November 2, 2015
by Kathy Martin
Creighton University's Campus Ministry Department
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The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed
(All Souls)
Lectionary: 668

Wisdom 3:1-9
23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6
Romans 5:5-11
John 6:37-40
Praying Ordinary Time

In Mexican tradition there is a saying that people die three deaths.  We experience the first death when our physical bodies die, the second death occurs when our bodies are lowered into the earth out of sight.  The third death occurs years later when there is no one left on earth who remembers us. In Catholic tradition, there is no third death. The faithful dead, as members of the body of Christ, are seen as members of the communion of saints.  Therefore, the living and deceased  are yet alive in Christ.  Power comes from the prayers of this communion of saints which we celebrate annually on November 2nd, the feast of All Souls Day.

Many of you reading this reflection will be aware that the Creighton community will commemorate All Souls Day with an especially heavy heart this year due to the recent tragedy that struck our community. Four young women from Creighton were killed in a car accident on Saturday October 24th.   Yoselin Deleon, Jennifer Guzman, and Akuel Majouk were current juniors at the Heider College of Business and Marina Ramirez who was not currently enrolled but scheduled to return to classes at Creighton in the spring semester.  They were all killed when traveling together to visit a friend at a different college when they swerved to miss a deer on the road and hit an oncoming vehicle.

As a member of the campus ministry staff and as part of the Creighton community I have attended  several of the funerals for these students.  I have been overcome with emotion at the loss of such vivacious and inspiriting young women while comprehending the gaping hole that is left in the lives of their family and friends.

When I was just 23 years old, my own father died.  It has been almost 25 years ago now and I really relate to the Mexican saying about the three deaths.  My dad died of terminal cancer and I was not present the moment he died but I vividly remember the call telling me that he was gone. I can only imagine what the families must have experienced when the police chaplains called or knocked on their doors informing them of their daughter's death.

I fully experienced and will never forget the intense pain of that "second" death for my dad- seeing the casket lowered into the ground on a cool windy autumn day.  It brings tears to my eye just picturing it in mind now as I write this reflection.  I am keenly aware that both Jennifer's and Mariana's bodies were placed in their graves on Thursday.  Yoselin's body was placed Wednesday and Akuel's body was laid to rest on Saturday. 

And the "third" death.  Almost twenty-five years later, so few people in our tight-knit community remember my dad.  Hard to believe.  Just last month I met a professional colleague of my dad's and who remembered my dad with fond memories.  I can hardly describe how powerful it is for me when I meet someone who still remembers my dad these days.  As the years go on it happens less and less. 

How long will people remember these four young women?  They had so much less time than my dad to make their mark on the world.  Yet they did!  Each of these four women was incredible in her own right and will not quickly be forgotten.  But join with me- won't you?  Let's remember our dead; this communion of saints.  Let us remember the; young and old, recently deceased and those long-ago forgotten, members of our families and close friends, as well as people we have never met. 

Perhaps you have also recently lost a dear one in your life. Along with the families of our dear young women ,let us hold one another up in prayer on this feast day of All Souls.  Let us take comfort that our deceased loved ones are praying for us as well.  We stand connected in our faith in Jesus and with the communion of saints. In this way, we do not experience the third death.  

Let us together have hope and faith in the words of Jesus from today's Gospel, "that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him up on the last day."  (John 6:40).

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