November is upon us again. On November 1st we will celebrate the solemnity of All Saints, a holy day of obligation for all Catholics. We venerate and give God thanks for the great lives of all the saints of the Church who, after their lives of faith service to Christ, now enjoy the beatific vision in heaven. On November 2nd we will pray for all the faithful departed (All Souls). We will offer the sacrifice of the Mass for all those we have known and loved who have died, entrusting them to the mercy of God, imploring Him to forgive them their sins and grant them rest in the glory of His Kingdom of light and peace. It is a great act of love and mercy bringing all those we have loved, and those who have nobody to pray for them, to God in prayer, imploring His mercy for the greatest gift we can wish for anyone – the glory of heaven.
November can be a sad month when memories flood back as we remember those we have loved and lost in death. Somehow there is always a gap in our lives after a death of a loved one. We feel their loss, their absence in our lives and even though with the years the sense of grief becomes less, their memory never fades. But St Paul reminds us that even in loss and grief the Christian is a person of profound hope. “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died .For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (1 Thess 4:13-18)
I also think of the beautiful words of Patrick Kavanagh in his poem remembering his own mother who died:
“O you are not lying in the wet clay
For it is a harvest evening now and we
Are piling up the ricks against the moonlight
And you smile up at us – eternally.”
The Christian is always a person of hope in the power of Christ’s victory over death.
The teaching of the Church as explained in our Catechism reminds us: “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven…the Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect….From the beginning the Church has honoured the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God. The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead: Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.” (CCC 1030-1032)
So even though death has put our loved ones out of sight, we still remain in relationship with them. We can still perform great acts of love and mercy for them. Our November envelops can be found at the back of our Friary church. Please place the names of your beloved dead on the list and place the envelops in the post box of the Friary. All those listed will be prayed for at every Mass in our church throughout this month of November.
Eternal rest grant unto them o God and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen