On All Saints Day we remember Great people who lived an ordinary life with great love. All Souls Day is dedicated for our deceased dear and near ones who made us Great. That is why the Church has dedicated the whole month of November for all souls.
During the month of November we are invited to:
- Keep their memories in history by remembering and continuing their legacies and good examples in our lives and thereby handing them over to the next generations. According to African culture “to be remembered is the greatest blessing and to be forgotten soon is the greatest curse”. As a hospital chaplain, I saw many parents and grandparents, who had many children and grandchildren, die alone in the hospital holding only the hand of an ICU nurse, doctor or chaplain. However, I also witnessed many parents/grandparents who were blessed to be surrounded always with their family, with prayers and tears until the last moment of their lives. The best tribute we can give to our deceased dear and near ones is to continue their legacy: pick up one of their favorite words, values or examples which has touched us most and try to continue it in our lives and share it with others. There have been times where people have asked me to offer Mass for their beloved deceased ones on the 65th anniversaries of their death. To be remembered for 65 years, no doubt, is a great blessing.
- Pray for them: Though they lived a good life of prayer and sacrifice we never know, only God knows, whether they were prepared enough to enter Heaven. In case if they were not, according to our faith, they are sent to purgatory to be purified. During this period only we can help them by our prayers, sacrifices and charitable works. Recently, when I visited my friend in Germany, I saw people visit a cemetery next to the church after Mass, to pray and light candles. In Kerala, after the Mass on Sundays, many visit the tombs of their beloved deceased before they go home. It is often requested, in Kerala, that special Masses and prayers be offered at the tombs of deceased family members on their anniversaries. Further, there is a pious custom of reciting 40 Our Fathers and 4 Hail Mary’s during the month of November for the deceased.
- Reminder for us to be prepared to join with our beloved deceased: we are only pilgrims here on earth and we will not be happy until we return to Him (St. Augustine). Remembering our beloved deceased ones is the best reminder for us to be prepared always until we join them. Our beloved deceased ones still love us and continue to intercede for us always until we do join them, and in such reasoning, death is not something to be afraid of rather, something to be longed for and to be celebrated.
Eternal rest grant unto 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.
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