Study: Recall close family and friends who have died. Reflect on how they blessed your life.
Pray: Remember those who are grieving the loss of loved ones in your prayers.
Serve: Is there an act of kindness you can to for someone grieving? How can your support help them face the reality of death and the hope of the resurrection?
I would like to explain how we get this feast on the weekend. Normally, the feast of All Saints is a Holy Day of Obligation in the Church. However, when a Holy Day falls on a Saturday or a Monday it is “suppressed” so that the Sunday mass does not lose its importance. And when a feast (like All Souls) actually falls on a Sunday – then that is often the feast whose prayers and readings are used.
This is why I went to seminary for a decade….!
There are a number of possible readings to choose from for this feast. They should sound familiar; indeed, for anyone who frequently attends funerals they will echo with past memories.
The Feast of All Souls is a celebration where the whole Church remembers all who have died. On this day we offer prayers, hear readings, and recall the memories of our beloved dead.
Yet the way we do this is in the example and image of Jesus Christ. Think of Holy Week: we celebrate Good Friday (the day He died) and Easter Sunday (the day He rose).
During those days we recall the suffering and pain of Jesus in His last hours on earth. We recite the passion, process the Cross, and dwell upon His sorrow and anguish. Yet it also means that we celebrate with joy His resurrection from the tomb. We fill the church with flowers, sing alleluias, and rejoice that His death led to new life.
What’s true for Jesus is true for us. When we remember our beloved dead we must remember both our grief (because of death) and our hope (because of eternal life). As we offer our prayers this weekend, we then not only admit our sorrow at the loss of a loved one, but we cling to our belief that we will one day be together with the Lord in Heaven.
Therefore, to be genuine people of faith we both acknowledge the pain of death and affirm the hope of eternity. In this way we do not overly focus on one or the other, but recognize that both are a part of our lives as disciples of Christ here on Earth.
On this feast we remember our beloved dead. We hold fast in faith that their passing is not the end, but the beginning of a new life with Christ in Heaven. In this feast we are thus also reminded that we, too, will one day make this journey. May we trust that as others have traveled from death to life, we will follow in the Lord’s path as well.