All Souls' Day
The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed
November 2, 2020
Readings: Book of Wisdom 3:1-9; Psalm 231-3a, 3b-4, 5,6; Letter of Saint Paul
to the Romans 5:5-11 (or 6:3-9); John 6:37-40
When I was a pre-teen, my dad would recite this favorite verse many, many times. He had once read on a tombstone, “Remember me as you pass by. As you are now, so once was I. As I am now, one day you’ll be. So stop and say a prayer for me.” This simple verse highlights something that I’ve always believed about All Souls' Day. It’s not simply a call to pray for our deceased loved ones. It is also an awakening to our own mortality.
Our first observation today is to point out that the Church has always taught that it is a good and wonderful thing to pray for the deceased. In addition, we should feel an obligation to do so for our loved ones. We, as Catholics, have great devotion to saints such as Saints Anthony, Jude, and Mother Teresa, just to name a few. But what of our “own” saints, those unofficially canonized saints such as our parents, siblings, and loved ones, who have gone before us? If we believe our faith, that God is everywhere and that our loved ones are with God, then they are everywhere also. They become our very special intercessors with God in the communion of saints.
Personally, I have found it most comforting that the loses of my family and friends become less painful when I keep the relationship alive through daily prayerful communication. I pray to them by sharing my life and asking them for blessings for myself and others. I also thank them for the “miracles” I have received. By doing this, I feel that those relationships will continue in the next life.
Our second observation is an awakening to our own mortality. I have found that communication with those who have gone before me makes the thought of death less fearful. In fact, psychologists tell us that the fear of dying is a normal human fear. Here is an example of what I mean:
This is a true story of two Catholic priests who were arrested and incarcerated in a country that had banned religion. During their several years of imprisonment, they experienced painful torture and privation. Their most painful suffering occurred when on a given evening each was told, “This is your last meal. Tomorrow you die!” On the following morning, they were taken before a firing squad, blindfolded, and listened to the commands of, “Ready, aim, fire!” After hearing the shots, they were stunned to find out that they were still alive. The soldiers had been ordered to shoot above the heads of the two priests. This act of psychological torture occurred fifteen times over a ten month period. When they were finally freed, they were asked to share their stories. They both claimed that they were comforted by the story of “Sister Death”, as Saint Francis of Assisi called her, and lost their fear of dying. Even more inspiring was the priests' willingness to forgive their captors, and their ability to live joyfully in the present moment. Both of these holy men were fully alive by living where God dwells—in the NOW of their lives.
Friend, no one knows what the afterlife will be like. However, I do know that our Lord Jesus comforts us in the Gospel of Saint John (14:1-6) by telling us to not let our hearts be troubled, and that He is going to prepare a place for us so that where He is, we also may be. Our Lord Jesus does this for me, for you, and for all who have gone before us. May all who have gone before the throne of God be blessed, now and forever!
Question of the Day: Will you pray daily for the souls of your family and friends as well as the souls in purgatory?
Prayer: May the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.