November begins with trick a treat, ghosties and ghoulies and things that go bump in the night, fearful horrors and a general election! The month begins as we remember the saints and pray for the souls of the departed. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews reminds us that we are “encompassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses.” Hebrews tells us that the great saints and heroes of the past are not just dead people we remember as examples, but living people who surround us on our journey of faith.

Of course our Lady and the saints are not substitutes for Jesus. Again Hebrews reminds us that the cloud of witnesses who surround us all the time are there for us as we “run the race” of faith, but that we are to “look towards Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” In a real sense the saints are looking in the same direction as we are, but they see clearly while we see “puzzling reflections in a mirror.”

It’s always good to have clear sighted people around to help if we can’t see very well or are blind. We stumble; they pick us up.

The saints who surround us, guide us and pick us up are not just those holy women and men we commemorate with special days. They are our loved ones who we can’t see, but who have gone on before us. We say they are dead. That’s a frightful insult. They are more alive than we are. Much more alive. They are now made perfect in Jesus because he died on the Cross and rose again, and conquered death for ever. Look at the cross or crucifix in your parish church. Marvel that Jesus died for you and that you are now a saint in waiting, adopted by God.

Why do we pray for the departed? Well we don’t pray that they may be “saved”. Jesus has done that. In a real sense it is better to say that we pray with them and that they pray with us. That is why we say at every Mass, “Therefore with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven…”

If your parish has an All Souls’ Eucharist be there and say a special “hello” to those who you love but see no more. You will be telling them that you haven’t forgotten them, that you think of them, give thanks for them and value their continued love and presence in your lives.

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