The month of November is dedicated to the memory of those who have died. It is a time for us to hold fast to the belief that when a faithful person dies, “life has changed, not ended” (Roman Missal, Preface for the Dead). Here is a 2017 article by Clare Coffey (bit.ly/CoffeyNovember) that reminds us that “[t]o mourn as a Christian is to hold both the fullness of loss and the promise of restoration at once.” You can listen to Marty Haugen’s rendering of Psalm 23, Shepherd Me, O God at bit.ly/HaugenShepherd. Psalm 23 is a psalm of comfort for many people in the face of suffering and death.
We begin the month with the Solemnity of All Saints (November 1), a day on which we recall all those people, saints named and unnamed by the Church, who exemplify for us the richness of a true Christian life, one of love for God and love for others. We remember these saints and also ask for their assistance as we strive to live with great love and their intercession with God on our behalf when we don’t live up to our calling. Click here and you can listen to the hymn For All the Saints, as well as view its lyrics. Read Pope Francis’ 2021 message on the Solemnity of All Saints, in addition to previous All Saints Day messages/homilies, here. You can read about the saints on a daily basis at the Franciscan Media website bit.ly/saintoftheday.
On November 2, and indeed throughout the month, we remember all those who have died. As Catholics, we place a particular importance on praying for those souls that may be in Purgatory, undergoing a final cleansing before entering the presence of God in heaven. You can read the Church’s full teaching about Purgatory in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#s1030-1032) at bit.ly/CCCPurgatory. You can also review the US Catholic Catechism for Adults on this same subject; go to bit.ly/USCCBPurgatory. The traditional hymn, Abide with Me, and Michael Joncas’ song On Eagle’s Wings, are songs that may give you hope in the midst of your experience of the loss of a loved one. You can listen to them at bit.ly/AbideKings and bit.ly/JoncasEaglesWings, respectively.
Ruadhán Jones has written a helpful article on the topic of All Saints and All Souls Days and offers, among other things, a few practices, such as visiting loved ones’ grave sites, which might help you to “reflect on your intimate connection” with those who have died. Mr. Jones’ 2020 article in The Synodal Times (a publication of The Irish Catholic, a weekly independent Catholic newspaper) is found at bit.ly/JonesNovember.
The Pixar animated film, Coco, centers on the Mexican holiday of the Day of the Dead, also celebrated at the beginning of November. At bit.ly/NGDayoftheDead, National Geographic provides a simple explanation of this holiday, which marks the importance of honoring our ancestors and helps us to remember that death is a part of life.BACK TO LIST