This past year we attended quite a few funerals, more than I can ever remember. I suppose in part it is due to my “getting on in years” as I am now in my late 50’s, in part though, it was because some very dear ones died way too soon.
I am especially missing some very dear soul sisters in Christ who were real heroes with unshakeable courage and a deep love of our Lord.
But why am I talking of such sadness?
Call me crazy but I think it is not sad talk. As a Catholic I have come to understand suffering and death in its proper perspective.
Remembering that I belong to a very huge family of God comforts, heals and has sanctified my life. I pray every day for those souls and their families. I ask them to intercede for my family and I have hope that perhaps some day we may all be united in the Beatific Vision.
November is the month dedicated to the Holy Souls in Purgatory, where we are asked by Holy Mother Church to remember all those who have died. We are asked to remember those poor souls in prayer in hope that they will rejoice in the glory of God. We rejoice with the saints who the Church tells us have arrived at His heavenly kingdom and bask in His Glory. In fact the month is ushered in with All Saints Day, which we just celebrated yesterday.
After watching the movie Love is a Choice, the story of St. Gianna Molla, with my family, we were all moved deeply by the testimony of her husband, Pietro, who told the story of their son, only five at the time, who had seen his father crying several days after his wife’s funeral. He asked his father why he was crying. Pietro told his son that he missed his wife so very much. His son’s answer to this was simple and beautiful, “But Papa she is in heaven now.”
A beloved pastor of ours had once told us in an All Souls Mass homily, that his mom would call him about this time every year. It was to remind him to add the names of family members who died over the past year onto “the list.”
You see he keeps a list of everyone (and I mean everyone) in his family who has ever died since he was born! He keeps this list as a reminder to pray for them and remember them. This practice is much like our ancestors practice of lighting blessed candles on the Feast of All Souls, one for each family member who died that year.
The candles and Father’s “list” are visible signs that there is hope, peace, an eternal reward and that we are called to remember and pray.
Several years ago, at the Mass for All Souls, Larry and I were asked to each hold a small wooden cross with the name of a parishioner who had died that year. They asked us because no family member was present at that Mass to remember them. As we carried each cross to the altar, taking our our turns as each name was called, we were most grateful and honored by this small gesture of remembrance.
It really hit home that Larry and I are members of a much bigger family than those who reside in our own home. We are members of the family of God. We belong to Christ Jesus, who laid down his innocent life so that we can have the hope in an eternity with God.
That’s really something to rejoice in.
A blessed All Souls’s Day….there is family waiting for your prayers!
“If we knew what may be obtained from God by the intercession of the Poor Souls, they would not be so much abandoned. Let us pray a great deal for them; they will pray for us.” –St. John Vianney