Days to Ponder
Nov 15, 2016
It's getting harder to wake up in the morning as the sun doesn't rise until after 7:00 am. The natural conditions make it easier to become reflective on death and dying in my morning prayers. I think this same experience drives the Church into these early November festivals of All Saints and All Souls day. On November 7 we celebrated with a Memorial Evening Prayer at 7:00 pm to remember our beloved departed and to encourage each other that there is something more than the experience of death. It takes a whole community to assure each other that there is more to the story of a person's life than what is in between a beginning and an end date on a person's stone. The feast of All Saints and All Souls bring our focus to what lies ahead for us, that there is a community formed in another dimension (or as Saint Pope John Paul II said: in another state of being) of all those who have passed before us.
It happens to regularly for me to discount that as a person approaches death he or she sees and sometimes even begins talking to a familiar soul who had passed away years ago. They will look very intently at a specific place in the room. As I look I see nothing nor hear anything, but often a conversation will take place. The more cynical might say that is is just a phantom memory re-emerging and the dying person is really just hallucinating, but as I say, it happens too regularly and with such sameness that I am led to conclude that in fact they have gained access to that next state of being. I will not know the truth of that until my time arrives, but until then I am part of a believing community that testifies to eternal life.
For us it all hinges on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Saint Paul will write that if Christ did not die and rise from the dead then we are the greatest of fools. We are believing in an emptiness that has no bearing. But if in fact he did die and rise again than we have the greatest truth to guide us. It is a truth that gives us hope and encouragement as we make our way through the challenges of daily life. This is the bedrock of our community and our existence. There are those in the community who think it is more important that we do good things, that we reach out to the poor and clothe the naked and feed the hungry than to think about the resurrection of the dead. But, in fact, anybody can do these things, and they certainly don't need to be motivated by Jesus' death and Resurrection. What make us unique is precisely that Jesus died and was raised from the dead and we are motivated to reach beyond ourselves in the hope of the resurrection for ourselves.
These are important days for us as they lead us to ponder those who have passed away before us. These days should also be leading us to think of our own futures when we too will be joining the Angels and Saints in and through Jesus Christ.