Fr.Ferdinand, SVD (Eve of the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed 2019)
This is the Collect (Opening Prayer) for today’s Holy Mass in commemoration of all the faithful departed. (Note: There are three Collects for today because three Masses can be celebrated by a priest. This Collect is taken from the First Mass formulary).
Listen kindly to our prayers, O Lord, and, as our faith in your Son, raised from the dead, is deepened, so may our hope of resurrection for your departed servants also find new strength.
We have three petitions: (1)We ask the Lord to listen to our prayers, (2)We ask him to deepen our faith in the resurrected Son, Jesus, and (3) we ask Him to strengthen our hope in the resurrection of our dear departed loved ones, and all departed members of the Church.
1.We ask the Lord to listen to our prayers. Today, we come before the Lord to pray for our dead loved ones with that great confidence and assurance from the the First Reading. The book of Wisdom reminds us that: The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace. They are in peace with God for He has called them to Himself. But we need to pray for mercy and compassion on their behalf because not all of them died totally free from sin.
Since Heaven cannot admit any impurity, the Church today understands that God would have them chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself. As gold in the furnace, he proved them, and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself. This furnace has a purifying fire, a purgative fire. This fire could not be the fire of Hell because that would be the punishing fire. Thus, this can only be the fire of God’s mercy and eternal love that burns all unworthiness. We pray that our loved ones who had passed away be finally admitted into the very presence of God. After all, the Lord Jesus in today’s Gospel promises: Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me. May He not reject us, and may He not reject also those we commend to Him. Canon 3 of the Mass prays: To our departed brothers and sisters and to all who were pleasing to you at their passing from this life, give kind admittance to your kingdom.
2.We ask him to deepen our faith in the resurrected Son, Jesus. All Saints’ and All Souls’ day do not remove the focus from the Lord. In fact, these sacred feasts point very clearly to Christ. Saint Paul today in the Second Reading is very clear: we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, once reconciled, will we be saved by his life. The Saints and the Souls to whom we pray and pray for derive their salvation from the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. By honoring the Saints and commending the Souls to Christ, we profess as a Church that truly we live through Him, with Him and in Him.
In today’s alternate Second reading, this is made more understandable when Saint Paul says: We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life. For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection. Thus, through-with-in Christ, we shall all experience the pattern of salvation: If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him. His life and death is ours as well.
Since death could not touch Him anymore, all of us then, the living and the dead who were baptized in Christ would also be safe from eternal death. It is then our daily task to remain in Christ, and for those who passed away without having reconciled completely with Christ, we pray that the Lord will be merciful. The beautiful prayer in Canon 4 pleads: Remember also those who have died in the peace of your Christ and all the dead, whose faith you alone have known … there, with the whole of creation, freed from the corruption of sin and death, may we glorify you through Christ, Our Lord through whom you bestow on the world all that is good.
3.We ask Him to strengthen our hope in the resurrection of our dear departed loved ones, and all departed members of the Church. The beautiful responsorial Psalm 23 speaks so much about the eventual satisfaction, repose, safety, protection, banquet, and dwelling in Heaven.
This is the hope of Canon 1 in the Mass: Grant them O Lord, we pray, and all who sleep in Christ, a place of refreshment, light and peace. The Good Shepherd is the Lord Himself; the Risen Lord would not be peaceful until every sheep is accounted for. The Gospel affirms this beautifully: And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day. This is the “why” of this holy and sacred feast.
These three petitions of the Collect would help us in praying and orienting ourselves to the very core of our profession in the communion of the saints and the resurrection of the dead, all anchored in the Lord Jesus.
The Roman Martyrology teaches: “On this day is observed the commemoration of the faithful departed, in which our common and pious Mother the Church, immediately after having endeavored to celebrate by worthy praise all her children who already rejoice in heaven, strives to aid by her powerful intercession with Christ, her Lord and Spouse, all those who still groan in purgatory, so that they may join as soon as possible the inhabitants of the heavenly city.”
May this holy and beautiful day of commemorating all the faithful departed strengthens our convictions as a Church when we profess: I believe … the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting (Apostles’ Creed).
… and as we look forward to the resurrection of the dead, and to life in the world to come. Amen.
Finally, may the prayers of Canon 2 in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass ever inspire us to long and yearn for the true home and to see Him face to face, alongside the faces of those we love and would not be separated from us ever again. Remember also our brothers and sisters who have fallen asleep in the hope of the resurrection,and all who have died in your mercy: welcome them into the light of your face. Have mercy on us all, we pray,that with the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God,with blessed Joseph, her Spouse with the blessed Apostles, and all the Saints who have pleased you throughout the ages, we may merit to be coheirs to eternal life, and may praise and glorify you through your Son, Jesus Christ.
In hora mortis nostrae, Ave Maria!