Today is the Feast of All Souls.
Appropriately placed the day after the Feast of All Saints, this feast gives us the opportunity to reflect upon and pray for those who have gone before us, those who have been “called home” by the Lord.
At our parish, we celebrate this feast in a very special way.
This evening, we will celebrate our Liturgy of Remembrance. This special prayer service gives us a chance to remember our beloved dead.
Each year, we invite the families of those who have lost a loved one in the previous calendar year to come to the church. They often bring a photograph with them of their loved one and place it on a table at the front of the church.
We have songs and scriptures and a homily that focus upon our hope for eternal life as well as our grief over the passing of a loved one.
Then a grief specialist speaks about the passing of time and all the anniversary moments that affect us most.
After the specialist’s talk, we read the names of those who have died in the previous year.
As a name is read, a member of the family comes forward and receives a candle that has been lit from the Paschal Candle. They carry it back to their place until all the names have been read and until anyone who wishes to remember a loved one has had an opportunity to come forward and receive a candle.
At that point in time, a special reflection is read and then the candles are extinguished and taken home.
We have refreshments afterwards for anyone who may wish to remain for a little bit of fellowship.
It is good to remember our beloved dead.
It is good because it helps us to go through out grief in a healthy manner.
It is good because it helps us celebrate the lives of those we have lost.
It is good because it helps us to put our faith into perspective. We know that we will see our beloved again when the Lord calls us to Himself as well.
To all of you who mourn the loss of a loved one, hang in there. Times do get better. The loss becomes less “raw” and life becomes more bearable.
Until that time comes, please know that you have many people praying for you, that you may find the healing that you need.
Eternal rest grant to our beloved dead, O Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace!