All Souls’ Day at Catholic Cemetery
Jesus spoke some wonderful consoling words to the crowd in the Gospel today, words that give us comfort as we remember our departed loved ones at this Mass. Jesus says that the will of His Father is that everyone who sees Him, the Son, and believes in Him, may have eternal life and He will raise him on the last day. This is our faith. We believe that the Father’s will is our salvation, the salvation accomplished through Jesus His Son. And so, as we gather on this All Souls’ Day, as we pray our beloved dead, we do so with faith in these words of Jesus, with hope in His promise of eternal life, and with confidence in God the Father’s love for us revealed in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
As we remember our deceased loved ones, we are also consoled by the strong words of Saint Paul to the Romans that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. Not even death can separate us from His love. So, on this All Souls’ Day, we entrust the faithful departed to Christ’s love, the love that saves us, the love that is stronger than death.
We gather for this Mass today in our beautiful Catholic cemetery. It is not only beautiful because of the grounds, but because it is a holy place, a place of prayer, and a place of love. It is a place of love because here we remember with love those whose affection we have known in our lives, parents and grandparents, children and grandchildren, spouses, relatives and friends. The physical separation of death does not destroy the bond of love. Catholic Cemetery is a holy place because the ground and the graves here have been blessed and also because this is a place of prayer. No one buried or entombed here is forgotten. Now it is true that there are many buried here who are forgotten by those who knew them in this life, but they are not forgotten by the Church. We remember at this Mass everyone who is buried or entombed in this cemetery. In fact, the Church remembers in prayer at every Mass all the faithful departed, wherever they are buried. It is a beautiful spiritual work of mercy to pray for the dead. They are aided by our prayers in their purifying journey to heaven.
On this All Souls’ Day, we gather with special joy since we will have the Rite of Blessing of our Divine Mercy Funeral Home. This first Catholic funeral home of our diocese will also be a holy place. It will be blessed today. In the days and years to come, many prayers will be offered at Funeral Vigil services and many rosaries will be recited for the souls of the faithful departed in our new funeral home. And not only will we have in our Divine Mercy Funeral Home the spiritual work of mercy that is praying for the dead, but also the spiritual work of mercy of comforting the afflicted, consoling those who mourn. I hope and pray that many, many people, in the midst of their grief at the death of a loved one, will experience the love of Christ and His Church through the ministry of our funeral home staff. I pray that those who mourn will receive the Lord’s comfort and strength through the ministry of the Church at Divine Mercy Funeral Home.
Besides the two spiritual works of mercy that I’ve mentioned, praying for the dead and comforting the afflicted, there is a corporal work of mercy that is done here: burying the dead. We do so with great care. Part of this work of mercy is the proper care for the bodies of the deceased. Divine Mercy Funeral Home recognizes with the Church that every body that is brought here and prepared for burial is a body that was once washed in Baptism, anointed with the chrism of salvation, and fed with the bread of life, the Body and Blood of the Lord. And so Divine Mercy Funeral Home, in accord with Catholic teaching, will always show the utmost respect for the bodies of the deceased that are brought there.
Catholic Cemetery and Divine Mercy Funeral Home have an abundance of religious images, statues, and art. These images of Our Lord, our Blessed Mother, and the saints serve to remind all who come here that this is indeed a holy place, a place of prayer. They help us to lift our minds and hearts to the Lord and not to grieve the death of our loved ones like people who have no hope. Here in Catholic Cemetery and Divine Mercy Funeral Home, many will indeed grieve over losing their loved ones, but it is our mission to help them to grieve with the hope of being reunited with them. We desire to help those who are afflicted to find consolation, so that here they will be borne up by faith when they feel weighed down with grief. In their sadness and sorrow, I pray many will find healing and strength in the conviction of Saint Paul and of our Christian faith that nothing, not even death, can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We now continue with this holy sacrifice offered for our loved ones who have died and for all buried here in Catholic Cemetery. May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.