Growing up I remember always having a large garden. We joked that my Mom planted on an empty stomach. We spent hours hoeing and weeding the garden. A few cucumbers and beans were the meager fruits of our labors. Then it was like the garden had exploded. Zucchini, squash, corn, tomatoes… it was hard to keep up with all the produce. We ate what we could and froze or canned the rest. Despite Mom’s efforts with cages and beds, the tomato plants became a jungle. Many of the tomatoes were spoiled by bugs or rot and had to be thrown on the compost pile. But the good fruits came home in laundry baskets. Everyone pitched in as the kitchen became a red-splotched processing center. Many years we canned over 100 quarts of tomato sauce. At the time the work bothered me but now I miss it. I don’t feel ready for Fall without putting away garden produce for the winter. I know farmers feel the same way with corn still standing in the fields.
There is also a harvest time for souls. Jesus sees the world like fields. We are called to cultivate souls, and to ask the master of the harvest to supply enough laborers. The angels will be coming through to harvest the crop of souls. The good will be stored in barns and the bad will be burned with “unquenchable fire.” Are you helping to cultivate a harvest of souls? Are you yourself bearing fruit for the kingdom?
Catholics believe that some “processing” happens after death. As long as a soul isn’t completely rotten, it can be purified in Purgatory. I suppose it’s like cutting the bad parts off a tomato and saving the good. In fact, the Church has dedicated the month of November to praying for souls. On November 1st we celebrate All Saints Day, a holy day of obligation. We remember in particular all the saints in heaven who don’t have a feast day but are still examples of faith and intercessors on our behalf. November 2nd is All Souls Day for those still in Purgatory. During the first 8 days of November, you can receive a plenary indulgence for these souls by visiting a cemetery and praying for them. I encourage you to put together a little display of your own deceased relatives and friends. Gather some pictures on a table in the home. Light a candle for them and gather as a family to remember and pray for them. Know that they are praying for you too. Because your own harvest isn’t as far off as you might think.