I find it wonderfully providential that we celebrated our Parish Gala dinner last Friday on the Feast of the Faithful Departed. Even as we gather today, two days later, my memory, my mind and my heart are still full of names and faces of people I have known and loved everywhere, but in particular, the names and faces of those that we have known here at St. Mary’s, and who have left us. They are all “okay”. They are either with God, or on their way to God. And in a real way, they are with us. This recurring thought is a major source of consolation, hope, and joy in my life.
One of the things I love about our Church is that it isn’t just the sum of those of us in the Church who are still on this planet. Our real Church is the “communion of saints”, the sum total, together with us, of all those who have preceded us, and who will follow after us. The sum total of those who have “died in the Lord” and who now, in ways that aren’t fully revealed to us, “rest in the Lord”. They are with us. Those who are in a position to do so intercede for us. Those who are not actively interceding for us are, I believe, in a state of blessed, deep sleep, much like the sleep that we remember from our childhood, when we would close our eyes and fall into a sleep so deep that we didn’t budge all night. And upon awakening, wide awake, we felt as though we had just shut our eyes. Those who are awake are interceding for us. Those who are asleep are dreaming of us. In both cases, we have this certainty that nothing, nor anyone, can ever hurt them again. That is no small consolation.
And we are with them. We remember them. We can speak to them, tell them that we love and remember them, that we hope they are well, and that we are counting on their intercession. We are with them in a deeper sense. Like them, in our condition as believers endowed with the Holy Spirit, we already have a foot in heaven. The first letter of John says that “when God is revealed, we will be like him, because we will see him as he is.” 1 John 3,2 This resemblance begins now in us, in virtue of the Spirit that is in us and transfigures us.
On Friday, I invited our assembly at the Gala Dinner to remember with me, and to send up a collective, confident, happy “hello” to all our faithful departed from St. Mary’s. We lifted up not just our building project but the parish church that we are to their intercession. Let us continue today, in our gatherings, and all this Sunday long, to keep them present to us in mind and heart. Let us spend this day in their company, in the company of our faithful departed from St. Mary’s parish, and of all those we have known and loved and who have left us. Let us treasure this faith-certainty: they are okay. They are alive and well and living with God.
God bless, Fr. Guy