November is, of course, the month of all souls, a special time of the year for us to remember those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith.
To mark this special month, as part of our opening prayer last night, instead of having the kids offer prayers of thanksgiving or petitions for needs, I asked them each to share the name(s) of loved ones who have passed away so that we could remember them in a special way this month.
We passed the candle and each of the kids mentioned someone dear to them. I began by remembering my Dad who passed away 12 years ago next month. One of the kids remembered a soldier – a native of Evergreen Park – who recently gave his life in service of his country. Most remembered grandparents. One girl remembered a cousin who just died within the previous week. Lucy, my aide, mentioned both of her parents. It was a very solemn moment and a moment for each of them to recognize that we are all touched by the pain of death.
I also taught them the prayer that Catholics pray for those who have died: “Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, AND LET PERPETUAL LIGHT SHINE UPON THEM.” We repeated that 3 times.
After the prayer, I briefly explained our understanding of the Communion of Saints and how these loved ones are still with us, separated by a “veil” between this life and the next and that we can still communicate with them, praying with them and for them. I mentioned how I occasionally have conversations with my Dad and Lucy added that she converses with both of her parents. I emphasized that for Catholics, this is quite normal and is not strange because we know that even death cannot truly separate us from our loved ones.
It made for a very prayerful beginning for class and helped to sensitize me and I’m sure each of the young people to the depth of feeling that each of us is capable of.