Last Oct. 29, the Philadelphia Phillies let the champagne flow (and spray) as they won their first World Series championship in almost three decades. Two days later the entire Philadelphia region shared in the outpouring of emotion with a parade of some 2 million souls that no one involved will forget.
So it is again this year.
The Phillies’ quest for another championship has only just begun so excitement among fans is running high. The first World Series home game will be played this Saturday night, Oct. 31. But the next day and the day after afford Catholics the chance to set aside time for a solemn remembrance.
The Solemnity of All Saints falls on Sunday, Nov. 1. On this day the Church celebrates those men and women recognized as achieving the holiness and closeness to God in this life to which we are all called at our baptism. From the first martyrs to today’s most recent saints, the people included in the canon of holy ones (canonized saints) inspire us to seek and follow God’s will for our lives, and grow closer to Him every day.
The next day, Monday, Nov. 2, the Church celebrates All Souls day, formally titled the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed. We remember the relatively anonymous holy ones who we’ve known and loved through the years. A spouse or parent, son or daughter, priest or religious, friend or acquaintance showed through their lives of truth and love how much God desires to be united with us in this life and in the next. And we pray for the “poor souls” departed from this world who have no one to pray for them.
These two days and indeed the whole month of November invite us to pray for the intercession of the saints led by Mary our Mother to Jesus our Lord and God. A fitting way to witness to the communion of eternal love that we share with the saints and our departed loved ones is to make a visit to a Catholic cemetery in November. Take time perhaps this Sunday to visit the final resting place of family and friends.
A rite by the United States Bishops’ Conference includes this suitable prayer to use when visiting a grave: (See the full rite.)
“Lord God, whose days are without end and whose mercies beyond counting, keep us mindful that life is short and the hour of death unknown. Let your spirit guide our days on earth in the ways of holiness and justice, that we may serve you in union with the whole Church, sure in faith, strong in hope, perfected in love.
“And when our earthly journey is ended, lead us rejoicing into your kingdom, where you live forever and ever. Amen.”