Monday, November 3, 2014

HOMILY Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed


By Deacon Jerry Franzen – Cathedral  11/02/2014
Wisdom 3:1–9   1 Thessalonians 4:13–18      John 17:24-26

The following was found written on a tombstone:

          "Remember me as you pass by.
           As you are now, so once was I.
           As I am now, one day you'll be.
           So stop and say a prayer for me."  

That little poem reminds us of two things about All Souls Day:      Today is a call to pray for our deceased loved ones
AND a reminder of our continuing relationship with those,
who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith.

I

The Church has always taught
that it is good and wonderful to pray for the deceased.
As we heard in the first reading, we pray that,
“Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed,
because God tried them
and found them worthy of himself.”
We pray that they had presented themselves
“as sacrificial offerings” during their lives
and that God has taken “them to himself.”
We pray in joy that
some are with the saints in the heavenly kingdom.
They too are saints, though they may not have been formally
proclaimed as such by the Church.
We believe that they can help us by interceding for us.
May we not forget that those loved ones who helped us in life,
who are now with God in heaven, can continue to help us.

We pray also for those souls in purgatory,
that somehow our prayers for them
will aid in their movement to heaven. 
We can’t understand exactly how God
receives our prayers of petition.
We certainly can’t be so arrogant as to think
that our prayers change God’s plan.
But, in faith, we know that God hears our prayers
and answers them.
It’s just that God is not on our time frame;
there is no past, present or future for God.
God is eternal and all knowing.
He has known forever the substance of our prayers.
He has already answered our prayers according to His will
with the answer that He knows is best for us.
Our prayers have been answered before we offer them.

While our prayers don’t change God, they must change us.
We pray that the souls in purgatory
soon will be in the everlasting peace of God’s presence.
Our remembrance of our deceased beloved ones
through our prayers for them serves to remind us
that we must not allow our grief to continue,
that we must have hope,
for there is that great hope that
they are with God, or soon will be,
AND that we will some day also be with them.

II

My father died in 1982.
Certainly, I wish he were still here bodily.
But he is with me often,
whenever I am assisting at the altar,
because he was an altar server and a choir member                                   when he was young.
He is with me whenever I water or prune a houseplant,
because he was an avid grower of houseplants.
He is with me whenever I work in the yard or paint a wall.
He was with me whenever I taught students how soap is made,
because I watched him make soap, when I was young.

Today (11/2) is the anniversary of my mother’s death in 2007.
I especially remember my parents whenever I say the rosary,
because we said it together at the kitchen table
on many evenings after dinner.
They are with me when I play with my grandchildren,
because I remember their playing with my children.
I keep in communion with them this way.
This communication serves to remind me of my mortality,
not that I should fear my mortality,
but that through this communication
I must know that if I accept God’s love
as they did,
my death will be conquered.

In the gospel, Jesus’ teaching was a clear description
of His mission for conquering that death.
God the Father gave Jesus the responsibility
of the salvation of all souls.
Jesus will not reject anyone who comes to Him,
even the greatest sinner, because Jesus’ mission
was the salvation of ALL souls.
It is the will of the Father that we all should be with Him.
Jesus emphasized that this meant everybody who came to Him,
and that all of these would be glorified in His final coming.

Those who we remember today
responded to the love of Jesus and believed in Him.
They were welcomed by Jesus in heaven,
or will soon be welcomed,
and we have the hope of joining them “on the last day.”

III

 

Today we celebrate the feast of All Souls,
all those who have departed this earth.
On Wednesday, at a 10:00 AM Mass
we will place special emphasis on those
whose funerals were in this parish,
since last year at this time.

Each of us has relatives and friends who have died.
I pray that the Lord comfort you
as you continue to deal with your loss.
We are all reminded today of those special friends
and loved ones who have gone before us.
May we celebrate our continuing communion with them,
and praise God for revealing to us his love through them.

If you make a couple of changes in that little poem
I included at the beginning, you get the following:

           "Remember those who have passed your way.
           As you are now, so once were they.
           As they are now, one day you'll be,
           Together with God for all eternity"