Ampleforth Abbey

14 December 2017

Homily for All Souls’ Day 2013

Most of us here, I imagine, will have particular people in mind as we celebrate this Mass for the commemoration of All Souls. Many of us will be remembering parents, family members and close friends. Some of us doubtless will be reflecting on the fact that our position in our family, or circle of friends, or quite simply our own advanced age means that this celebration has stopped being just another pious practice but actually has an edge to it because our own death has ceased to be a theoretical possibility some distance away and has become a reality which is daily closer to fulfilment.

In this context the celebration of All Souls begins to give some reassurance to us as we contemplate our own inadequacy. Most of us are acutely aware of how far we fall short of responding adequately to the invitation addressed to us by the Lord to follow in His footsteps so that we can make our way to that crucial encounter with the Father when we shall see Him as He really is. In this situation we rely more and more on the love of God for us, that love which saw His own Son embracing the reality of the Cross in order that the sins of mankind might be forgiven and we might be re-united to God. The Gospel tells us that the Father wants us to make our needs known to him; that He wants to hear our deepest desires; that He longs to be invited to act on our behalf. Today, then, we pray for those whom we love who have died. Let us pray also for those who have no one to pray for them. Let us pray that the Lord will forgive them their sins and welcome them into the presence of his Father. Let us pray also on our own behalf that we may be granted the blessing of a happy death – and that there will be people who will remember to pray for the repose of our souls in our time of need so that we, too, may be welcomed into the kingdom of heaven.