By Sister Mary Scholastica, O.C.D.
It seems as if every day something happens that deeply impacts or changes the trajectory of life for at least one person we know. Every day. It could be illness, a change in one’s job, a birth, graduation, getting married, receipt of some news, etc. How do you possibly remember it all? How do you accompany others as they process life-changing events? For some, processing something significant in one’s life takes weeks, for others, months or even years.
And the biggest change in life is death. All Souls Day, which we commemorate today, invites us to remember all those who have died. We consciously take the time to stop and remember to pray for their souls. In doing so, we can’t help but also remember those who are grieving the loss of their loved ones.
In these last two years, not tied to covid, we lost eight sisters. Our sisters also lost loved ones. As a community, many of our friends returned home to God. There was loss all around us. Yet the world continued to go round and round. The question I’ve been pondering is how to accompany others who are suffering in this way so that they feel and know that we are truly walking with them through the grieving process – the whole grieving process, not just a moment’s time. Many of us have heard it said that it’s after the funeral, when everyone goes home that the daily absence of a loved one is felt most sharply. Coping with something as significant as this can take a lifetime. It’s difficult enough to struggle to live our own lives and to consciously remember to support others in their suffering as they experience grief and loss – this takes energy and intentionality.
Yet, how crucial remembering and accompanying is to living life for God and others. When we remember our beloved dead, we remember what they taught us, we remember who they were, we remember the struggles and blessings and thank God for them. In remembering to pray for their souls, we are seeking their ultimate good, eternal happiness. This is something we can’t ever forget to do!
Our family and friends who are suffering the loss of a loved one, are suffering from the greatest loss in life as it’s irrevocable. In remembering them, and consciously journeying with them most especially when others forget as time marches on, we are offering one of the greatest gifts we can give. That of presence and accompaniment.
After my own prayer and reflection, I’ve landed time and time again on the one thing we can do. We can live the one day given to us – today. Fully live it with intentionality and open to the good Lord’s promptings. So today, on All Souls Day, He invites us to remember our loved ones who have died, all the souls who have no one to pray for them and to remember our neighbors who have lost loved ones during this time.
St. Teresa of Ávila reminds us: “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which He looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which He blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are His body.”
This All Souls Day, be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Your act of remembrance, presence and accompaniment will be our good Lord moving through you to bring comfort and compassion to those who mourn and lifting up the souls of the departed that they may at last see God face-to-face. In doing this, you are a reflection of His Heart wounded for boundless love of us.