Commemoration of All Souls (Jn 6:37-40)

Within the soul of every human being God has instilled the desire for eternal life and happiness. While death claims each of us at the appointed time, God gives us something which death cannot touch–his own divine life and sustaining power.

Bouguereau - The Day of the Dead

Bouguereau – The Day of the Dead

Today we remember and pray for our beloved, but never forgotten, dead. In remembering those who have been close to us in life, we often grieve and feel sorrow for their loss, but our faith consoles and strengthens us because we believe that we will one day meet them again. There is no doubt that grief, like any other emotion, can be overdone. But the truth is that there is a place for realism with regard to death. For Christians that realism includes both grief and a profound hope that tempers grief in time and allows us to move forward. All Souls’ Day is an occasion to address our grief at a distance. And it is an occasion to recover the context of the Gospel that puts grief into its proper perspective.

St. Paul wrote, “For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” If these things, which include death, cannot separate us from God, and if we are all members, one with another, in the Mystical Body of Christ, then we are assured that death cannot separate us from one another. We remain bound together with loved ones in a bond that is deeper than the ties of blood or human love. We are bound together through the shedding of Christ’s blood in a love that transcends any mortal bond. Believing this allows us to grieve without despairing. It assures us that we remain in communion with our loved ones today and promises eternal life with them in the future.

In praying to and honoring the souls of those who have died, we recognize that they have impacted our lives. Their wisdom, gained from a lifetime of struggle and endurance, can be of great value to those of us living today.

We carry within us the living memories of those who have gone before us and when we relive those memories it helps us to understand ourselves better.  These memories live inside of us and their presence in our lives guides us, nourishes us, and sustains us.

I remember, as if it were yesterday, the tremendous, almost overwhelming grief that encompassed me upon hearing that my parents had been killed in an automobile accident nearly 28 years ago. The profound sense of loss created an emptiness in my soul that I felt could never be refilled but through the grace and love of God I discovered a new hope and a renewed passion for life and faith.

When they were alive, I lived far away, and saw them infrequently, perhaps once every two or three years. We spoke on the phone but certainly not as often as we should have. Today, I feel their presence, every minute of every day; I speak with them often and ask for and rely on their wisdom and guidance. The memories I have of them, how they lived their lives, what they taught me, and how they loved me provide me with a closer relationship today than when they were physically on this earth. I cherish their love and knowing that they are in the presence of God sustains me.

I am also nourished and sustained by the souls of many family and friends who have died and whose souls now watch over me. I think of my dear friend Yolanda who died a few years ago. The image of her angelic smiling face, so eager to see God, is firmly etched in my memory, and it makes me smile every time I think of her. I know she is watching and praying for me and that brings me peace and great joy.

So as we commemorate All Souls day, let us ask our departed brothers and sisters to sustain us, guide us, and help us live faithful lives so that we may join them one day in the loving embrace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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