Church as the only earthly militia that does not deal with this guide to the certainty of the presence of deceased loved ones through faith; charity which then operate towards them, every time we offer a suffrage for their, and hope one day to meet again all together, on Sunday without end in the Risen Jesus that shines in our hearts.


So the Eucharist It is that place where you really can be in communion with the dear departed souls and saints, the most important time of all our experience of believers. Every time we partake of the Holy Mass " [in it] the virtue of the Holy Spirit acts upon us through the sacramental signs, in fraternal exultation we sing the praises of the divine Majesty all " [22]. It seems to me the most beautiful and important step, with which to conclude these reflections. Just as we saw in the first paragraph that the final act of union between God and man, deathbed, needs of necessity of the presence of the Church, So also all our moments of perfection and of holiness as it very presence of communion in Jesus Christ. As she is written by his father Sergio Stancati, the final subject of our communion is Jesus Christ himself as ἔσχατος [eskatos]. With eskatos we mean the way in Christ, which it is the subject in which the ultimate purpose of the world and of man has already accomplished, the new absolute of the new creation has already begun [23].



Rome, 2 November 2018

Commemoration of All Souls



Of our brothers, ancient popular song of the deceased for the suffrage of the Souls in Purgatory. Choir of St. Mary of Mercy – Lastra a Signa Florence [text anthem WHO]




[1] U. Galimberti, The word to the young people - Dialogue with the generation of Active Nihilism.

[2] K. Rahner, The Trinity.

[3] H. U. from Balthassar, Teodrammatica The last act.

[4] See Julian of Toledo, Prognostic Forever, The foreshadowing of the world to come, I KNOW, Naples 2012, Introduces., Translate. and theological commentary by T. Get tired, o.p.

[5] In the same place, Lib. (II), Cap. VIII.

[6] Lib. (II), Chapter X.

[7] Lib. (II), Cap. XIII.

[8] Lib. (II), Cap. XIV.

[9] Lib. (II), Cap. XV. Erroneously attributed to Giuliano Cassiano a reflection of Gregory the Great, cf.. Moralia in Job, VIII, xv.

[10] LIb. (II), Cap. Nineteenth.

[11]Lib. (II), Cap. XXI.

[12]Lib. (II), Cap. XXVI.

[13] Lib. (II), Cap. XXVII.

[14] Lib. (II), Cap. XXVIII.

[15] Lg 48, 1.

[16] Lg 48, 2.

[17] Lg 48, 3.

[18] LG 49, 1.

[19] LG 49, 2 – 3.

[20] LG 50, 1.

[21]LG 50, 2.

[22]LG 50,3.

[23] S. Get tired, eschatology death and resurrection, I KNOW.



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12 replies
  1. father ariel
    Alsan11 says:

    Dad, last Sunday I was at Mass in the church of S. Maria alla Minerva and I heard his homily, if I had the courage I would have asked for notes, but I have not had.
    Why do not publish these homilies?

    Alessandra from Rome

    • father ariel
      Alsan11 says:

      Dear Father,
      Perhaps Father Ariel said yesterday, leaving the church of Minerva, I stopped in the rain?
      I would not have imagined to find Father Ariel at her to Minerva for Mass.
      E’ It was really a pleasant knowledge, I read it for years but I had never seen in person.
      Thanks again.

      Alessandra (Rome)

  2. father ariel
    Luciana Bianciardi says:

    Thank you Father and arrived well.
    The Island of Patmos is the quality to which she adds quality.
    Thanks and greetings from his Dominican convent in Siena that for many years I attend, and in fact I wondered … This monk is not “new face”.
    It may be that I have seen in Siena at San Domenico this summer?

    • Redazione de L'Isola di Patmos
      Editor of The Island of Patmos says:

      And, surely have seen the, because among the solemn profession and ordination to the diaconate in the summer he spent a period of time in the Siena Dominican Convent.

  3. father ariel
    Andrea Petitti says:

    Ben arrived Father, thank you for this article of his which in short says all that long unfortunately no longer told us …

    Andrea Petitti (Ivrea)

  4. father ariel
    Marcello Trasciatti says:

    Reverend Father, I was not too old, ho ho 60 year old, and I want to tell her that I was moved by the song of the deceased placed in the end of article.
    About half a century ago, I heard several times that boy singing in the parish of Rome at that time was attending, and I remember when I heard him singing gave me an instinctive sense of peace.
    Then things changed and the songs on the music came from When the Saints go marching in [Ed. WHO] become songs sung in our churches [Ed. WHO].
    I have not heard that song and I remember not even have the words, He brought me nicely back in time, and I thank.

