Yesterday I wrote about saints as my Church celebrated all those designated by that title because of recognition of their holy lives. My suggestion was the same as St. Paul’s: that there have been throughout history and are now many more people who deserve the title than those who are listed on our liturgical calendar. It has always been a comfort to me that we follow yesterday with today’s feast of “All Souls,” celebrating (although not always without sadness) and praying for those of our loved ones and all others who have died. There will be services in Christian communities throughout the world today, often in the evening, where names of the deceased will be read and candles will be lit in remembrance. The light generated by the candles reminds us that the light of the person named is still with us and all of the lights taken together brighten the universe in what we call the “communion of saints.”
Later today I will make final preparations to travel tomorrow to Atlanta, Georgia to join my relatives gathered from near and far to release my cousin, Paul, totally into God’s light. This is a hard letting go – too much of a surprise and too soon for us – but our being together and the love shared among us will be our strength. I have assisted at innumerable funeral services in my life and have heard the first reading from today’s liturgy probably more than any other. Somehow, though, today it has touched me more gently and kindly than ever before. Perhaps Paul has opened a new cell in my heart for this news. Whatever the reason, I offer it today as a way to pray for our “dearly departed” who are alive now in God as never before.
The souls of the just are in the hand of God and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace…(WIS 3: 1-3)