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The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls')

Wis 3:1-9 | Ps 23 | Rom 6:3-9 | Jn 6:37-40

Today’s Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed invites us to renew our hope of resurrection. Together, the Universal Church calls to mind our beloved friends, relatives, and ancestors who have died and profess a steadfast belief in their eternal life. It is a day of memories, heartbreak, mourning, celebration, and love.

Guided by profound wisdom from today’s Scriptures and liturgical texts, we dare to wonder: what might life after death be like? The first reading from Wisdom imagines life after death as peaceful. The dying process can be painful for many. Perhaps your loved one experienced physical pain at the end of their life from a terminal illness or horrific accident. Maybe they experienced the emotional pain that can come from reflecting on dreams unfulfilled. Whatever pain they may have carried on their deathbed, we can take solace in the belief that our loved ones are being held “in the hand of God.” God cradles our beloved dead. The author of Wisdom assures us, “They are in peace.”

Today’s second reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans imagines life after death as free from sin. No one dies entirely perfect. Perhaps your loved one never had the chance to say a final “I’m sorry.” Maybe they went to their grave without ever fully acknowledging the pain they may have caused another person. Maybe they suffered because of the sins of others.

Whatever the case may be, St. Paul describes the “newness of life” to come for those who have died. He exclaims, “We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin.” Sin and death do not have the final say. God shows mercy to our beloved dead. Saint Paul assures us that “a dead person has been absolved from sin.”

Prayer Over the Offerings

Be near, O Lord, we pray, to your servant N.,
on whose funeral day
we offer you this sacrifice of conciliation,
so that, should any stain of sin have clung to him (her)
or any human fault have affected him (her),
it may, by your loving gift, be forgiven and wiped away.

Finally, the gospel from John imagines life after death as eternity united with Christ. Death can be a time of reexamining faith. Perhaps your loved one had fallen away from the practice of the faith. Maybe they began to doubt the existence of God or had a difficult time feeling or experiencing God’s great love for them.

No matter where they landed on the faith spectrum during their time on this earth, Jesus asserts, “that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life.” God desires to be in relationship with our beloved dead. No one will be lost or left behind. As Jesus assures us in John’s gospel, “This is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what God gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day.”

Together, these readings depict a God who is perpetually present to our beloved dead—drawing them into the peace of everlasting life, freeing them from the bounds of sin, and uniting with them in a love beyond all telling. We can rest assured that our beloved dead are basking in the glow of divine light and love at this very moment.

Let us pray that someday we, too, will join them in the bright halls of heaven.


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