  5. father ariel
    don Pino M. says:

    Father Gabriele, ben arrivato!
    Stay, and go as you started, I will an old priest says “glorious” classe 1946. Thinks, I began first grade six years after the end of the last war, the teachers that told of what we had been lucky to be born after the war. certainly I did not imagine that six decades later I would have found (like many other) before a war possibly much worse, under various aspects. In the last war, the bombs destroyed or severely damaged many European cities, today, other kinds of bombs, the morally they have razed to the ground. Many churches, During that conflict, They were reduced to rubble by bombs, today, They are reduced to rubble by us priests, but even more so by our socio-political scientists bishops.
    I am not disillusioned but not deluded, not pessimistic but even surrealistic. Then, less I came to the theological virtue of hope, me I should do with my confessor, which is a certain Father Ariel S. Levi di Gualdo, that certainly you know, and that often hammering on two elements: “la speranza” e “la libertà dei figli di Dio”.
    This morning I've already printed and given this article to my parish catechists of the group so that we can learn good ideas.
    the “versioni stampabili” Patmos Island are a large beautiful and comfortable found,
    Best wishes and good luck!

    • father ariel
      Don Francesco Messina says:

      Hi Don Pino !

      I too often I spread the printed texts of Patmos Island, whereas I never happened to photocopy and distribute dell'Avvenire pages or Christian Family, at least over the last five years the first aforementioned newspaper, and over the past two decades the second ever weekly aforementioned …

  6. father ariel
    annalof.2010 says:

    Dear Father,

    I follow assiduously The Patmos Island by mid-November 2014, if I remember correctly this site-magazine opened towards the middle of the previous October.
    I do not know how many years you have but I see that is very young.
    I am a former teacher of philosophy, until the 2013 I made the catechist, Then after many years I have given way to those less old (ho ho 78 year old) but above all more merciful to me than … terrorizzavo (He was repeatedly told) Confirmation of the boys talking about their Paradise, Hell and Purgatory, while it seems that today we should speak only of Paradise, therefore a God who does not judge, does not punish, not to each according to its own merits and according to the talents put to work or buried.
    So I take refuge in the altogether more beautiful: prayer.

    They Dominican tertiary from 1981 and I assure you dear Father my prayers to the Virgin Mary in Pompeii.

    I hope this is just the first of a long series of articles, considering she writes and transmits the mysteries of the faith with a precious clear now more than ever.
    Finally I imagine the joy of Father John Cavalcoli, me as an elder, to have a young Dominican brother in this happy island.

    Anna Loffredo

    • father ariel
      Don Ciro says:

      Lady Anna,

      a Dominican who began talking about a Neapolitan boy who asks a question about eternal life and implicitly the judgment of God, promises just fine. Not so much because he speaks of our children Neapolitan, but because it speaks of the last things and eschatology in a clear and precise.
      Unfortunately, today it seems you speak only of “modernissimi” and more mundane “scatology”, or maybe worse “rompiscatologia”.
      The young Dominican confirms my humble theory that our hopes are in their thirties today divided into two categories:
      1) the totally apathetic folded hedonism, narcissism and egocentricity;
      2) the highly motivated on the level of faith, morals and perennial tradition of the Church.
      Of the clerical-generations of the sixties / seventies we just wait for the natural extinction, because they are sunk! And hopefully with their coffins to bury inside the coffins also chitarrine, tambourines, custom missals, the prayers of the faithful spontaneously improvised and all watered down doctrines which do not disturb the modern man and the master of this world under whom modern man seems to have put.
      Write to the editors of the Island of Patmos and ask you're my contacts, because it is not very far from my parish (Vomero area), an assignment as a catechist I do it to him, and yet willingly. Then one day, if anything, Father Gabriele also invite you to talk to our children the catechism.

      Don Ciro

      • father ariel
        Paolo S. says:

        … about spontaneous prayers of the faithful, I just want to offer some pearls.
        in the parish celebration presided over by the diocesan bishop who invites the spontaneous prayer, ignoring the pastor has always avoided all.
        My pastor also avoids using the prayers of the faithful those reported on sheets for listing, because two or three years ago (but that did not seem to have improved today) He said it seemed written by the Boldrini and Bonino.
        Very well … Bishop opens at spontaneous prayer with this result: “… I would like to pray for a couple of guys who decided to live together, one of which suffers a lot because the family does not accept his bond of love with this partner, that the Holy Spirit enlighten his parents, Let's pray”, and the whole assembly said: “Lord hear us!”.
        Open the dam here is the middle-aged woman who puts the load to be ninety: “We pray for all gay couples so that they can live peacefully without social discrimination, let's pray”. and the whole assembly … “Lord hear us!”. He could then miss … “For refugees, so that they are not discriminated against by this racist government, let's pray” …
        Then the parish priest who acted as master of ceremonies at the bishop did waved organist, but he did not understand, then he looked at me with eyes bulging and said in a low voice with another wave of his hand: “vai, vai!”.
        The organist attacked the Offertory chant before the bishop recited the concluding prayer.

        I am the organist.

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