Wednesday, October 30, 2013

All Saints Day--A Time to Remember

"For all the saints
who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith 
before the world confessed,
Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest,
Alleluia! Alleluia!"
 --William W. How, 1823-1897

Mary Jo Bang wrote after the death of her son: "You are the brightest thing in the shop window And the most beautiful seldom I ever saw."  I don’t know a better way to get at All Saints Day than these sad and powerful words. I have told my Grief groups that one of the things that saves us is gratitude. Remembering...Remembering...Remembering.

I know that it doesn’t last long enough. I know we wished with all our hearts there was more than there has been. You have told me that there are days so hard that you just don’t think you can make it. But on this All Saints Day the Church has called out the names of those that have died this year “believing that there is a prayerful spiritual bond between those in heaven and the living.”  But it just isn’t those that slipped into the mystery this year. This is a day for fondling the rosary of every name and every face that shaped you and made you smile.

You might spend the day just thinking of him or her or them. You might stare at some picture or open some album and remember. There is a good grief and a poor grief. When we say a Doxology over those who have changed our lives—we grieve, “but not as those who have no hope.”

At most of the funerals I have conducted the last few years I have leaned on that wonderful Benediction which comes from the Roman Catholic Prayer for the Dead. 

"Into paradise may the angels lead them; at their coming may the martyrs take them up into eternal rest, and may the chorus of angels lead them to that holy city, and the place of  perpetual light." Amen.

(The painting at the beginning of this piece is from Fra Angelico, 15th Century artist.)    

(Sojourners blog published these moving pictures of All Saints Day that come from the Guardian--you might want to view them. Great and very moving.) 


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