Month-Long Novena for All Souls’

Categories: Features

Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice (Job 1:5), why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them –St. John Chrysostom

Dear friends of St. Jude,

A young man once asked Our Lord, “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?” (Matthew 22:36)  Our Lord gave the answer, the one and only answer that existed since the beginning of the human race and shall exist until the end of days: “You shall love the Lord God with all your heart and with all your soul, and the second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself.”

Let us look at these commandments in the Law in the light of the Holy Souls.  What do these commandments have in common, and why would God bind them so tightly together, that man could never separate them without risking his own soul?  It is this: That God is love, and love always, always seeks the good of the other for the sake of the other, God first, and then our fellow man, and love cannot rest until it finds peace and communion in that which it loves.  How much more purely can we do this than with the Holy Souls?  The Holy Souls can give us no worldly nor material recompense for our aid by prayers and sacrifices – we love, expecting nothing in return, love for love’s sake.

Now these two commandments are linked here especially with the Holy Souls because they deal with what we cannot see.  St. John tells us that “For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20).  We pray for our brothers and sisters whom we can no longer see in this life, because love is what overcomes our lack of vision.  Eye does not see, but the heart does.

Love compels us to pray and make sacrifice for them, because love will not let us rest until we are with the other — our beloved family, friends, brothers and sisters, all one, all at rest in God, the source of that love.  Love lives, even when the body dies!  This is why Our Lord says “Blessed are they who mourn” in His beatitudes – because we have His promise that love is stronger than death, and the object of our love, the one we love, yet lives.

So the month of Holy Souls is not simply a month of sorrow, but most truly a month of love, and a great witness to the power of love, made flesh in Christ, in seeking to save us from our sins and from ourselves.  Only in the next life will we truly understand the saying: amor vincit omnia – love conquers all things, yes, even sin and death.

Knowing all this, then, we can dare to hope, we can dare to love, and offer our prayers and Masses for all our faithful departed this month.  This is truly one of the most beautiful things of our Holy Faith.  Blessed be God!