Feast of All Soul's Day, Nov. 2, 2014
Saints Peter & Paul Parish, Tucson, AZ
|Black Vestments are allowed|
on All Souls' Day and
Today’s feast is a reminder that we are part of a larger community, both living and dead. We pray for mercy on all souls, including ourselves that we will allow God’s mercy entrance into our lives. We want to allow our Lord to free us from everything that ties us down to this world so that we can fly to the next.
All Souls' Day falls in the month of November when the weather begins to change and the nights become longer. So we are reminded that one day our life here on earth will end and we will face what comes ahead.
Many do not want to think about death. We do not need to fear death, but we should prepare for it. If we strive to keep ourselves pure, we can rejoice in death. “The souls of the just are in the hand of God.” That's what we hear in today's reading (Wisdom 3:1-9) And therefore, we remain connected to those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith. We should pray for them in the hopes that one day we might live in communion with them.
"The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them."
What is the soul? Saint Thomas Aquinas described the soul as “the animating energy of the body.” We could also say that our soul is the blueprint of our existence. Evidence of our eternal soul is that we are self-aware, and this self-awareness lives on after death, perfected in our resurrected bodies. Our soul links us to our future home in eternity. Our soul transcends this world even now.
My brothers and sisters, today’s celebration reminds us that each one of us will live forever! This is why Our Lord in today’s Gospel passage speaks so readily of eternal life, reminding us that He came so that everyone who sees Him and believes in Him may have eternal life.
We also are reminded that our choices now will determine the state of our soul for all eternity! This is why our Lord came into the world, lived and died on the cross -- for the salvation of our souls!
This is true mercy! But we must respond. He calls us to live, but not for the world because the world has become a place of immorality and corruption. He calls us to raise our minds and hearts to His eternal wisdom.
Today’s first reading reminds us that if we want eternal life then we must first prove ourselves worthy. We are reminded that the souls of the just are chastised a little, but that “they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself. As gold in the furnace, he proved them, and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself."
My brothers and sisters, the Christian life is not easy! Our Lord’s saving mission to restore our soul to communion with God the Father requires work on our part. It requires that we reject the values of the world! It requires that we pray and make sacrifices for our souls and for the salvation of all souls!
The foolish do not understand because most want it easy. The world hates sacrifice. Yet, eternal salvation is not born from comfort. It comes by entering into the narrow gate of self-denial! If we do not grasp this now, then we will face it in Purgatory.
Priests take a vow of celibacy at our ordination. This vow is a stranger to our secular culture, and even Catholics don't understand it. We do not see beyond the limitations of our fallen nature.
Yet, this is precisely why priests take the vow of celibacy! We want to witness in a special way to the reality of the kingdom of heaven in this life on earth. We are to conform ourselves to Christ as a sign of the future resurrection, when our earthly body will be changed into a heavenly body. But you too -- each in your own vocation -- are called to show forth the reality of heaven by the way you live your lives!
"In the time of their visitation they shall shine, and shall dart about as sparks through stubble."
My brothers and sisters, if we are truly living out our Christian life, we appear foolish to the world! But you know what, praise God because this world is passing away, and God is preparing a place for all who seek Him in His kingdom of justice, truth, and love.
"Those who trust in Him shall understand truth, and the faithful shall abide with him in love: because grace and mercy are with his holy ones, and his care is with his elect."
As we come together to celebrate Mass on this special celebration of All Souls, let us remember life is short. And let us pray for those who have gone before us. God bless you.