by Fr Brian Barry

photo-1450558415837-1f5e21a17709On Sunday, November 6, we will observe the double celebration of All Saints and All Souls.  In doing so, we are really looking at two sides of the same coin.

All Saints is a triumphant celebration of the Communion of Saints.  We remember those who have “finished the race” and now rest with Christ in triumphant peace.   We will celebrate Holy Baptism, welcoming new people into the fellowship of the Church.  This will be one of our festival days, and we will join together for one united service at 10:00AM.

In the evening, at 5:00PM, we come together again to celebrate the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed, often referred to as “All Souls.”  This is a Requiem Eucharist, with the major service music sung by our choir.  The term “requiem” comes from the Latin introductory prayer in this service, “dona eis requiem,” which translates “grant them rest.”  It is a solemn service in which we recognize the continuing reality of death and commend all the faithful departed into the grace and mercy of God.

It is curious for many of us to offer a service on behalf of those who have died.  What are we suggesting?  That we are somehow uncertain of the eternal destiny of our faithful loved ones who have died?  No.  As I see it, we are affirming four main things.  First, we are affirming that the love that binds all Christians together in one communion is stronger than death, so we continue to have a true, living relationship with those who have departed, which we express in our continued affection and prayers for these brothers and sisters.  Second, we are affirming that, while these loved ones are currently out of our reach, they are in the presence of God.  Thus, we commend them to his care.  Third, we believe that even now, God’s plans for them continue moving forward.  Thus, we ask for their “continual growth in his love and service” and eager wait and plead for the promised resurrection on the last day.  Fourth, as our participation in Holy Communion strengthens and nourishes our fellowship with Christ and, therefore, with all his people, we embrace the fact that our loved ones are not so far from us as they may seem; they are communicants with us, continuing as members of the Body of Christ.

But the service is not only for them, it is a blessing to us.  The very act of commending those we love into the hands of God, while proclaiming the good news of the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come, strengthens us in the midst of our pain and loss with faith, hope, and love.  The service is designed to give us time and space, in the music offered by the choir, the prayers, the proclamation of the word, and Holy Communion, both to grieve and to hope.

During the Eucharistic Prayer, we will pray through the “necrology,” a list of the names of family and friends who have died in the past year, who we specifically remember in this liturgy.  If you would like to add a name, please contact the church office by November 1.