In Catholic parishes, the sacraments give rhythm to our lives, along with the days, weeks, months, and years of the liturgical calendar. Yet, even as the liturgical calendar punctuates our daily lives, the forward movement of time can feel deeply impersonal. Parish life, however, offers ways of accompanying universal experiences—even ones as complicated as death and grief—with tender rituals and personal touches. Throughout the month of November, we focus on death and grief as common human experiences through which God and parish companion us. Ministers and fellow parishioners accompany each other through moments that matter, even when those moments are hard.
Today the Church observes the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, better known as All Souls’ Day. The entire month of November is dedicated to remembering, honoring, and praying for all who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith, entrusting them to God’s mercy and love.
“Perhaps however joy is the outgrowth of suffering in a special way.”
Flannery O’Connor (The Habit of Being, 527)
I wanted to be common like bread:
so when the struggle came she wouldn’t find me missing.
These lines from Pablo Neruda’s poem “Nothing More” were etched on a plaque, as a tribute to my late father, Denny, by a close friend of his. It hung on the wall of their local watering hole where my dad had gathered often with friends, colleagues, and strangers to recount the day or sometimes to forget it.