Last Sunday we touched on All Saints Day. Today we reflect on the Feast of All Souls, which we celebrate this Thursday, November 2nd. At Masses that day we will pray for the souls in Purgatory, especially for any of our deceased loved ones and friends.
At the entrance of all our parishes, there are envelopes available which you may use to write the names of those who have died. The envelope can be returned to the parish office or simply placed in the collection basket at Mass. The names of our loved ones will rest on our parish altars throughout the month of November so that we may remember to pray for them, to fast for them and, in particular, to offer Masses for the repose of their souls. We sometimes forget that praying for the dead is one of the seven spiritual works of mercy. Throughout November we have a special opportunity to engage in this act of mercy.
As we reflect upon the mystery of death, our own and that of those who have gone before us, it is also an opportunity to reflect on the vital rituals surrounding it, like funerals and burial. Below is a brief excerpt from an instruction of Pope Francis regarding the importance of Christian Burial.
Because of Christ, Christian death has a positive meaning. The Christian vision of death receives privileged expression in the liturgy of the Church: “Indeed for your faithful, Lord, life is changed not ended, and, when this earthly dwelling turns to dust, an eternal dwelling is made ready for them in heaven”. By death the soul is separated from the body, but in the resurrection God will give incorruptible life to our body, transformed by reunion with our soul. In our own day also, the Church is called to proclaim her faith in the resurrection: “The confidence of Christians is the resurrection of the dead; believing this we live”.
Following the most ancient Christian tradition, the Church insistently recommends that the bodies of the deceased be buried in cemeteries or other sacred places. In memory of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord, the mystery that illumines the Christian meaning of death, burial is above all the most fitting way to express faith and hope in the resurrection of the body.
The Church who, as Mother, has accompanied the Christian during his earthly pilgrimage, offers to the Father, in Christ, the child of her grace, and she commits to the earth, in hope, the seed of the body that will rise in glory.
By burying the bodies of the faithful, the Church confirms her faith in the resurrection of the body, and intends to show the great dignity of the human body as an integral part of the human person whose body forms part of their identity.
Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!