A Reflection for the Month of November - Praying for the Faithful Departed
Growing up in a fairly religious environment, I remember gathering together with my family during the evening time to pray the rosary. Often the tempo of the prayer was fast, so I struggled to follow along. But, on particular occasions, when there was news of the death of a relative, a special invocation was added at the end of each rosary decade: “Chúng con cậy vì Danh Chúa nhân từ, xin cho Linh Hồn… được lên chốn nghỉ ngơi, hằng xem thấy mặt Đức Chúa Trời, sáng láng vui vẻ vô cùng. Amen.” This prayer was recited slowly and had a more solemn, somber tone. Although I did not grasp the full meaning at the time, I knew it carried a value much deeper and more profound than what was on the surface.
Looking back at this experience now as an adult, I appreciate the richness of the Christian Tradition and of the Catholic faith, in offering prayers for the faithful departed. The Church, in Her Wisdom, sets aside an entire month – November – to honor and remember those who have been called from this world. The realization that life on this earth is temporal can only be brought to the forefront when faced with the death of someone within the immediate circle of family and friends. There is a unique communion between those living and those who have passed away, often filled with mixed emotions of sorrow and pain and the hope of life everlasting with God in Heaven. The loss of a loved one can bring about an empty void in the heart, feelings of sadness in not seeing them again, and fond memories of past events. Yet, even after death, the bonds that people have with one another are not truly broken. It is mentioned in the Preface of Christian Death I at Mass: “Lord, for your faithful people, life is changed, not ended.” These relational bonds between the living and the deceased now transcend space and time. No longer is the love limited by physical elements, but it enters into a spiritual realm, preceding the way to Heaven’s glory.
What a beautiful tradition the Church has in praying for all the faithful departed! Through the celebration of Mass, prayers offered, sacrifices made, and penances completed in memory of the departed souls, they can be united with God in Heaven, and, then in turn, intercede for those still living on earth!
“Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine on them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.”