On November 1 and 2 we celebrate two back to back Solemnities of remembrance, All Saints Day and All Souls Day. To any initiated Catholic or any slightly informed individual, they know what these days signify.
We honor Saints that the Church recognizes as great examples of exemplary living and on All Souls Day we pray for those that have gone before us in hope that our prayers will help them out of purgatory and into heaven. Of course we pray all year long for our beloved deceased, but the Church sets aside these days to thank God for all the souls that He created.
We all know someone in our times that we have no doubt that God has embraced the second they left this earth. Personally I think of my mother. There is no doubt that because of the way she handled, with grace and humility, the hardships and verbal abuse all her life, that God is holding her this very minute.
Granted, like the parable of the laborers, we don’t know who has slipped through the gates of heaven. But on these two Solemnities we pray for all who have gone before us.
There are many ways we can join in community to pray for our loved ones. First of course, by attending Mass on both days; it’s a powerful expression of faith, when we come together in community and pray in unison for all Saints and sinners.
Secondly, when we visit the resting places of our loved ones, we’re praying for all the souls at the cemetery not just the ones we know, but especially for the ones who have no one to pray for them. Cemeteries, especially Catholic cemeteries, because of the element of prayer, are an extension of the Church. We come into the Church at baptism and we end our labor in the fields of the Lord in that same Church and resting in either blessed ground or in a consecrated Catholic cemetery.
This year on All Saints Day and All Souls Day, let us come together to pray for all our beloved dead, knowing that some who we pray for have already slipped through the gates of heaven into All Saints Day. Let us also pray that if we only deserve an hour’s wages, that through God’s mercy, we will be paid in full with eternity!
Deacon John Barna is the director of the Diocesan Office of Catholic Cemeteries and is also assigned to St. Peter and St. Paul parish in Alta Loma.