2 Nov 2015

2nd November - All Souls (Commemoration of the Faithful Departed)

 
From Pilgrims Progress - "November comes between the rejoicing of the harvest and the short, dark days of winter. It is a time when people focus on death and the dead. Celebrating the feasts of All Saints and All Souls, we profess our solidarity with the saints and ancestors; with those on whose shoulders we stand. All of this helps us grow in readiness to acknowledge, with St. Francis, that death is a sister to us, another of God’s servant:
 
 
We praise You, Lord, for Sister Death,
from whom no-one living can escape….
Blessed are those that she finds doing Your Will.
No second death can do them harm.
 - St. Francis of Assisi, “Canticle of the Sun” "
 
All Saints, All Souls are seen as the thin times of the year, especially for those of a Celtic inheritance it is easy to feel that our pagan ancestors were right when they marked the changing of the seasons at this time. As the earth heads into hibernation and rebirth, the ancient Celts saw this time as a "thin place" between this world and the next. The Triduum of the Dead - (All Hallows Eve (Halloween), All Saints and All Souls) is a reminder to us that our nearest and dearest who have died are not really that far away and that we honour and pray for and with each other in the Communion of Saints especially at this time of the year.

Whilst you remember your own loved ones at this time, also remember to pray for those that are mourning. While time may change the pain of loss, it can never be said to truly go away; remember those who mourn and feel that pain at this time too especially for those who have lost loved ones in the last twelve months.

From ancient times, Christians have had the tradition of praying for the dead. Today, we lift up our hearts and prayers to those who have gone before us. In the Mystical Body of Christ, we are united with them and pray for their eternal souls. As well as our dearly departed, we are encouraged to pray for others, perhaps especially those who died as victims of injustice, war and hunger. In praying for the dead, we are reminded of the joys of eternal life, which through Christ Jesus, is made accessible to all of us. 

On All Souls Day, we not only remember the dead, but we apply our efforts, through prayer, almsgiving, and the Mass, to their release from Purgatory. There are two plenary indulgences attached to All Souls Day, one for visiting a church and another for visiting a cemetery. (The plenary indulgence for visiting a cemetery can also be obtained every day from November 1-8, and, as a partial indulgence, on any day of the year.) While the actions are performed by the living, the merits of the indulgences are applicable only to the souls in Purgatory.

Praying for the dead is a Christian obligation. In the modern world, when many have come to doubt the Church's teaching on Purgatory, the need for such prayers has only increased. The Church devotes the month of November to prayer for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, and participation in the Mass of All Souls Day is a good way to begin the month.
 

 

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord,
Lord, hear my voice!
O let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleading.

If you, O Lord, should mark our guilt,
Lord, who would survive?
But with you is found forgiveness:
for this we revere you.

My soul is waiting for the Lord,
I count on his word.
My soul is longing for the Lord
more than watchmen for daybreak.

Let the watchmen count on daybreak
and Israel on the Lord.

Because with the Lord there is mercy
and fullness of redemption,
Israel indeed he will redeem
from all its iniquity
.

 
Psalm 130


Photos: Victorian Cemeteries of London

"Morti irrequieti somnum reperiat et lux memorandi nostri eum porteat ad pacem aeternam"

"May the restless dead find sleep and may the light of our remembering guide them to everlasting sleep."


Over at iBenedictines, Digitalnun wrote a wonderful reflection for All Souls in 2012:
Catholicism can be an uncomfortable religion to live by, but it is a wonderful religion in which to die. As death draws closer we are surrounded by prayer, our bodies are anointed and we receive the Viaticum to help us on our way. At the moment of death a singularly beautiful prayer is prayed, and after death our bodies are accorded the simple rituals I described in an earlier post. But that is not the end of of the matter. The Church goes on praying for us, perseveringly. November, in particular, is a month when we pray for the dead with special earnestness. Today, on the feast of All Souls, everyone will join in praying for all the faithful departed — not just the people known to us, but those unknown, those who have no-one else to pray for them. The feast of All Souls thus unites the living and the dead. 
Last year I summed it up by saying 
"Instead of pushing the dead out of sight or surrounding them with euphemisms, we state the facts baldly and pray for the dead as we pray for ourselves, asking God to remove every trace of sin from those not yet ready for the blessedness of heaven. We believe that our prayers can help those who have died and are undergoing the final purification of purgatory, when the soul is prepared for the vision of God. To pray for the dead is thus a work of charity, a way of helping those who cannot help themselves."




In a very moving, personal reflection on his imminent death in 1996, the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago wrote the book “The Gift of Peace” several weeks before going to God. At the end of his personal testament he wrote:
“Many people have asked me to tell them about heaven and the afterlife. I sometimes smile at the request because I do not know any more than they do. Yet, when one young man asked if I looked forward to being united with God and all those who have gone before me, I made a connection to something I said earlier in this book. 
The first time I traveled with my mother and sister to my parents’ homeland of Tonadico di Primiero, in northern Italy, I felt as if I had been there before. After years of looking through my mother’s photo albums, I knew the mountains, the land, the houses, the people. As soon as we entered the valley, I said, “My God, I know this place. I am home.” Somehow I think crossing from this life into eternal life will be similar. I will be home.”


