Remembering Our Loved Ones
While we are still a few weeks away from the Feasts of All Saints and All Souls, it can be a time to reflect and be grateful for the blessings of loved ones, family members and friends who have shared life with us but are now sharing in the life of God in His Kingdom. As I share with you some reflections this week, I would first like to thank all the members of our bereavement committee who do such a wonderful job with our families who have lost a loved one throughout the year. On the Feast of All Saints, we will have a special Mass of Thanksgiving for all who have died this past year. When we speak of the Feast of All Saints, there are many thoughts of joy and thanks we can have as we begin to reflect.
Who are these saints that we celebrate? They are those men and women in our lives who have gone before the Kingdom of God and are truly saints. Men and women who are not on the official list of saints declared publicly by the church, yet are truly saints in heaven. All of us in the course of our lives have been touched by people who we truly feel are saints. They have many faces- moms, dads, friends, co-workers, people who have truly served the church and others. All of them will have in common a spirit of selflessness, generosity, and holiness. With Vatican II, the church has extended the invitation for all of us to become saints in that the church invites all of us to holiness independent of our vocations.
The Feast of All Souls is celebrated the day after All Saints and can also be a special time for us to remember loved ones in the light of the resurrection. Contrary to what the church teaches, our secular culture encourages you and I to fear death, or worse, to ignore it. So when death comes, many will act in anger, insulted and surprised, carrying on as if it didn’t happen. Our society makes up all kinds of theories about how to handle our feelings in an attempt to put the experience behind us and ignore it until the next time it happens. It is probably true to say that in our American culture, secular customs are aimed at coming to terms with the funeral, not the death. The things that Christ taught by word and example seem to fly from our view when death occurs. That is why secular funeral customs and sections from popular psychology tend to ring hollow for many people, and that is why these bereavement theories comes and go like current best-sellers.
The church view set forth for us in the Order of Christian Funerals, which has many options to offer the family and loved ones of the deceased, looks upon the body as a temple of God’s Holy Spirit, a body that will rise again to everlasting life and must be treated as such. It further reminds us in the liturgy that in death life is changed but not ended. We also need to be reminded in the words of Jesus, “I am the resurrection and the life; who ever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” John 11
All Souls Day is not a day to feel sorry for ourselves, but rather, a time to celebrate that great gift of our loved ones now sharing in the fullness of life with a loving and faithful God. I pray that God will nourish you with his love as you remember your loved ones until we meet again. May God bless each of you.
Fr. Mike Moroney