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Amen Corner - October 30, 2022

Autumn Leaves and All Souls

Often I have wished that the vibrant red, orange, and yellow leaves on the trees during autumn would remain all year. But soon the peak of the season passes, and the leaves desert the trees, and the limbs are naked and branches vulnerable to face winter’s uncertainty. As the earth (at least in the northern hemisphere) prepares to die to winter, the Church’s liturgies also ready the faithful for Christ’s coming. The Sunday Scriptures are filled with texts reminding us to keep watch for the unknown hour of death. Certain days, such as the Solemnity of All Saints and the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, are set aside to remember, to grieve, and to give thanks for those who have gone before us, and to remind us of the great hope that awaits.

Though the texts of readings and special liturgies focus on the dead during the fall and November, the Month of All Souls, the dead are prayed for during each Mass. Each Eucharistic Prayer has an intention for the dead; for example, in Eucharistic Prayer II, the priest says: “Remember also our brothers and sisters / who have fallen asleep in the hope of the resurrection, / and all who have died in your mercy.”

On November 2, the day the Church has set aside to remember and to pray for the dead, the Mass texts focus on the meaning and hope that Christ’s death and Resurrection has. For example, in the first option for the Prayer over the Offerings, the priest prays:

Look favorably on our offerings, O Lord,
so that your departed servants
may be taken up into glory with your Son,
in whose great mystery of love we are all united.
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

In many parishes with Latino populations, an altar is set up for the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed, on which photos and memorabilia of the deceased are placed. Parishes will honor the dead in a number of ways throughout the Month of All Souls. Parishioners may be invited to write names of departed loved ones in a book of remembrance, and a table or a picture board with 
photos of those who have died may be located in the narthex of the church.

May our remembrance of our departed loved ones bring them peace and deepen the faith we profess each time we say in the Creed: “I look forward to resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.”


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