All Souls

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On November 2 the Church celebrates the Feast of All Souls and the month of November is named as the month of Holy Souls.

In this month we take pause to remember those who have died. We pray for those whom we have loved in life on earth. We pray for those who have loved us. We also remember those who have no one to remember them.

It is traditional to take time in November to visit the graves of our loved ones. The image above is of my parents’ grave, and the green cross rested on my father’s coffin during his Funeral Mass.

Pope Benedict reflected beautifully on the practice of visiting cemeteries in the month of November a few years ago:

“…the Church invites us to commemorate all the faithful departed, to turn our eyes to the many faces who have gone before us and who have ended their earthly journey…during these days we go to the cemetery to pray for the loved ones who have left us, as it were paying a visit to show them, once more, our love, to feel them still close, remembering also, and article of the creed: in the communion of saints there is a close bond between us who are still walking here upon the earth and those many brothers and sisters who have already entered eternity.

“Human beings have always cared for their dead and sought to give them a sort of second life through attention, care and affection, In a way, we want to preserve their experience of life; and paradoxically by looking at their graves, before which countless memories return, we discover how they lived, what they loved, what they feared, what they hoped for and what they hated, They are almost a mirror of their world.”  Pope Benedict XVI. All Souls Day 2011

This is also a good opportunity to teach children about our Christian confidence in death as the transition to the fulness of life. Children learn most easily with experience. To take your children to the graves of friends and family is a sure and certain way to overcome their secular Halloween fears about a cemetery as a spooky place by teaching them about the cemetery as a place of Christian hope.

You might teach your children this simple and traditional prayer:

Eternal Rest grant to them/him/her O Lord
and let perpetual light shine upon them/him/her
May they/he/she rest in peace.
Amen

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