Friday, November 2, 2007
All Souls' Day
This is the day to commemorate all the souls who have died and may not yet be united to God. I think the feast goes back to the idea of souls waiting purification in Purgatory, but it is always good to pray for the dead since we really are not sure about death and judgment; we think in terms of time and there is no time with God.
People go to the cemetery to show love and respect for family members who have died. Some countries decorate the graves. Actually, the great monastery of Cluny in France in the 10th century established the tradition of "Keeping with joyous affection, the memory of all the faithful departed who have lived from the beginning of the world until the end."
The Liturgy for today is very consoling. The first reading from Wisdom says that "the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them."
"The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want." This is one of my favorite psalms and the liturgy gives a choice for the response. Either "The Lord is my shepherd" or "Though I walk in the valley of darkness, I fear no evil, for you are with me."
The second reading from Romans tells us that "God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us."
The Gospel of John has Jesus saying, "I will not reject anyone who comes to me...For this is the will of the Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day."
Last month, when in St. Louis, my sister and I went with a cousin to visit family graves. My cousin sent me a CD for he took pictures of all the family tombstones; the dates of birth and death are on almost all the tombstones. It is a bit of family history stored on a CD instead of a family Bible!
November is the month to pray for the dead, not just on All Souls' Day!