Sermon for the Commemoration of All Souls
2nd Nov 2016
The Commemoration of All Souls Sermon 2016
“Praying for one’s departed loved ones is a far too immediate urge to be suppressed. It is a most beautiful manifestation of solidarity, love and assistance, reaching beyond the barrier of death”.
Pope Benedict XVI.
At this particular time of the year in the first days of November, the Church seems to wrap itself in the lives of those who have gone before us: and the dead in particular. On the 1st November in the lives of all the saints, which we celebrated last Sunday. Then as the days in November wear on, we come to that moment on the 11th hour of the 11th month as Armistice Day is observed. And then there comes Remembrance Sunday and the wearing of poppies… Today’s All Soul’s Day is the Church’s Day of the Dead, and forms an inseparable part of the general commemoration of the dead. Its purpose is to keep us in mind of what we know already. That there is a fine veil that separates life from death and from those who have gone before us; those whose lives we have known and loved. They are a part of us and their loving influence is remains with us for all time. Marked for Philip Larkin on an Arundel Tomb is the telling phrase ‘What will survive of us is love’.
For the Christian, life is of God’s making and it is sacred. And all is vital for our understanding of who God is. As God’s creatures we stand in awe of the grandeur and the mystery of what he has made and how he has made it. The true meaning of life lies beyond mere speech. No wonder, then, that the appropriate response in the remembrance of the dead is one of silence. The Two Minute’s Silence speaks to us clearly in this busy world more than ever in ways words never could. In the silence is communicated that place where the living and the dead hold communion. Yet another tradition in the remembering of the dead is the writing down or the reading out of the names of the dead. We may imagine the war memorials, with their thousands of names, the books of commemoration and condolence, as well as the engravings for those known and unknown on countless memorial stones. And at his All Souls Mass, the long list of the names of the dead, known by you and I both individually and severally is solemnly read out. It is stands both as a list of the dead and a declaration of our faith in the one who has risen from the Dead – Our Lord Jesus Christ.
This Solemn Commemoration of All Souls on this day each year, 2nd November is, as Pope Benedict has said, “…a beautiful manifestation of solidarity, love and assistance, reaching beyond the barrier of death’. However faint our powers of recollection, we nevertheless feel in our own lives the influences of those who have gone before us. We feel there is more here than words can express, for ‘what will survive of us is love’.
A Poem : Love is the bridge
Love is the bridge that links two worlds:
this world in which we mourn and suffer loss
and the fair world of eternity’s dawn.
Love is the bridge which helps us cross
and love itself our crossing,
for in the love with which we hold our dear ones still
we find the promise of a bond without a losing.
Nothing is stronger than the force of death but love;
love is the eternal gift that knows no end -
it springs up in our hearts we know not how,
its music through our lives befriends
And at their requiem love breathes hope
for God is love;
God is love, and so our loves are held most safe
in the eternal arms
where all things are made new, made perfect
healed, and whole.
Holy is the One who heals and perfects us through love
And to this loving there is never ending.