All Souls Day 2021

Order of service for people who have died in St. Edward's parish 2021 placed in front of the altar

If our love is sincere and true, it must be endless love,

and death can never quench it

This day – like no other day of the year – has its unique atmosphere and character, and it makes us reflect on the meaning of life and death. I am sure that this day, November 2 is very moving and sentimental for many of you. It is good that All Souls Day – like All Saints’ Day, which we celebrated last Sunday – is very meaningful and important for us, mainly because it gives us the opportunity to express our deep faith that death does not end our relationship and love for our departed brothers and sisters, our loved ones. Even if we cannot meet them face to face anymore, even if we cannot shake their hands anymore, even if we cannot talk and laugh with them anymore, even if we cannot go to a restaurant for lunch or to a coffee shop and chat with them, but we can always feel their presence wherever we are, we can always have spiritual contact with them.

All Souls Day reminds us that apart from heaven there is something else, there is the reality of purgatory which is like a waiting room on our way to heaven. And this is also a very important truth of our catholic faith which we must not forget. I think each of us – including me – likes to hear about heaven, paradise and eternal happiness with God and all the saints that was promised to us and as we hope, awaits each of us after death whenever it happens. But this day reminds us that, not everyone goes straight to heaven like Our Lady did. Why? Because only she has never committed any sin, she was immaculate – as we say. But apart from Our Lady, each of us including me succumbs to temptations and commits sins and each of us will experience the reality of Purgatory. We don’t know what this place looks like or where it is because none of us have been there. The only think we know about this mysterious place is that it is a temporary place of suffering, cleansing, waiting and unimaginable longing for God. It is not something terrifying and hopeless, mainly because all the souls who suffer and have to wait to be reunited with God, all these souls know that it is only a temporary place. All their longings and sufferings will be ended and can be ended much sooner thanks to our prayers and every spiritual support we can give them. Unfortunately, they are not able to help themselves on the other side of life in eternity, but instead we can help them at any time, we can make their longing for God shorter, we can make them reconciled with God and with all the saints who are already in heaven. And that is why All Souls’ Day is not a sad, frightening or pessimistic day at all, even if we hear today about purgatory and suffering, which are certainly neither nice nor pleasant topics at all. But in a way, all Souls Day is a day of great hope because it reminds us that our prayers for the dead have really great power and are much appreciated, and I am sure that our deceased brothers and sisters are very grateful to us for everything we do for them especially every year at the beginning of November but also for every Mass intention offered for them and for even the shortest prayer.

And finally, the last thought of my short reflection. Memento mori – this is a Latin phrase that I personally remember every year on November 2 – remember that you will die! One day sooner or later each of us will be on the other side of life – in eternity. I don’t know about you, but I will definitely experience Purgatory before I see God face to face in Heaven and I will need a lot of prayers from my family, my parishioners and friends. I would like to count on them and rely on them after my death – and who knows, perhaps on you as well – if God calls me unexpectedly and suddenly as he called Fr Wilson almost 2 years ago. What is my reflection leading up to and what will the final message be for all of us? Let us do our best to give a good example and teach especially the young generation – our children, grandchildren, nephews’ nieces – this beautiful truth of our Catholic faith about heaven, about our immortality, about immortality of our souls, but also about purgatory. Let us give them a good example of love and spiritual care for our dead who lived among us and for us, and whom we have never stopped loving. Someone once said that – If our love is sincere and true, it must be endless love, and death can never quench it. Let us make every effort to teach the young generation how important and how beautiful our Catholic tradition is, how important this particular day is – November 2 – All Souls’ Day. And finally let us tell them how important our Christian hope and our prayers are, and our memory of those who have passed away. May they rest in God’s peace.

Fr Gregory