by Anne Marie Kaufmann, Pastoral Associate for FFRE
"The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. Wis 3:1"
These words are from the first reading of the liturgy for the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, also known as All Souls’ Day. They are a reminder that all those we’ve known and loved who have passed from this world are now held lovingly in God’s hands.
As I considered whom I have loved among the faithful departed, I thought first of my maternal grandmother, Lena. A second-generation Italian, her name means light, bright, or shining, and her relationship with her grandchildren always radiated a loving light. When we arrived at her home in New Jersey, she would have an array of Tasty Cakes waiting for us. My favorite were the chocolate frosted cupcakes. She was a grandmother who hugged and never scolded. As she neared the end of her life, she encouraged me to hug more – a reminder I sometimes still need. Each holiday meal, even Thanksgiving Dinner, included stuffed shells or some other Italian pasta dish with homemade spaghetti sauce. It was from her that I learned the proper placement of silverware and napkins, as I would often help her set the dining room table where we would gather together with my aunts and uncles for dinner.
My grandmother also encouraged me to consider becoming a doctor. While I always enjoyed math and science, it was my studies in theology that unveiled a deeper desire to know God and to make God known. And perhaps it was my grandmother’s witness to her faith in God more than her words that nourished my own faith and planted seeds that led to eventual work in ministry.
I invite you to take time in prayer to recall your own family and friends who have died. What memories has God placed before you? What response does God ask?
On Wednesday, November 2, we will celebrate All Souls’ Day. This day offers us time to gather together in prayer to remember those family members and friends who have died and touched our lives. In addition to daily Mass, we will have two opportunities to remember the faithful departed: A Prayer Service at 12 pm at the Holy Trinity Columbarium at Holy Rood Cemetery and Vespers at 7:00 pm in the Church. We are then invited to extend this remembrance throughout the month of November being mindful of our loved ones, as we believe they continue to live in communion with us.
There also will be a Table of Remembrance in the Church for pictures of your loved ones. You might consider creating your own Table of Remembrance at home. God has given us the gift of family and friends for we were made to be in loving relationship with one another. So let us live in this loving communion with all the faithful departed.