The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed
The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed is a day set aside to remember ordinary saints – our family members and friends – whose lives and witness deeply touched our own. In the Philippines, it is a time devoted to family and coming together to remember those who have passed away. In México, families welcome back the souls of their departed loved ones for a brief reunion that includes food, drink and festivities. The deceased are revered guests at these celebrations and honored with their favorite foods and other offerings at gravesites or on ofrendas (altars) built in homes. In countries like Brazil and India, rituals are usually more somber than celebratory. Candles are lit at graves, and flowers add color to otherwise achromatic cemeteries.
Regardless of culture and country, this is a day to acknowledge the bond of union that encompasses both us and our departed loved ones who make up the living Body of Christ. We abide in hope knowing that what awaits us in the end is not only being in the presence of God (the theme of the reading from Wisdom) but also being in everlasting oneness with those who we loved dearly, but lost in death.
WISDOM 3: 1-9
The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them.
To the eyes of fools, they seem to be dead; their passing away, thought of as defeat
and their going forth from us, utter destruction – but they are at peace!
For though, to mortals, they may have suffered punishment, their hope is in life everlasting;
and after a time of trial, they will be greatly blessed, because God has tested them and found them worthy.
God purified them like gold in a furnace and found them as acceptable as a whole burnt offering on the altar.
When their time of judgment comes, they will shine, and dart about as sparks through chaff;
They will be appointed as judges and leaders over all nations and peoples, and the Holy One will be their Sovereign forever.
Those who have put their trust in God will understand this truth, and the faithful will abide in God’s love.
These are God’s chosen ones, and grace and mercy belong to them.
- How do you understand everlasting life? How has your culture and spiritual traditions shaped the way you think of the afterlife?
- Do you feel you have an intimate connection with someone in your life who has died? Describe the connection. Is this bond of union stronger or weaker in death?
- How would you like to be remembered as an LGBTQ person or ally? What does it mean for you to die well as an LGBTQ person or ally?
- How is the power of the resurrection at work in you today (forgiveness of sin, honor, glory, power, peace, righteousness, deliverance, healing, authority and dominion)? How do you own or give witness to these blessings as an LGBTQ person or ally?
- How do you mourn for or remember the dead? How would you plan your own memorial service? What elements of your LGBTQ or ally identity would you include in your liturgy?
- Many of our ordinary LGBTQ saints suffered untimely deaths because of violence, war, migration, or suicide. How can you include these saints, who you may or may not know, in your ritual of remembrance today?
Merciful and gracious God,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,
You connect us to each other
in your wondrous cloud of witnesses.
Remember us to our loved ones
who have died and gone before us
and who are with you – safe, at peace,
and found worthy and acceptable to you, O God.
May your grace and mercy belong to them;
may your light shine upon them –
and as they rest in everlasting love,
may they inherit your glorious Reign,
which you have prepared for them
from the foundation of the world
– Dwayne Fernandes
Disney/Pixar’s animated film Coco brings to life the wondrous beauty of the culture and spiritual traditions of the people of México. In honoring El Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead), the film explores an aesthetic theology of life, death, and the afterlife in rippling color and stunning imagination.
Remember Me, one of the most endearing songs of the film, invokes thoughtful questions about the significance of memory. Why should we remember? What do we lose by forgetting? And perhaps most importantly, how do we remember the difficult things of life without forgetting the good of God’s creation in the process?
Travis Atreo covers Remember Me in the video below.