They seemed, in the view of the foolish,
to be dead…and their going forth from us, utter destruction.
But they are in peace. (Wis. 3:2-3)
Today, we remember and celebrate the lives of those who have gone before us. Paige Byrne Shortal tells a story about grieving and remembering that I found touching.
Years ago I got a call at my parish office. A man asked, “Do you sing funerals?” “Of course,” I answered. “How much do you charge?” I explained that it was part of my work for which I was already paid. Then the weird question: “How much notice do you need?”
“Are we talking about you?” I asked as gently as I could. We were. He had AIDS. We met regularly for several weeks and the only way he could talk about his death was to talk about his funeral Mass. He was obsessive about every detail and when I finally questioned him, he said, “I just want everyone there to know I was loved.” I asked who could possibly be there who doubted it and he replied, “Me.” And he wept.
Remembering with love is what All Souls is about … and finding comfort in the company of mourners. Perhaps today’s liturgy will inspire us to live with courage and passion, thereby creating fond memories for those who will someday mourn and celebrate our going forth into the bright land beyond.
When my dad was older and no longer able to drive I can remember driving him to different cemeteries on Memorial Day and he would place flowers on the graves of different family members and other loved ones. For me the best part of the experience was hearing dad tell different stories of the people we were remembering. It demonstrated the love that was there and how that love continues to live on in the memories. I hope you are able to remember and share stories of loved ones who now share life with our Father in heaven.
Below is a suggested prayer for people visiting a grave today. Whether you can be at the grave or not, it is a prayer worth praying.
whose days are without end
and whose mercies beyond counting,
keep us mindful
that life is short and the hour of death unknown.
Let your Spirit guide our days on earth
in the ways of holiness and justice,
that we may serve you
in union with the whole Church,
sure in faith, strong in hope, perfected in love.
And when our earthly journey is ended,
lead us rejoicing into your kingdom,
where you live for ever and ever.
I am taking some time off this week to visit a friend in Knoxville. There will be mass on Wednesday (11/5) and communion services on Monday (11/3) and Friday (11/7).