THURSDAY THE SECOND OF NOVEMBER
* All Souls *
Merciful Father, hear our prayer and console us. As we renew our faith in your son, whom you raised from the dead, strengthen our hope that all our departed brothers and sisters will share in his resurrection, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Requiem aeternam dona eis,
et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Requiescant in pace. Amen.
CANTICLE ( modernised )
Lead, kindly Light,
amid the encircling gloom,
lead me on!
The night is dark,
and I am far from home;
lead me on!
Keep my feet;
I do not ask to see
the distant scene;
one step enough for me.
I was not ever thus,
nor prayed that you
should lead me on;
I loved to choose
and see my path;
but now lead me on!
I loved the garish day,
and, spite of fears,
pride ruled my will.
Remember not past years!
So long your power has blest me,
sure it still will lead me on.
Over moor and fen,
over crag and torrent,
till the night is gone,
and with the morn
those angel faces smile,
which I have loved long since,
and lost awhile.
along the narrow rugged path,
yourself has trod,
lead me home in childlike faith,
home to my God.
To rest forever
after earthly strife
in the calm light
of everlasting life.
( John Henry Newman and Edward H. Bickersteth, Jr. )
MEDITATION by Tim Madsen
The souls of the saints
Today Saint Laika’s remembers all holy souls, the counterpoint to All Saints Day, which we celebrated yesterday. In the Roman Catholic and Anglican tradition saints have the benefit of official review and blessing, while All Souls refers to the ordinary women and men who were members of families, and our friends who lived and died as we all must. We might say their eternal destiny is known to God alone.
Perhaps these verses from the apocryphal "Book of Wisdom" can set the tone for us:
"Wisdom," chapter three, verses one to three says:
"But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them. In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died, and their departure was thought to be a disaster, and their going from us to be their destruction; but they are at peace."
Can we dare hope that all souls are with God? Or is Heaven only for the few, while most are deprived of God’s eternal presence?
Let me suggest that we can answer those questions with two more questions. Is Christ a saviour? Is he any good at doing his job?
No saint, no matter how famous or holy, enjoys eternal life without the saving work of Jesus Christ. No holy soul will get there by any other way either. I want to say, at this point, that this is the Christian claim, supported by the holy texts of the "New Testament." It is not meant, in any sense, to be an exclusive claim, in the sense that only Christians will get to heaven. Christian teaching at its best understands that salvation is for all, since, as "Psalm Twenty-Four" says so well, “The earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it.”
If Christ saves only those who are easy to save, what kind of saviour is he? Is it reasonable to believe the claims the Christian church makes about Christ if his “success rate” is ten percent, twenty percent% or even fifty percent? The basis for our hope that all souls live, is that Christ is an effective saviour, doing the work he came to do. I have found it to be true that we humans condemn people to hell far more easily than a loving God does.
On this All Souls Day, ponder this thought from Martin Luther:
“If you are a preacher of grace, then preach a true, not a fictitious grace; if grace is true, you must bear a true and not a fictitious sin. God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly. For he is victorious over sin, death, and the world.”
... for peace in the world.
... for the faithful departed.
... that our own death will be made bearable by the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit and that our resurrection will be glorious.
... for journalists and other media workers; for their safety as they work to bring us "authentic" news. DETAILS
... for those killed or injured when a gunman upend fire in a store in Thornton, Colorado and all victims of random acts of violence. DETAILS
... for those who have died and for those who mourn their passing.
... for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.
... for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.
... for ourselves.
THE LORD'S PRAYER
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
From a book on the death of his brother, Satyrus, by Ambrose of Milan:
We see that death is gain, life is loss.
Paul says, "For me life is Christ, and death a gain."
What does “Christ” mean but to die in the body and receive the breath of life? Let us then die with Christ, to live with Christ. We should have a daily familiarity with death, a daily desire for death. By this kind of detachment our soul must learn to free itself from the desires of the body. It must soar above earthly lusts to a place where they cannot come near, to hold it fast. It must take on the likeness of death, to avoid the punishment of death. The law of our fallen nature is at war with the law of our reason and subjects the law of reason to the law of error.
What is the remedy? "Who will set me free from this body of death?"
"The grace of God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord."
We have a doctor to heal us; let us use the remedy he prescribes. The remedy is the grace of Christ, the dead body our own. Let us then be exiles from our body, so as not to be exiles from Christ. Though we are still in the body, let us not give ourselves to the things of the body. We must not reject the natural rights of the body, but we must desire before all else the gifts of grace.
What more need be said?
It was by the death of one man that the world was redeemed. Christ did not need to die if he did not want to, but he did not look on death as something to be despised, something to be avoided, and he could have found no better means to save us than by dying. Thus his death is life for all. We are sealed with the sign of his death; when we pray we preach his death; when we offer sacrifice we proclaim his death. His death is victory; his death is a sacred sign; each year his death is celebrated with solemnity by the whole world.
What more should we say about his death since we use this divine example to prove that it was death alone that won freedom from death, and death itself was its own redeemer? Death is then no cause for mourning, for it is the cause of mankind’s salvation. Death is not something to be avoided, for the son of God did not think it beneath his dignity, nor did he seek to escape it.
Death was not part of nature; it became part of nature. God did not decree death from the beginning; he prescribed it as a remedy. Human life was condemned because of sin to unremitting labour and unbearable sorrow and so began to experience the burden of wretchedness. There had to be a limit to its evils; death had to restore what life had forfeited. Without the assistance of grace, immortality is more of a burden than a blessing.
The soul has to turn away from the aimless paths of this life, from the defilement of an earthly body; it must reach out to those assemblies in heaven (though it is given only to the saints to be admitted to them) to sing the praises of God.
We learn from Scripture how God’s praise is sung to the music of the harp: "Great and wonderful are your deeds, Lord God Almighty; just and true are your ways, King of the nations. Who will not revere and glorify your nature? You alone are holy; all nations will come and worship before you."
The soul must also desire to witness your nuptials, Jesus, and to see your bride escorted from earthly to heavenly realities, as all rejoice and sing: All flesh will come before you. No longer will the bride be held in subjection to this passing world but will be made one with the spirit.
Above all else, holy David prayed that he might see and gaze on this: "One thing I have asked of the Lord, this I shall pray for: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, and to see how gracious is the Lord."
Father of all, we pray to thee for those we love, but see no longer: Grant them thy peace; let light perpetual shine upon them; and in thy loving wisdom and almighty power, work in them the good purpose of thy perfect will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
NOW LIGHT A CANDLE
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