Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Welcome to another post on the Bishop’s Blog!
When speaking of the distinguishing features of the human person, the Fathers of the Church highlighted those of memory, understanding, and will. The month of November, just begun, is a time when we believers in particular draw on our faculty of memory, as we remember and pray for the dead.
The Church on All Souls Day offers Mass and prays collectively for all “the faithful departed” with the conviction of faith that our prayers do matter and assist the dead on their way to God.
Customs and practices take on different forms in November throughout the Catholic world, but the intention underlying all of these is remembrance and prayer for the dead.
This time of November allows us to pause and cherish the memory of those now departed and are no longer with us, but who have been part of our lives in some way or another.
The wonder of this God-given gift of memory is that our dead continue, as it were, to be alive to us.
They continue to be part of us, and we of them. Our memory enables us to hold them before us and lovingly recall their presence, and this is a comfort and reassurance to us.
While November is a time of remembering our dead in faith, the Church reminds us that we the living are on a journey and will one day pass from earthly life into eternity. This helps to transform our understanding of the art of dying well.
In the liturgy of the Mass we express the hope that we will be united with those who have gone before us, a hope of course built on the solid foundation of Christ’s resurrection which has dramatically and drastically changed everything.
Our dead now die in the Lord – who is the risen Lord. Eternal life and all that that implies has been opened up to us.
The apostle Paul tells us that we should not mourn the dead like those with no hope. As we remember our own personal dead, whom we have known and loved, it is natural to feel sadness at their absence from us, but it ought to be a sadness shot through with hope and trust in God, and in his risen Son, Jesus Christ.
Our limited human understanding does not permit us to grasp the reality of eternity and the nature of the life that our dead in Christ now enjoy. What we do have is the understanding and conviction that comes from faith that our deceased brothers and sisters who believed in the Lord will now enjoy his company for ever.
The Masses and prayers which we offer on their behalf here below, especially in November, hasten their path towards the fullness of that life God has in store for all of us.
Until next week – be assured of my prayers and best wishes,
As ever in Christ,
+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster