The webpage of the Youth Ministry of the Irish Province of Augustinians

November - Month of the Holy Souls

As winter begins to take hold nature begins to go to sleep.  Trees and plants enter a state, not unlike suspended animation, in which they appear to have died.  This state of affairs is reflected in the Church's liturgy as the month of November is a time when the members of the faithful departed who have died are remembered.  Just like nature which we know will come to new life in the spring, so, those who have died in Christ will be brought to new life through the resurrection.  Certainly, these people have died but, paradoxically, we can also affirm that they have not died forever.  We can join with the author of the Book of Proverbs who says that "...they did appear to die".  They are no longer physically present to us or to our world.  However, our faith tells us that they have not gone to annihilation or destruction but to God's loving care.  As member''s of Christ's body throught Baptism they also share his resurrection.  This is at the heart of the famous question asked by St Paul: "Death, where is your sting?"

By rising from the dead Jesus has guaranteed us that death is not the last word.  In the words of the Preface of the funeral Mass: "...for them, life has changed, not ended."

At the heart of the commemoration of the faithful departed (Holy Souls) lies this affirmation of the resurrection which awaits those who believe in Jesus as the Son of God.

There is another very important aspect of this month dedicated to the Holy Souls.  Bereavement, grief and loss are among the strongest and most difficult experiences that any person can pass through.  Sometimes these events can change life completely or even inhibit the life of those concerned from moving on.  Nobody can ever take away the pain of loneliness.  Loneliness is intensely personal.  Great loneliness after a bereavement, while it may be a sign of having been loved much, is also a weight which is very difficult for many people to carry.  That is why, during this month, we try to help each other to carry it.  We cannot take away one another's loneliness but we can be lonely together and by doing this we become a strength for one another and by supporting one another we can continue to journey forward - together.

In the face of intense personal pain it is neither possible nor appropriate to offer facile answers - very often it is much more important to just be with one another and, when necessary, help one another to cry.

During this month of prayer for the Holy Souls it is important not only to remember those who have died but also to reach out to those whose life is made more difficult due to the pain of bereavement, loss and grief.


Article posted on 3rd of November 2012

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