Posted by: geolocke | 2014/11/02

All Souls Day

Last night I was Cantor for “All Saints Day” vigil Mass. This night is also known as “All Hallows Eve”, or more commonly know in the west as Halloween.  Attendance at the Mass was sparse to say the least. There were a total of 37 parishioners in attendance including eight of us who were performing as ministers; one Priest, two Altar servers, two music ministers, two lectors, and one sacristan.  The remaining congregation also included one nun and one seminarian. To an outsider this might seem like wasted time, but I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to minister to all who gathered with us last night, since as Jesus said: ‘where two or three gather in my name, I will be there with them.’ To me it felt more like I was singing to my close family instead of to a congregation.

All Saints Day is a feast day dedicated to those women and men who, despite many obstacles and sometimes great suffering, held firm in their faith and ultimately triumphed in the Lord.  It is true that many of them did not start out as living saintly lives (St. Paul comes to mind) but once they came to know the Lord, they never turned their backs to Him. These are the Saints that we look to as our models of how to live a Christ centered life. By their example, we gain insight into how we should live our lives even when we are confronted with our own obstacles and suffering.

So All Saints Day gets a special place in our calendar of worship, but tomorrow is just as important, even though it is lesser known, or perhaps not understood.  Tomorrow is “All Souls Day” when we celebrate the lives and memory of those family members and friends who have gone before us in the Faith. We commemorate them in our prayers and visit with them in Cemeteries and in our hearts. They still live with us in Spirit and in our hearts and minds, just not in this time and place since they have already died. It can be a hard concept to grasp. We are not talking about ghosts and wandering spirits but about the souls of the faithfully departed who now reside with the Lord and who are still present to us through the Lord.

I have become aware of my own connection to All Souls Day through my genealogical research on my family. I have learned about many of my ancestors and their stories, their trials and struggles, their failures and triumphs, and how each of them has in some small manner imparted a little bit of their lives into my life. I alluded to this briefly in an earlier post called Family Affairs. Through my research and discoveries of family links, I can sense the bond that ties each of us together, and not just my direct family line, but also those family lines that are connected to mine through marriages and other relationships, both known and unknown. It is a humbling feeling thinking about the great chain of ancestors from whom I am descended.

My genealogical research may have started out focusing on studying my family history and learning about my ancestor’s stories and their various relationships, and producing a ‘grand picture’ illustrating my family’s personal history and connections, but I also found something entirely unexpected and wonderful.  As I learned each of their stories, I grew in understanding just enough about them that I found I wanted to pray for them, especially since they had been forgotten by most of my family that lives today.

Praying for the dead is one of the chief attributes of being a Christian, but praying for my own ancestral family makes my prayers personal and real. Although I began simply enough, praying just for my grandparents, I have found that my prayer has since grown more inclusive and expanded as I have come to understand not just my own family story, but also as I have grown into a deeper understanding of, and relationship with God.

God is not confined by time or space and so God is free to act across all times and in all places at once. Knowing this then, the act of praying for my family has indeed lead me to a whole new understanding of the power of Prayer which God has granted to us. The following is the general form of my daily morning prayer for my family. The words and format may change a little from day-to-day, but the general prayer remains consistent in its intent.

Holy Spirit, calm the inner fires of thought which attempt to distract me from my prayer.

Mother Mary, please pray with me and for me and join your prayer with mine as I Pray to our Lord.

Holy God, hear my prayer this day, and the prayer of our Blessed Mother Mary, as I ask for your blessing to be bestowed upon my entire family.

Please Bless me and my wife, our parents, grandparents, children and grandchildren, our sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews and all our spouses and their families, all our ancestors, all our relatives and relations, both known to us and unknown by us, for all generations that are past, lost in the mists of time and history, for all generations that live today, and for all our descendants in the generations that are yet to come in the darkness of the future that is known only to you.

You Lord, who exist outside time and space, come to each and every one of us in our own time and in our own place. Strengthen us, comfort us, call to us all and lead us all to your heavenly kingdom.

Lord, I ask for this blessing in the name of Your Son, my Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.

For me this is a humbling prayer knowing that the uncountable multitude of ancestors, relatives, relations and descendants whom I am praying for will be helped by our God in their own time – past, present, and future – regardless of whether I know them or not. And I hope and pray that one of them is praying for me right now in their own time and place on All Souls Day and on every day.  -Amen.

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Responses

  1. Thank you for that wonderful reflection on praying for the dead, George. It will color my day today and inspire me as I speak to the children in Faith Formation. Today there will be a prayer service remembering the dead, at the columbarium. How I wish I could visit the cemetery where many of my family are buried. Thanks, as well, for the exact count of those who attended the vigil. I had only counted 22….but remember that the 144,000 + were also there.
    Blessings!
    Sister Renee

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Sr. Renee. It was good to see you again this morning, You do stay quite busy!

      I had also thought about touching upon Praying for the Souls in Purgatory, But I think it is best to cover that subject in its own post.

      Have a blessed Day. -geo

      On Sun, Nov 2, 2014 at 7:37 AM, SevenFold Gifts wrote:

      >

      Like


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