Yesterday we celebrated “All Saints” day, a solemnity in our liturgy to remember and honor all those who have gone before us and are now in heaven.
Today we celebrate “All Souls” day, again to remember and honor those who have died. As we commemorate this day, it seems much like our Memorial Day civic holiday – without the veteran aspect of the holiday.
What is the difference between our celebrations? On All Saints Day we pray to those we believe are in heaven to intercede for us. And on occasion this includes someone we know and who has been a strong part of our life. But on All Souls day we pray for our loved ones who have died and ask the Lord to admit them to their eternal reward.
Our readings encourage us to open up our minds and hearts to the mystery of God’s love for us. We very easily can focus our attention on what we are missing as we remember our family and friends who have died. And this very human emotion is strong and is good and is part of our human nature which God has created.
But God also has called us to trust in His promises of salvation and an eternal reward. The text from the Book of Wisdom states that our “hope is full if immortality”; we are “chastised a little”, but “shall be greatly blessed.”
The psalm is the very familiar “The Lord is My Shepherd” which emphasizes again that “even though I walk in a dark valley, I fear no evil”, for God is with me.
Paul’s Letter to the Romans reminds us that we all are baptized into Jesus’ death but just as He rose from the dead, so “we shall also be united with Him in the resurrection.”
Our true faith is Jesus is to trust His promises to us and all our family and friends. This promise is that “Jesus will not reject anyone who comes to Him” and will not reject anyone who comes after Him.”
So on the Solemnity of All Souls Day, while we truly miss and mourn our family and friends, we also praise and thank God for his promises of salvation extended to them.
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