The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls)
This day of commemoration of all the faithful departed, with its prayers and readings taken from the Masses for the Dead, evokes many of the same thoughts and feelings that we experience at a funeral. There is a sadness, a sense of loss, and a reminder of the reality of death and our own mortality. Mixed with those feelings is our hope and trust in the mercy of God—that the “souls of the departed are in the hand of God” and Jesus’ comforting words: “I will not reject anyone who comes to me.”
At any funeral, in the midst of our grief, we usually recount many stories of the departed in order to bring us comfort at our time of loss. The beautiful and touching stories remind us of their good deeds and how we will miss the departed. However, the great act of mercy is not found in the stories, but in our prayer for them. Praying for the dead is counted among the spiritual works of mercy. Our prayer is one of the most powerful ways we can support others, especially those who have died. The Church teaches that all who die in God’s grace and friendship but are still imperfectly purified, undergo purification in order to prepare them for holiness and enter the joys of heaven. We support both the living and the dead when we acknowledge this reality, the need for conversion, and respond generously in prayer.
We acknowledge that we need the same purification in our life as well. Just as you acknowledge your need for God and depend on grace to purify you, the faithful departed rely on your prayers works of penance to assist with their purification that they may attain the beatific vision of God.
Reflection Question: What struggles in my life is God inviting me to bring to Him? Which of my departed love ones do I need to bring to God in prayer and intercede on their behalf?
Reflection by Fr. Paul Sheller, OSB