Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed
When I worked in Nigeria I met a young Dominican priest there and he said to me that there were only two types of people, the living and the living dead, the latter being those gone before us marked with the sign of faith. So membership of the Church is not confined to this world.
Agoué cemetery in Benin Republic where early SMA and OLA missionaries and their earliest converts are resting until the day of the Resurrection.
Yesterday we celebrated in the solemnity of All Saints, those now in heaven and today those who have gone from this world and linger on the threshold of eternal happiness.
Purgatory is better seen as a process rather than a place, a process of purification, the last stage of conversion to God. To pray for the dead is to help them complete their lives.
We must remember that Jesus himself was no stranger to the experience of grief and loss, mourning and tears. He wept at the tomb of Lazarus, his friend.
We must be honest when we acknowledge that there is no way around the sorrow, pain of loss, with the anger it brings in its wake, which feels it is never going to end. It seems the only way out of the grief is through it, actively taking up the cross involved in it, knowing Jesus is with us every step of the way.
The Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed is above all an invitation to remember and pray for the dead.
The bonds of love and affection that united them to us in this life does not unravel with death. Our relationship with them is changed, not ended. Our Eucharistic Celebration is the moment par excellence which unites us with all the members of the Body of Christ both in this life and the next.
To remember our loved ones at the Lord’s Table is the greatest gift we can give them. The remembrance of the dead at Mass is God’s way of involving us in the final transfiguration of those we love. Our prayer and love are drawn into God’s healing and saving work.
‘Loving Lord, may eternal light shine upon them and give us a part to play through prayer, in the dawning of that light. Amen.’