Reflection for the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed
Eternal rest grant unto them, o Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. ~ Entrance Antiphon for All Souls’ Day
One day you will die. Remembering our mortality is not only a good “reality check” and a sober self-examination, but it is an opportunity to recall with the English priest and poet John Donne (†1631) that “No man is an island…Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” The bonds of love that are forged in this life are not undone by death (Sg 8:6); “Indeed for your faithful, Lord, life is changed not ended.” (Mass for the Dead) One of the ways in which our solidarity with the dead is expressed is by praying for the souls in Purgatory during the month of November, especially by making a visit to a cemetery. In fact, this year the Holy See has extended the opportunity to obtain a plenary indulgence for the dead, which is normally restricted to the first week of November, to the entire month of November. Visiting cemeteries is a very beautiful, a very Catholic, a very compassionate exercise for us. It is a reminder of our own mortality, a reminder to repent of our sins and to use the time we have on earth wisely. It is an opportunity to pray for our family members and friends who have gone before us, and recall that though the pain of death remains, communion and eternal life are our hope. Finally it is an act of charity, a spiritual work of mercy, to pray for the dead, to assist them with our prayers as they are purified and prepared for the Beatific Vision and eternal life with all the Saints in glory.
Fr. Richard Hinkley