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Dear Father Angelo,

I would like to know the meaning of this passage from a preface: “It is truly right to bless and thank you, Holy Father, source of truth and life, because on this feast day you have summoned us into your house. Today, united in hearing the Word, and made one in this broken bread, your family recalls the risen Lord, in anticipation of the endless Sunday when all humanity will enter your rest. At that time, we will see your face and will praise your mercy forever.

In blessed hope, with the company of Angels and Saints, as with one voice of praise we sing the hymn of your glory” (Preface X – Sundays in Ordinary Time [tr. from the Italian ed.]).

At catechism (as a child, about fifteen years ago), I was always told that one can end up in purgatory, hell or heaven.

As I read this passage from the missal, I almost see that at last the Church thinks about salvation for all. Is that right or is this case more complex? If so, who would populate Hell?

Thanks for your attention and for your blog


The answer of the Priest

Dear Matteo,

1. What you reported implies: “when all humanity (of the saved) will enter your rest“.

In the light of the Lord’s teaching, the Church well knows that unfortunately not everyone will be saved because some will be told: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Mt 25:34) and to others: “Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mt 25:41).

2. As reported, that preface is preferably orated on Sunday, especially when “the Lord’s family gathers”.

Of course, We know that the “Lord’s family” cannot include everyone because some voluntarily decide not to participate.

But during the Mass, they still constitute “the family of the Lord” even if they are not all.

The meeting of believers, who “scattered to the four winds” (as ancient Eucharistic liturgies say), makes the Church visible and they can say “we are the Church”, “we are the Lord’s family”.

Now, while “recalling the risen Lord”, they await the meeting of the largest family of all believers, of every age and from every place, and that will happen when everyone will have definitely entered Heaven.

3. Therefore, that Preface should be not literally interpreted as it contains a rhetorical figure; precisely, that rhetorical figure corresponds to a synècdoche.

The Greek word synècdoche means to put together or even to receive together; a part indicates the whole, like saying that a parish has three thousand souls. Here soul means a person, a compound of soul and body, which is more than the soul only.

4. Synècdoche can also mean the opposite, that is the whole for the part, like saying of a person who went to America, meaning the United States that is a particular nation of that continent.

So, the same happens in the Preface, where the expression “when all humanity” means all people of the saved ones.

5. So, what you learned as a child remains true, and the other questions lose their meaning.

However, your sentence “I almost see that at last the Church thinks about salvation for all” has to be specified.

Sure, the Church hopes for everybody’s salvation and works for everybody’s salvation.

But in the light of the Lord’s words, the Church knows that unfortunately not everyone will be saved. In fact, Jesus said: “the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many” (Mt 7:13).

I bless you, hoping you too will be among that all humanity who will enter the Lord’s rest, able to contemplate His face forever.

Father Angelo