“Mostly we grow by falling apart.” – Mary Sharon Moore, spiritual director
Today is the Feast of All Souls. I am heavy-hearted but filled with hope. Maybe because I am, in recent years, more attuned to death and mortality. It is one of the many treasures we have in Catholicism – to pray for the dead, to honor them in the most indispensable and priceless manner.
For many, grief is merely grief. It is unwarranted, unwelcome, a burden that is impossible to lift. And, I suppose, this seems true to those without faith. I recently read on a popular secular grief writer’s social media feed that no one should tell the grieving to have hope.
It’s true, as the author of Ecclesiastes wrote, “To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.” We can’t help the wounded with platitudes we don’t mean or understand; likewise, we may harm them if we speak hope too soon or too rashly into their suffering.
Of course, grief is not merely grief. It is an invitation to search more deeply, more desperately for that “something greater” about which Jesus spoke. That is hope – a hope contained in the most unusual and unlikely place, our broken hearts.
All Souls’ Day reminds me that death is not the punctuation at the end of the sentence of life. To never speak hope into a grieving heart would be cruel. Only divine grace breathes new life into a weary soul, one that has given up, that feels lost or abandoned, that cannot see through the dense fog of death.
We pray. To those who do not believe in praying for the dead, this is a novel and radical concept. But to one who believes, it is everything. It means we gather with others who have lost loved ones and commemorate – together – names and faces and lives and personalities.
Every moment of every other day, we privately remember them. But today, they come alive again as we pray for them, share memories, visit gravesites.
Resurrections happen every day. For all the souls waiting in purgatory, we pray that today they may receive their eternal glory.
(c) 2020 Jeannie Ewing, all rights reserved. Image created on Canva.com