In the current circumstances, the month of November and the particular remembrance which we make of our deceased will have added poignancy this year as we recall those who have died and continue to die during this pandemic.
Certainly here in Italy, and also in the UK and throughout the world, the death of loved ones and the need for families to celebrate funeral liturgies in only the most basic and sometimes rushed manner, has added pain upon pain.
Parishes will rightly take the opportunity of holding memorial services during this month, though the arrival of a second peak means that while our churches are still open and we are thankfully still able to celebrate public Masses, we are not in the position of welcoming all-comers in ways in which we would normally desire to do.
It is important to remember, however, that November opens with a celebration not of darkness and despair but of light and expectation – the Solemnity of All Saints is a rich and beautiful proclamation of the light which shines in the darkness, or perhaps more properly the lights that shine in the darkness.
The position of the saints both in our liturgical remembrance and our personal devotion is not to be understated. They inspire and teach and encourage us on the path of holiness, a call extended to each and every one of us, regardless of age and gender, background or vocation. We are all called to what the Preface of All Saints describes thus:
‘the festival of the heavenly Jerusalem our Mother, where the great array of our brothers and sisters already gives you eternal praise. Towards her we eagerly hasten as pilgrims advancing by faith, rejoicing in the glory bestowed upon those exalted members of the Church through whom you give us, in our frailty, both strength and good example.’
We mourn with those who mourn, we weep with those who weep – but we experience and express these most human of emotions always sustained and with the Christian vision which underpins all our longing, our hoping and our loving
Why look among the dead for one who is alive. He is no longer here, he is Risen! (Luke 24:5)