The beautiful color of fall leaves we saw in October have mostly faded as we move deep into November. We spent last month seeking Our Lady’s intercession during that special month devoted to her and the rosary.
This month, our attention and prayer has turned to those other holy men and women who have gone before us. Throughout November, we remember all the souls and saints who faithfully followed Christ in this life and are now on the way to or with Our Lord Jesus Christ in heaven.
We all have had friends, family or loved ones die. The church always encourages us to take time in November — which began with the celebrations of All Saints (Nov. 1) and All Souls (Nov. 2) — to especially remember each of them in our thoughts and prayers. We are even encouraged to visit cemeteries during this month, to pray for the souls buried there. Praying for the dead is one of the seven spiritual works of mercy.
One unique and most powerful way to pray for our loved ones is at Mass each Sunday (or each day). We are especially close to our dearly departed during each Mass. Think about it, each time the priest elevates the consecrated host at Mass, we are privileged to be worshiping directly before the King of the Universe and the Prince of Peace. Jesus’ very Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity are present before us. We are literally praising and worshiping God in our midst.
Yet, it is not only those of us on earth who give God praise and glory at that moment. The whole Communion of Saints also worships the exact same King of the Universe at that same moment.
While our eyes may only see the priest elevating the consecrated host before us, we are truly living and experiencing heaven on earth! All the saints and angels are praising God with, beside and around us. You are surrounded by a heavenly cloud of witnesses.
In the section, “Heaven on Earth” in my pastoral letter “Encountering Jesus in the Eucharist: Disciples Called to Worship,” I shared this: “In the Books of Hebrews (chap 12:1-2), we find ourselves ‘surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses’ — the angels and saints — ‘while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.’ We find ourselves in ‘the city of God of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering, and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven’” (pp. 22-23).”
So, if you miss your dearly departed loved ones, head to Mass and pray for them. When we get to heaven, we may find out that they were right there with us the whole time.
Throughout the rest of November, let us join with our heavenly brothers and sisters in Christ to continue to pray for peace in our world, especially in the Middle East and wherever war and violence are taking place. Let us pray in thanksgiving for the conclusion of the first Rome session of the Synod on Synodality and that we listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit as we prepare for the second Rome session in October next year.
Finally, let us pray for and with our dearly departed in Christ. May all the heavenly souls, who surround us and pray with us at each Mass, intercede for us and help us on our journey to the Heavenly Father.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.