Sunday, 1 November 2015


On the 1st November we celebrate All Saints Day. We honour and praised God for enabling so many people from every walk of life to share His eternal life and happiness. We honoured and drew inspiration from those men, women and children who had responded so generously to Christ’s call to follow Him. We realised that they included the countless number of good people, who have responded to God’s grace, but whom the Church has not officially recognised. All these holy people have completed their life-long journey to the kingdom of heaven.

On 2nd November we commemorate All Souls Day. Our thoughts and prayers turn to all those good people who have already died but have not yet completed their journey to heaven. Although their eternal salvation is assured they still need God’s love to purify them of every remaining trace of sin. Only then will they be fit to enter God’s presence and see him face to face. Although this purifying is painful it is full of the hope of sharing God’s eternal life and happiness. So, although this feast is about the dead, it is not morbid.

All Soul’s Day is a family feast for the whole Church. We remember all who have gone before us, our brothers and sisters in Christ who have already died. Some of them we knew; most of them we didn’t. Today we don’t just reminisce about them, though it’s important for us to recall all they meant to us, and to thank God for all the grace he gave them throughout their lives. As we think about their deaths to day’s feast is a deep expression of our faith in the resurrection. We don’t just recall the past; we look to the future. We believe that death doesn’t write the final chapter of our life-stories. The best is yet to come after we die. Then we believe that our crucified and risen Lord will enable us to share in the glory of His resurrection. Then we will enjoy the fullness of life. We should look forward to that, long for that day.
When some one dear to us dies we usually have a sense of empty helplessness, a deep sense of loss. There are so many untidy loose ends, things we didn’t get round to saying or doing. Regrets about failing to express our love. We wish we’d healed the wounds of painful disagreements –that we’d apologised when we’d hurt someone; we wish we’d forgiven those who had harmed us. Today’s feast, as does every Requiem Mass, proclaims that’s it’s not too late to put things right. As we appeal to God’s mercy our prayers can help the dead on the final stage of their journey to the kingdom of heaven. This is a duty in love we owe, not only to those we knew and love, but also to all our deceased brothers and sisters throughout the world. We are united with the whole Church in supporting them in their need. It’s a great comfort to know that our prayers can be of practical assistance in helping the dead to reach eternal happiness with God in heaven.
Strange to say, I’ve found death enables my love for those who were close to me to develop and mature. While they were still alive, here on earth, my attention concentrated on their temporal well-being –their happiness, health, their families and employment. I delighted in their company, and enjoyed sharing a laugh and a drink with them. Their death brought an abrupt end to such interests and concerns. Now my love for them can no longer be focused on their temporal well-being. Now my love for them is concentrated on their eternal happiness with God in heaven. Instead of looking forward to occasionally spending time together I now long for the moment when we will be eternally united with God in the Communion of Saints. Then, together we will all enjoy the fullness of life as we share in the glory of the risen Lord. Then every tear will be wiped away. These reflections bring a peace and serenity as I grieve for those I still love and deeply miss.
And it’s very consoling to know that when we come to die the whole Church –millions of people –will be supporting us in our need. So, while All Souls Day may at first seem to be mournfully concerned with death, it is in fact full of hope in the fullness of life, in our sharing in the glory of Christ’s resurrection.
Isidore O.P.

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