As Catholics, we are blessed. While death is never easy, because of our belief in our ultimate goal of eternal life with Christ, we know that it is never truly goodbye when our loved ones pass on.
The Feasts of All Saints and All Souls on Nov. 1-2, respectively, are the biggest reminders of that each year, as there is a profound connection between All Saints Day and All Souls Day.
“The Feast of All Saints’ Day connects us with the Communion of Saints. We gather around the altar with those who have gone before us who lived the faith so well in imitation of Jesus Christ,” said Bishop J. Mark Spalding. “It is a great consolation that those who have gone before us in faith, hope and love have gathered with us around the altar and are interceding for us even in this present time.
“Saints are there for us and with us. They are both heroes and mentors,” the bishop said. “We should take some time and effort to read about the lives of the saints to draw them closer to us and not allow them to become too distant.”
Upcoming Feast Days of Saints include:
• St. Martin de Porres, patron of mixed-race people and innkeepers, Nov. 3
• St. Martin of Tours, patron of the Third Republic, Nov. 11
• St. Elizabeth of Hungary, patroness of nurses, Nov. 17
• St. Cecilia, patroness of music and musicians, Nov. 22
• St. Andrew, patron of fishermen, Nov. 30
It is these and many other saints whom we commemorate on Nov. 1.
“All Saints’ Day is one of the highest feasts of the Church’s year” as it brings together the communion of saints, both those we know are in heaven like those listed above, and those that we hope and pray have made it through those heavenly gates,” said Father John Hammond, pastor of St. Patrick Church in South Nashville and Judicial Vicar and Vicar General for the Diocese of Nashville.
Since there is no way of knowing which of those souls who have not been recognized and canonized by the Church as saints are in heaven, the Feast of All Souls on Nov. 2, is the day we come together as a community to pray for our loved ones whom we hope are or will soon enter into the presence of God.
“There is a pious tradition of praying for the soul in Purgatory who is closest to heaven and the soul who is farthest from heaven,” Father Hammond said. “That’s a beautiful thing because your prayer just might be the one thing that pushes that person over the line and gets them the rest of the way to heaven.
“How grateful is that person going to be to you? Then you’ve got a saint who is especially indebted to you in heaven. What could be better than having a new friend in the spiritual order?”
As we prepare to celebrate these great feasts of the Church, both give us a glimpse into and represent the future we all hope for with God. “All Souls’ Day will likely be our feast day for a while, and we hope people will pray for us on that day in coming years and decades and centuries, as we’re finishing up the work of getting ready for heaven,” Father Hammond said. “But then, when the time is right and the grace of God and the prayers of our fellow believers have healed us from all that stands in the way, then, we will be able to graduate and the Feast of All Saints will finally, gloriously, be our feast day as well.”