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November: A time for Remembering our Departed Loved Ones.

A time for Remembering our Departed Loved Ones.

Native American tribes are renowned for their elaborate and colourful quilts. Often the memories of the tribes are woven into large quilts used in religious ceremonies indeed these native peoples are believed to be among the best quilt makers in the world. What many people do not know is that they have a custom governing the art of quilting: every quilt must have some flaw. Even when they could easily produce the perfect quilt, they go out of their way to introduce a flaw into it. Since the quilt for them is a representation of human life and the human condition, the symbolism is clear: no human life is perfect. In a way, the feast of All Souls that we celebrate on November 2nd and continue to remember throughout the month echoes the same message: no human life is perfect, not even the Christian life. The Good News that we celebrate today and every day is that God loves us even when we are not perfect, and that the love of God does not abandon the souls of our departed loved ones even when they did not fully measure up to the ideals of Christian perfection

A significant part of this long-standing tradition is the practice of having a Mass celebrated for the repose of the soul of a beloved deceased person. In this holy remembrance, we both pray for the dead and affirm our solidarity with them in Christ through the Eucharist. Our faith in the communion of saints is nothing less than our belief in the enduring power of God’s promise, the life-giving gift of the Holy Spirit and the unity we all share. We are all in some way already one with each other through the grace of God’s life within us – whether we are still enjoying the life god gives us here on earth or already enjoying the glory of the vision of God.

In an earlier age, before the Christian era, the classical Roman practice for concluding a funeral service included the salutation “ave atque vale” – hail and farewell. It symbolized the last greeting and then the departure of the deceased into an “everlasting sleep.” However, that last greeting was unbearably sad. The deceased just passed beyond all hearing – in fact all being. Our faith calls us to a belief that life exists after death. Christ is risen from the dead and so, too, shall we rise. The pledge of everlasting life is a part of our heritage. As the prayer for the Mass for the Dead relates: “When the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death we gain an everlasting dwelling place in heaven.”