Thursday, November 02, 2017

Daily word, 02 Nov 17

Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed A (02 Nov 2017)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J. during the Spiritual Exercises
Affectionate Practice
When October 24 and April 10 come and go I feel something before I recognize it. Its texture has been somber; other years weighty. I have felt an ache; I have felt a subtle, insistent tug. This year assurance recurred. Those dates offer me a bittersweet peace. October 24, 2001, and April 10, 2010: my sister and I buried our parents. I feel their absence as each was with me; I also feel them present to me in new, more real ways. Their absent-presence, if I may join those words, shapes my reflection with you according to Catholic contours of practice and affection.

Praying for the departed faithful is an ancient practice of the church. The church prays “for all in Christian and catholic fellowship departed, even without mentioning… their names, under a general commemoration.”1 Each mass allows us, at once locally and universally, to plead for all the dead: Grant them, O Lord, we pray, and all who sleep in Christ, a place of refreshment, light and peace.2 

In time another practice emerged: a day to commemorate the faithful departed. An 11th-Century French monastery set aside the day after remembering all the saints to commemorate all the faithful departed. Its custom became universal practice.

Its logic is plain: the saints remain patrons of those who died. At the funeral and before we bury our dead, we invoke angels and martyrs to greet them on their way:
May the angels lead you into Paradise.May the martyrs come to greet you on the way. May they lead you home to the holy city, to the new and eternal Jerusalem.3
Affection for the dead is as nearly as ancient as Catholic practice. In ancient times much threatened care for the dead. Because of that a 5th-Century bishop wrote St. Augustine about caring for the dead. In replying St. Augustine frequently mentioned affection: the affection of the living for their loved ones and friends.4 Very significant, St. Augustine replied, is
where a person [inters] the body of [ones] dead…because both the affection [in life] chose a spot which was holy, and after the body is there...the recalling to mind of that holy spot renews and increases the affection which had preceded.5
Affection and remembering are intimately connected. Our affection chooses, and our remembering increases our affection. That is true throughout life not only after it.

Commemorating All the Faithful Departed involves not only our affection for and remembering our dead. It includes the Trinity’s affection for us and remembering us. When the Trinity remembers us their remembering surpasses our memory. When the Trinity remembers us Father, Son, Holy Spirit create us—create us each moment.

Jesus made divine remembering concrete by the affection he showed. Jesus shows deep affection for his disciples of every age by giving his body and blood. They nourish us on our pilgrim way through life6; they strengthen our shared identity as created in the divine image and redeemed to be saints.

Our share in his eucharist
  • recreates us;
  • keeps us closely connected with Jesus and one another, living and deceased;
  • and increases our affection for Jesus and one another, living and deceased.
The affection of our beloved dead abides with us; their affection for us cannot die; it increases and flourishes. Our prayers for the dead need not numb us to the ways they affectionately remember us; or their desire to present us to Jesus. One way to grow more sensitive to their affectionate desire is to pray like this: as we close our prayer for them, let them present us to Jesus, our Creator and Redeemer. Entrusted to him lovingly, speak with Jesus about the ways our beloved dead have presented us to him; how our affection chooses Jesus and Jesus’ affection chooses us each day we sojourn on earth.



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  1. St. Augustine, On the Care To Be Had for the Dead, 6.
  2. Eucharistic Prayer I. Each Eucharistic Prayer remembers the faithful departed with different wording.
  3. Order of Christian Funerals 176, 203, 294, 315, 339.
  4. On the Care To Be Had for the Dead. Seventeen times in its 23 sections: Sections 1; 5; 6 (3 times); 7 (4 times); 9 (3 times); 10; 11 (2 times); 22 (2 times).
  5. Ibid., 7
  6. Prayer after Communion, Order of Christian Funerals, 410

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Wiki-image Ancient funerary inscription PD-US Praying to God for Christian martyrs, saints, and all the faithful departed PD-Release

1 comment:

David Scott said...

This is really awesome, thanks for sharing. David Scott