I visited a grave this last Sunday. It was the right time to do it. After all we are coming up to All Hallows day (Festum omnium sanctorum), the day eve of which is celebrated by the world as Halloween. We in the historical Church know it as something else. It is the day we remember those who have died in the faith of Christ. It is traditionally celebrated on November 1, but as often happens; my Parish will observe it on the first Sunday in November instead.
So I stood there looking at my younger brother's stone. Written there we saw his name, his birthday, which I had celebrated all my life then the terminus. So limiting, so final, so unbending. I still can't believe the main companion of my youth lies there, cold and moldering under that stone.
It is often said that there is a boundary, set between the living and the dead. This week, before the Throne of God, we will remember all Saints and all Souls, reminding us of the entire Communion of Saints, of those we love, but see no longer. Our modern culture is all about the rush of Halloween and trick-or-treat, finding costumes, checking candy. But we dont want to forget the basis of this day, we must remember that vital portion of the Church, which is in the nearer Presence of God.
They are still members of the Church of Jesus Christ, from their position closer to God, they pray for us who are still struggling here on earth. We in turn pray for members of the Church suffering still here.
This year is especially difficult, because there in that numberless throng, is my younger brother, whose hand I held in April as he entered Eternity.
I do wonder from time to time what it must be like, that vast, numberless throng of Saints, from every nation, tribe, and people, standing before the Throne and the Lamb, clad in white robes, with palms in their hands.
At the central height of the Throne of God, is Christ, then our Lady, all nine Choirs of Angels, the Apostles and Prophets, the Martyrs in the crimson of their blood, and the white-robed Confessors. All are there who in this life followed Christ’s teaching: the poor in spirit, the meek, the afflicted, those who hungered and thirsted after justice, the merciful, the clean of heart, peacemakers, and those who suffered persecution for Christ.
There, among that awesome band is my beloved wife, my brother, many who have been close to us. And, I know there are those who were important to you readers of this blog. God has not forgotten your family and friends, not one of them! They now share in the glory of “the Lord, the King of kings.
That then is the Communion of All the Saints; that "great cloud of witnesses," and with them, we who are gathered here in on Earth gather around the Lord's table are all one Church, one Ecclesia, there is no separation from the love of Christ by mere Death.
Join with me (by posting the first names) in remembering those who we still love, but can no longer see:
Almighty God, as You have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical Body of Your Son Christ our Lord, so we remember:
my Wife, Grace
my Brother, Michael
my Grandparents, my wife's Grandparents
various Aunts & Uncles
Men I have taken care of at Hospice
Give us Grace so to follow these Your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those inexpressible joys that You have prepared for those who truly love You; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Who with You and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.