Today is a special day to remember and celebrate all those special people in our lives who now (to borrow a wonderful phrase of liturgy) “celebrate with us, but upon another shore and in a greater light.”
Yesterday was All Saints Day. Today is the lesser known companion feast of “All Souls Day” or the “Feast of the Faithful Departed.” The collect for this day contains one of the those small phrases of liturgy that can so easily be passed over, but sometimes just do not…
God, the Maker and Redeemer of all believers: Grant to the faithful departed the unsearchable benefits of the passion of your Son; that on the day of his appearing they may be manifested as your children; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Whereas All Saints Day is more corporate and global and historical, celebrating “that vast multitude that no one can number,” the emphasis during All Souls Day is more personal, intended to honor a particular loved one or small set of intimate loved ones.
I’m not at all sure why exactly, but for some reason I’ve have been led to rediscover two other collects that at certain times have caused me to stop in my track, taking my breath away. Those times have are remembered for the blessing of hearing those prayers, said just in the right way and just at the right time, when the loss was overwhelming and I was in desperate need of some comforting assurance.
One is from the “Additional Prayers” that appears toward to the end The Burial for the Dead:
Father of all, we pray to you FOR THOSE WE LOVE, BUT SEE NO LONGER: Grant them your peace; let light perpetual shine upon them; and, in your loving wisdom and almighty power, work in them the good purpose of your perfect will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
There is another collect equally moving. Actually, it is heard not only in funeral services but often near the time of death of a loved one. As I’ve written in this blog, it cuts straight to the soul. It is a commendation for someone departing the “here and now” for the “There and Ever After.” It is a commission of sorts, an offering into God’s perfect providence a dear person who will be dearly missed:
Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant (Name). Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive (her) into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light.
Today’s “Feast of the Faithful Departed” is often celebrated by such things as listening to music that a special loved one really enjoyed, or preparing and savoring the food they found especially satisfying, or maybe wearing an article of their clothing, or carrying a personal item they treasured.
Whether it is by any of these special activities or simply pausing for a meaningful moment of reflection and gratitude, may each of us — on this “All Souls Day” — be granted the good Grace to reflect upon those bountiful gifts of Grace that we received from those lovely and loving special persons “whom we love but see no longer.”