All Soul’s Day
Solidarity - Week 2
November 2, 2014
Last week, I finished up a homily series entitled: “Trust In God-no matter what.” If you missed any of the homilies in this series, they are posted on the parish website www.princeofpeace.me
. The final homily of the series focused on the story of a young Jewish woman named Edith Stein who converted to Christ through the writings of St. Teresa of Avila. I’d like to use a quote from St. Teresa to transition to another homily series: “Trust God that you will be exactly where you are meant to be.”
Friends, God has you right where you need to be. Right here. Right now. He has a plan, and that plan involves Solidarity- fellowship with other believers here on Earth, the saints in heaven, and the faithful departed who are on their way to heaven. In fact Solidarity is the theme for the next series of homilies.
St. Teresa reminds us that when we pray the words of the Our Father-“thy kingdom come, thy will be done,” that we should remember that a king does not arrive alone. He brings his knights, ladies, and court with him. Likewise, when God comes, He will bring his heavenly court with him.
Yesterday was the feast of All Saints. That reminds us that we are in solidarity with the Saints-those on earth, and those in heaven. They pray for us. Today is the Commemoration of All Souls. On this day, we are reminded of the fact that we are also in fellowship, or, solidarity, with those who are not yet experiencing the full fire of God’s love in heaven, and, we pray for them.
Why do we pray for the deceased? Why do we have a special day to commemorate the All Souls? Why do we dedicate the entire month of November to praying for the dead? Why do we have funeral Masses? After all, aren’t these people dead? Why do they need our prayers?
First, as Christians, we believe that when someone dies an earthly death that they are not totally “dead”. We believe that they are still alive in Christ.
Second, we believe in prayer. Just as our prayer for those who are physically alive on earth can benefit those persons themselves, our prayer for those still alive in Christ can help bring them to the fullness of God’s love in heaven.
Third, we believe in love-the love that flows from God and remains forever. We all pray for those on earth whom we love, and earthly death doesn’t change our love for them. We still love those who have gone to God, and we should express that love by praying for them.
Remember, God hears our prayers, and sees the love motivated by those who have died. Some of our loved ones who have died are now fully united with God in heaven. Some may be Saints canonized by the Church, some may be babies or little children. Some may be older children, young people, or adults who died with such pure hearts that they were ready to endure the full fire of God’s love.
Some of our loved ones, however, are not quite ready to enter God’s presence. The results of their sins are still affecting them. They may have been very good people, but they were still people. Think of it this way. If one breaks his or her arm, the break can be healed. When the weather changes, though, the effect of that break is felt. The same can be said of sin. Even though the deceased may have been forgiven, the results of those sins still affect them. That’s why we pray for them. When we pray for our dead, God sees the love that the deceased person has inspired in us, and that prayer stirs up His love, and leads Him to heal that sin, or-to use Church language-to free them from purgatory. Remember that the souls in Purgatory, because of their wounds-which are the results of their sins-are not yet able to accept God’s love. They rely on the prayers of their loved ones on earth for the healing that is needed so that they will be ready to enter into God’s presence.
Today we remember that we are still in solidarity with our deceased loved ones, and we show that solidarity by praying for them. The deceased may be our parents, spouse, children, relatives, and friends. We love them, and we are still united to them, even in death. That’s why we pray for them, that they may be ready to receive the full fire of God’s love.
With that in mind, I’d like to offer three concrete ways of showing solidarity with our deceased loved ones. Number one, have a funeral Mass along with a burial of the remains. Number two, have additional masses said for them. Number three, visit the cemetery and pray for them daily. These three things will show our deceased loved ones and God that we still love our dead and want them in heaven.
Jesus said, “I will not reject anyone who comes to me.” (John 6:37). Today, we trust that God will care for us and our loved ones in life and in death. With that in mind, I’d like to close with a prayer commending our deceased loved ones to God:
“Eternal rest grant unto them, o Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.”