“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:40)
On the Catholic Church calendar, yesterday, November 2, 2015, was the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed; also known as All Souls Day. The Beverly Catholic community celebrated an evening Mass of Remembrance for all the deceased members of the three parishes in the city: St. Mary, Star of the Sea, St. Margaret of Scotland, and St. John the Evangelist. The Mass was celebrated at St. Mary’s, with our pastor, Father Mark, our parochial vicar, Father Karlo, and one of our two deacons, me! St. Mary’s is one of those 19th century churches that no one can afford to build anymore; with a high vaulted ceiling, beautiful stain glass windows, and an impressive sanctuary.
We had a good turnout of parishioners from all three parishes. St. Mary’s choir beautifully provided music for the service. I proclaimed the Gospel reading, which was taken from Matthew 11: 25-30. Father Mark then gave a very moving homily. After the homily, he read a roll of those from the Beverly Catholic community, who passed away since November, 2014 till now. Every votive candle in the church had been gathered in front of the sanctuary; as a deceased person’s name was announced, a candle was lit. Should a member of the deceased’s family, or a close friend was present; they were invited to light a candle. Soon, the majority of the candles were lighted, quite a few family members had come up.
A couple of years ago, my mother had passed away; I was an ordained deacon, and I preached at her funeral Mass. I took as my text, John 14: 1-14 (I think). I focused on John 14: 2-3: “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.” I focused on the theme of pilgrimage; that from the moment we are born, the moment we are baptized, we begin a pilgrimage; a journey of exploration as to what it means to be an adopted child of God the Father. And this pilgrimage does not end when we die, but it becomes a journey of purification; helped by the prayers of the loved ones we left behind. Our pilgrimage will end when we finally reach the place that Jesus Christ has prepared for us; and we are in the Holy Presence of our God.
All Souls Day expresses our hope, that those who have gone before us will find the final destination of their pilgrimage soon. And that they will be praying for us, when we ourselves will begin the next leg of our own life journeys.