Last Wednesday, November 2nd the church marked the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, better known as All Souls. On Tuesday, November 1st we celebrated the Feast of All Saints. Besides remembering our call to be saints, to be holy before God and others, we remember our faithful departed. It is a long standing tradition in the church to remember those who have gone before us, not that they need our prayers for truly they are in God’s hands, experiencing the fullness of life. But, we need to remember them, remember their virtues, remember the way they lived their Christian lives and give us an example of how we can live our lives today.
As I have said and written before, I know some things about the living, about the people who are part of this parish from our casual conversations either on Sunday morning or conversations that occur in relation to sacrament or life events. It isn’t until someone dies that family members share their memories of their loved one and tell stories about their family member, their mother, father, brother or sister, son or daughter that I get a better, fuller understanding of who that person is. More often than not, they are remarkable stories whether hearing about the challenges he/she overcame in their youth, the different places they have lived, or where they have served their families, community and church. Lives are like hidden treasures, we only see or know a small part, the visible part above the surface, and there is so much more good hidden away, not deliberately hidden, just not revealed until someone else tells the story. Few people go around telling others their whole life story.
Each year we collect the names of your beloved dead, your family members, relatives or friends that you wish to remember in prayer. I wish there was a way to capture some of the faith stories of these wonderful people, the people you/we will remember gratefully in our prayers, fondly remembering the relationships you had and have with them, now special memories that you keep close in your minds and hearts.
I have a litany of family members that come to mind each year, my grandparents, aunts and uncles, a few cousins and some of their spouses who have gone to God, and my mother who died eleven years ago. It is always bittersweet, fondly remembering the time we shared together, the precious memories and also knowing in faith the joy they experience to be with God, sharing fully in God’s love, sharing in the fullness of life that give us some clues of what God’s reign will be like.
As we honor the saints who responded well to God’s love, to our family members and others who were saints on the way, we celebrate the Feasts of All Saints and All Souls.
Together we pray that we may have peace and personal consolation until the day we share in eternal life with them, to be fully part of the communion of saints.
Blessings, Father Larry Hendel