Today is day three of our FFF three-day retreat in daily life.
On Monday we sought Jesus present and active in every unexpected and even unwelcome encounter.
Yesterday, the Feast of All Saints, we remembered that all people who have ever lived, all who will live, and all living today are our sisters and brothers. Pope Francis reminded us in his Laudato Si letter, and in the beautiful movie, that in many encounters with people and places the veil between heaven and earth is gossamer thin.
Today, November 2 we celebrate the Feast of All Souls and this month of November is named as the month of Holy Souls.
In this month we make time 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.
I am thinking of a couple of people in particular as I mark this feast, one a friend and one a family member, both are now in God’s kind keeping until the day of resurrection, and I miss 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 remember 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 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.
During this November month of the Holy Souls you might like to use the PRAYER REQUESTS page at this link to list the names of those who have died that we might together pray for them and for those they loved in life on earth. Take a moment now to add their initials and know that Food For Faith readers are praying for them especially throughout this month.
I’ve never thought about the cemetery as a place of Christian hope. It always seems to be a place for remembering and often tinged with sadness so thanks for that insight.
Nor have I Catherine. Thanks for mentioning “Christian Hope”
The green Cross looks beautiful!
Thank you for the message, Father John!
So easy to forget about them in the rigours of every day life.
I think ill take chair to the cemetery and sit with them a while as I pray.
Well said! And great idea too.
Beautiful reflection Fr. John. Thanks
Eternal rest grant to all whose genes I carry, those who have been part of my life, my growing up through childhood, my growing in Faith and to all who have challenged me and made me think again. May you rest in the peace of the Lord .
I thank the Lord for leading me to your YouTube channel and to this website. Thank you too. You are a blessing to this turbulent world.