Feast of All Souls’ Day

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2 November 2018

Today is one of the days where we realise our distinctiveness as Catholics. We are different most obviously from the skepticism of our surrounding Western culture but also from many of our fellow Christians.

Many of us have had the odd experience of attending a funeral of an atheist or agnostic. On more than one occasion I have noticed what appears to be strangely ‘magical’ thinking.

I once heard the secular celebrant intone: “This person will be remembered forever.” But if the atheists are right, the person definitely won’t be remembered forever. In 100 years’ time will anyone remember? Unlikely. After 1000? Who do you remember from then – William the Conqueror? Anyway, in a few billion years’ time Earth itself will be gone.

Confronted with the reality of death, the postmodern mind retreats into self-deception.

Our Protestant cousins rightly hope for their loved one’s salvation but they believe that there is nothing now that they can do for them.

But we can.

We can pray for them. Ultimately the state of a soul at their death is known only to God but we can go before the Lord seeking their release from purgatory. We can do this for the recently deceased but equally we can pray for long dead. After all, they are now all equally outside of time. And when they attain the vision of Christ, they powerfully pray for us. There is, as TS Elliot once said “An easy commerce between the old and the new.”

We know that the thinnest of membranes separate us. So today of all days let’s pray for the dead; for family and friends and let’s also remember the ancient tradition of praying for those with no one to pray for them. And for those of us not yet saints, remember that we too need the prayers of the dead now that they are alive in Christ.

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