“Our dead are among the invisible, not among the absent.” ~Saint Pope John Paul II

Today we celebrate All Saints and tomorrow we celebrate All Souls. The whole month of November is dedicated specifically to remember, honor and pray for our beloved deceased. Lord, for your faithful people life is changed not ended. When the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death, we gain an everlasting dwelling place in heaven (Preface 1 for Masses for the Dead).

We know our dead are not absent because of the love we felt for them when they were alive, and the love still in our hearts after they are gone – the tears, and grief we experience is because of the love that is still alive in our hearts. Though we cannot see them, we believe that they are with us. (CCC 962)

I remember the first time this communion of saints was realized for me personally. There were times I would sit in Church and look at all the empty seats (especially the one next to me where my late husband used to sit) and I would think "if only these seats were filled". Soon after that I was told a story about those “empty seats”. A priest once said at a funeral that those seats aren't truly empty for when we gather, we gather in communion with the angels and the saints. In our presence are the angels and the saints filling in the "empty seats", praying with us. “Our dead are among the invisible, not among the absent” (Saint Pope John Paul II). You never know who you might have sitting next to you in church! 

Their love and prayers are more perfect than they ever were on earth – purified of all selfishness and only desiring the will of God.  "Those in heaven have been purged of all selfishness, and their love has become the love of God Himself. They watch over us with eager care and pray that we shall come to a good end" (Bishop Patrick Ahern,
Maurice & Therese).

As the Saints can pray and intercede for us so can the poor souls, but can we pray for them? Yes! What prayers can we offer for the Holy Souls, those souls who are in need of further purification?  The greatest prayer is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. “Let the love and compassion for your neighbor lead you to the holy table; for nothing is so well calculated to obtain eternal rest for the holy souls” (St. Bonaventure). 

We can pray the Rosary for the poor souls, and for those who are in the dying process consider praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Jesus said to St. Faustina "My daughter, encourage souls to say the chaplet which I have given to you. It pleases Me to grant everything they ask of Me by saying the chaplet. ... Write that when they say this chaplet in the presence of the dying, I will stand between My Father and the dying person, not as the just Judge but as the merciful Savior” (Diary, 1541). 

No prayers will be wasted; there are many souls who are forgotten, lost, or who have no one to pray for them.

May we all be renewed in our devotion to prayer for our beloved deceased, not only during this month of November, but every day. May we pray for those who loved us when we knew them here on earth and to those who still love us in heaven – even more perfectly.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord. And let the perpetual light shine upon them. And may the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

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