This past week we celebrated the Feast of All Saints and the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed. These two celebrations together remind us of our own destiny, the promise of eternity, and the hope of enjoying the blessed vision of God’s presence forever in heaven.
During November, as the earth itself seems to be dying all around us, we take time to remember those who have gone before us “marked with the sign of faith.” We offer special Masses or prayers for the faithful departed, and some families have the custom of erecting small memorial shrines in their homes at this time of year. All of these devotions and customs point to our belief in the Resurrection.
Our faith proclaims that death is not the final end for us. We live, even if we die, because we have eternal life in Christ. In the Gospel the resurrection-denying Sadducees tried to trip up Jesus with a question about a tenet of faith that they did not ever adhere to. Jesus would not fall into their trap, proclaiming instead that the life of resurrection is different from existence as we know it on this earth. It is similar enough that we can describe it as “life.” But what its exact form and nature is, lies beyond our knowledge at this point in our existence. In these November days we may occasionally find our own practice of prayers for the dead challenged or called into question. We believe in a communion that goes beyond the limits of our earthly existence, which we acknowledge every time we profess our belief in the communion of saints. In that communion we are united with our loved ones and with all who believe in Christ.