“Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the Mercy of God, rest in Peace, Amen!”
(Based on All Soul’s Day)
A story is told of a King who had a lovely flower garden.
His gardener, who tended it, took great pains to make the garden an exotic paradise.
One morning the gardener went into the garden to visit his favourite flowers.
To his dismay he discovered that one of his choicest flowers had been cut from its stem.
Soon he saw that the most beautiful flower from each plot of the garden were missing.
Filled with anxiety and anger, he hurried to his fellow workers and demanded: “Who stole my priceless treasures?”
One of his helpers replied, “The King came into his garden this morning, picked those flowers himself, and took them into his house.
I guess he wanted to give the flowers the rightful place of beauty in his palace.”
The gardener, though sad, then realized that he had no reason to be concerned…
… because it was perfectly right for his master to pick some of his own prized blossoms.
Though he missed his lovely flowers…
… he also realized, he was only a caretaker
The flowers, in the true sense, belonged to the King, and to him alone!
Our lives are such…
In the garden of the world, as gardeners, we feel sad when we lose our loved ones – the prized blossoms of our life.
But when we realize, that it is the King Himself – God – Who has picked these blossoms…
… “to give the flowers the rightful place of beauty in His Palace.”
We are consoled and get a better realization that there is no reason to be concerned.
The flowers in the garden of our lives – our loved ones – in the true sense, belong to the King, and to Him alone!
Today is the All Souls Day – when we commemorate and pray for all the Faithful Departed…
… those flowers, who have gone away from the garden of our lives; yet whom we believe, are safe in the Mercy of God!
In the Apostles Creed, we recite, “I believe….in the Communion of Saints”.
The term “communion of saints” has two closely-linked meanings: communion in holy things and communion among holy persons.
The Communion of Saints is the three states of the Church: The Church Militant (the pilgrim Church on earth), The Church Suffering (the faithful departed), the Church Triumphant (the saints in glory)
“… at the present time, some of His disciples are pilgrims on earth. Others have died and are being purified, while still others are in glory, contemplating ‘in full light, God himself triune and one, exactly as He is'” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #954)
On this day, we (the Church Militant), in union with the prayers of the saints in glory (the Church Triumphant)…
… reach out our prayers, intercessions and love in a very special manner for our suffering brothers and sisters (the Church Suffering).
What makes us to pray for the dead… the faithful departed?
It is necessarily in the co-relationship that all human beings share with each other.
We do pray for the people who are in need, when they live on this earth.
We do seek intercessions on their behalf to God, when they are with us.
But when a person dies, his/her existence ceases only in our sight.
They still continue to live in God’s sight.
The dead are not dead for God.
This is what Jesus says in Luke 20:38, “…he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him, all are alive”
Therefore, it is logical and reasonable that we pray for the faithful departed.
“All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1030)
Therefore, it is a duty on our part that we pray for the purification of these Faithful Departed.
This Commemoration of the All Souls Day, is also a reminder of our own Death and the death of our close ones.
True, that as frail humans, we may have a natural fear and even a sort of phobia of death.
… but our Christian Love, Faith and Hope must gain the upper-hand in us.
Death is frightening for the faithless…
… but for the faithful, it is the doorway to the Fountain of Faith!
Death is horrifying for the loveless…
… but for those who love, it is the passage to the Fullness of Love!
Death is devastating for the hopeless…
… but for those who hope, it is the entry to the Spring of Hope!
Death is a reality.
No amount of reflection or sermons can substitute the pain of this reality.
Sometimes, in such situations, silence is the only answer that we can provide.
But this silence ought to be a silence of hope, a silence of trust and a silence of faith.
When we love God deeper, the fear of death decreases.
When we have a stronger faith in God, the pain of death reduces.
When we have an unshakeable hope in God, the anguish of death subsides
Let us also keep in mind, that this day of the “All Souls Day” as well as the Month of November is a time to gain Indulgences, that the Church offers.
This year, with the situation of the pandemic, the Church has issued an Apostolic Penitentiary decree giving special guidelines.
(1) A plenary indulgence for the faithful departed in purgatory can be gained, each day between for the whole month of November, by visiting a cemetery, and praying for the departed – even if the prayer is only mental.
(2) A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful who, on All Souls’ Day (or on any day in the month of November) devoutly visits a church and recites an Our Father and the Creed.
(3) A partial indulgence – applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory – can be obtained when the prayer:
“Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.”
[For those who are sick, the elderly or those who are unable to visit a cemetery or church for any other serious reason – such as coronavirus restrictions – it is possible to obtain any of these plenary indulgences by doing the following.
Spiritually uniting themselves with the faithful and doing one of the following before an image of Jesus or the Blessed Virgin Mary:
a. Praying devout pious prayers for the deceased (e.g. Rosary, Office of the Dead, Divine Mercy Chaplet, etc.)
b. Reading and reflecting on the Gospel passages prescribed for Masses of the Dead
c. Performing a work of mercy by offering to God the sorrow and hardships of their own lives]
(Let’s also keep in mind the conditions to be fulfilled for the reception of the Plenary Indulgence:
a. Do the act of the Indulgence (prayer/act) while in a state of grace
b. Receive Sacramental confession within 20 days
c. Receive Holy Communion
d. Pray for the Pope’s intentions (Our Father and Hail Mary, and/or other appropriate prayer)
e. Have no attachment to sin (even venial) – the person needs to make ‘an act of the will’ to love God and despise sin.
Death is hard.
But, the Lord has conquered this death!
Let us look on to Him, on the Cross, and find greater meaning and hope in life.
In the Lord…
… the faithful departed are “faithful returned!”
In the Lord…
… our loved ones do not leave home, “they go Home!”
May our Blessed Mother Mary who bore the pain of the death of Her Beloved Child be our refuge and strength.
May the prayers and example of the Church Triumphant be our inspiration and courage.
Yes, let us pray:
“Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May the souls of the faithful departed, through the Mercy of God, rest in Peace…
God Bless! Live Jesus!
Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Let is walk, joyously, dear souls, among the difficulties of this passing life…