“We must not make purgatory into a flaming concentration camp on the brink of hell—or even a ‘hell for a short time.’ It is blasphemous to think of it as a place where a petty God exacts the last pound—or ounce—of flesh.... St. Catherine of Genoa, a mystic of the 15th century, wrote that the ‘fire’ of purgatory is God’s love ‘burning’ the soul so that, at last, the soul is wholly aflame. It is the pain of wanting to be made totally worthy of One who is seen as infinitely lovable, the pain of desire for union that is now absolutely assured, but not yet fully tasted”  
(Leonard Foley, O.F.M., Believing in Jesus). from American Catholic.org



"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.

For if before men, indeed, they be punished, yet is their hope full of immortality; chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself. As gold in the furnace, he proved them, and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself. In the time of their visitation they shall shine, and shall dart about as sparks through stubble; they shall judge nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord shall be their King forever.

Those who trust in him shall understand truth, and the faithful shall abide with him in love: because grace and mercy are with his holy ones, and his care is with his elect."


-- From the Book of Wisdom, (a reading for Mass on All Soul's Day).
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
  

 
In paradisum (English: "Into paradise") is an antiphon from the traditional Latin liturgy of the Roman Catholic Requiem Mass. It is sung by the choir as the body is being taken out of the church:

In paradisum deducant te Angeli; in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres, et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Ierusalem. Chorus angelorum te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere æternam habeas requiem.  
May angels lead you into paradise; upon your arrival, may the martyrs receive you and lead you to the holy city of Jerusalem. May the ranks of angels receive you, and with Lazarus, the poor man, may you have eternal rest.
 
 
At his weekly general audience on 2nd November 2011, addressing pilgrims from various different countries, Pope Benedict XVI focused his remarks on the Solemnity of All Souls and the reality of death.     
"Despite the fact that death is a subject almost banned from our societies, and there are continuous attempts to remove even the thought of it from our minds, it actually concerns each one of us", Pope Benedict explained.

"Faced with this mystery all of us, even unconsciously, seek something that allows us to hope, a sign that can bring consolation, a horizon open to a future". We are afraid of death because "we are afraid of the void, of departing towards something we do not know". At the same time, "we cannot accept that all the great and beautiful achievements of a lifetime can suddenly be wiped out, that they can fall into the abyss of emptiness. Above all we feel that love calls out for eternity, and we cannot accept that it is destroyed by death in a single moment. ... When we find ourselves towards the end of life, we have a perception that there is judgment of our actions, of how we conducted our life, especially in those dark movements which, with great ability, we often remove or seek to remove from our conscience".   

In today's world, the Holy Father went on, "there is a widespread tendency to think that everything must be approached with the criteria of experimental science, and that even the great question of death must be answered, not with faith, but on the basis of empirical data. We are not sufficiently aware, however, that precisely by doing so we have ended up falling into a form of spiritism, in the attempt to have some contact with the world beyond death". However, for Christians the Solemnities of All Saints and All Souls "tell us that only those capable of recognising great hope in death are also able to live lives founded on hope. ... Man needs eternity; for him any other hope is too brief, too limited. Man is explainable only if there is a Love which overcomes all isolation, even the isolation of death, in a totality which transcends time and space. Man is explainable, he finds his most profound meaning, only if God exists. And we know that God ceased to be distant, that He came close to us". "God truly showed Himself, He became accessible, He so loved the world 'that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life'. And by the supreme act of love upon the Cross, by emerging Himself in the abyss of death, He conquered death, He rose again and opened the doors of eternity for us too. Christ supports us through the night of death, which He Himself experienced. He is the Good Shepherd, to Whose guidance we can entrust ourselves without fear, because He knows the way, even through the darkness".

"It is precisely faith in eternal life which gives Christians the courage to love this earth of ours even more intensely, and to work to build an earthly future of true and secure hope", the Holy Father concluded.
         

On this day is observed the commemoration of the faithful departed, in which our common and pious Mother the Church, immediately after having endeavoured to celebrate by worthy praise all her children who already rejoice in heaven, strives to aid by her powerful intercession with Christ, her Lord and Spouse, all those who still groan in purgatory, so that they may join as soon as possible the inhabitants of the heavenly city."  
— Roman Martyrology (from Catholic Culture)

 

 
 
Miserere (full title: Miserere mei, Deus, Latin for "Have mercy on me, O God") is a setting of Psalm 51 (50) by Italian composer Gregorio Allegri. It was composed during the reign of Pope Urban VIII, probably during the 1630s, for use in the Sistine Chapel during matins, as part of the exclusive Tenebrae service on Holy Wednesday and Good Friday of Holy Week.
 
Have mercy on me, O God,
   according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
   blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
   and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
   and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
   and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
   and blameless when you pass judgement.
Indeed, I was born guilty,
   a sinner when my mother conceived me.

You desire truth in the inward being;
*
   therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
   wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
   let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
   and blot out all my iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
   and put a new and right
* spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
   and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
   and sustain in me a willing
* spirit.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
   and sinners will return to you.
Deliver me from bloodshed, O God,
   O God of my salvation,
   and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.

O Lord, open my lips,
   and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you have no delight in sacrifice;
   if I were to give a burnt-offering, you would not be pleased.
The sacrifice acceptable to God
* is a broken spirit;
   a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
   rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
then you will delight in right sacrifices,
   in burnt-offerings and whole burnt-offerings;
   then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Over at Blue Eyed Ennis, Phil found this little gem of a video of John O'Donohue introducing and reciting his poem Beannacht:

      
  



And death shall have no dominion.
Dead man naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan't crack;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Though they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.

 

     
 

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