If Only For a Little While
Updated: Nov 27, 2019
Today is All Souls Day, the day on which we remember our loved ones who have gone before us. Our ability to remember is one of God’s greatest gifts to us. The word, remember, literally means to make present again.
Each year, on the first weekend in November, our parish gathers to celebrate a Mass of Remembrance for those who have gone home to the Lord, especially those who passed during the past year. On that evening, we place pictures of our departed loved ones, along with votive candles, around the sanctuary steps. As we support one another, the names of our departed loved ones are solemnly read after the homily. Then the community is invited to speak the names of others who have passed. On that evening, we make present again, if only for a little while, loved ones and friends whose memory we carry in our hearts.
Sharing memories of your loved one(s) with others who also knew them can “make them present again.”
How do you remember your loved one(s) who have passed? May I suggest this: sharing memories of them with others who also knew them can “make them present again.” Memory plays such an important part in our relationship with one another, and with God. Jesus relied on His disciples’ memory the night He made a gift of the Eucharist. He didn’t give them an instruction book; there was no liturgical manual as His legacy; He shared the moment with them and then simply said: “Do this in memory of me” [Lk 22:19]. Twenty centuries later, we share that same Eucharist because they kept the memory alive and it’s been passed down to us.
There’s a feeling that they’re present again, perhaps just beyond our touch - their face, their smile, a laugh that was uniquely theirs.
Through memory, our experiences with one another stay with us long after the events, and sometimes the people, have passed. Memories light the corners of our minds, as the once-popular song goes. Through God’s wonderful gift of memory, we can “see in our mind’s eye” the people of our past, sometimes vividly, sometimes only faintly. But always there’s a feeling that they’re present again, perhaps just beyond our touch - their face, their smile, a laugh that was uniquely theirs. We might recall a vacation we spent with them, a quiet dance, a simple touch. They’re all right here, ready for us to remember, to make them present again.
We hold the essence of memories in the crystal goblet in our mind, there for us to sip, again and again. And yes, sometimes painful feelings come with those memories too; especially with those with whom we still seek closure - so many seem to leave too soon. Time can carry away the results of both our great deeds and our stupid mistakes in this life. But the memories we built with those around us will endure. For, we are all builders of memories.
We are all connected with those who’ve gone before us in the sure and certain promise of Christ that we will see each other on the last day.
And, we are all connected with those who’ve gone before us in the sure and certain promise of Christ that we will see each other on the last day. As we hear in John’s account of Jesus’ parting words to His disciples, we are all called to share eternal life together with Him:
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you; just as you gave him authority over all people, so that he may give eternal life to all you gave him. Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ."
We hold dear to this promise. No matter the pain of loss we feel now, we know that eternal life is promised to all who live in Christ. So, in the end we will again be with our loved ones in the glorious presence of God forever.
The Church uses the name, Communion of Saints, to refer to that connectedness between us all; for all the faithful followers of Christ are “saints.” Those who have attained their reward in heaven can be personal intercessors for us. In God’s eyes, our loved ones and friends who are at His side are as much saints as those whose statues adorn St Peter’s Square. So, our connection with those whom we remember goes far beyond human memory, it goes to God’s very plan of salvation. Truly, we are all in this together.
Make your loved ones present again,
if only for a little while.
I invite you now to spend a few moments in quiet remembrance of the loved ones and friends who have gone before you. Make them present again, if only for a little while. And, if a tear comes, that’s ok, you’re among friends. You might not see us all, but we’re with you.
‘Till next time.
Dcn Bob Evans
November 2, 2019
Luke 22:19; John 17:1-3