Thursday, November 3, 2011

A very merry All Souls Day

Fidelium, Deus, omnium conditor et redemptor: animabus famulorum, famularumque tuarum remissione cunctorum tribue peccatorum; ut indulgentiam, quam semper optaverunt, piis supplicationibus consequantur: Qui vivis et regnas in saecula saeculorum.*

Contrary to modern American belief, the holiday known as Halloween doesn't really end on the 31st of October.  In fact, that day is not really a holiday at all.  It is simply the eve of the real holiday All Saints Day.  Now most people have heard of All Saints in the endless debates about the origins of Halloween.  But what many don't know is that fast on the heels of All Saints Day is another Catholic gem called All Souls Day. 

Dad in his prime, along with the family pooch Tramp.  Both are missed.
Whereas All Saints is the commemoration of all the saints of the faith, those we acknowledge to those we do not know, All Souls brings it closer to home.  It certainly did for me.  For it is the day in which Catholics around the world remember those who have died, especially those who have passed this year.  Since my Dad died only about six months ago, this was a special time for me. 
Our parish has a wonderful All Souls Mass, and we attended it last night.  It was a typical Mass, except for the inclusion of a candlelight procession, in which one candle representing the loved one who died is brought forward and lit from the Paschal Candle.  That candle, representing the Light of Christ, carries the light to the smaller candle, in this case representing my Dad.  I then took it and placed it to the left of the Alter where it will burn for a week. 

That was a way to remember the ultimate promise of our faith.  Laugh as they may, secularists can't appreciate the peace that comes with realizing that my Dad has not passed into oblivion, but now rests in the arms of a loving and merciful God.  As I saw that light go from the light of Christ to my Dad's candle, I was able to say goodbye, and trust my Dad's soul to the grace and love of Christ.   He's still in my thoughts, and I'll remember him every day.  But there was a closure, a sense of peace that came with seeing him placed upon that shelf alongside the faithfully departed.  I was able to say, "Take him Jesus, he belongs to you now.  He did the work he was here to do, and I'll always be thankful, but now it's time to let go." 

So it was a very merry, if not somewhat bittersweet, All Souls Day.  I'll still miss him, but that Catholic tendency of playing out the mysteries of our faith with visible and touchable symbols and customs, went far last night in helping me see the consummation of our faith, the receiving of our promise that I pray Dad will receive, and that we will all join when our own time has come. 

*"O God the creator, and redeemer of all the faithful, give unto the souls of your servants remission of all their sins: that through pious supplications they may obtain the pardon which they have always wished for. Who lives and reigns forever."

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