Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Light and Warmth: All Souls

While perusing Facebook last night, I marveled at how many posts from my friends in the fields of liturgy and music appeared. And all were focused on sharing the experience of their parish's All Souls Liturgy.

I remember well back in the mid-1980's when parishes really began to prepare these particular liturgies and celebrate them so well. At the parishes where I have ministered, we had a large basket of candles in the center aisle. As we recited the names of those who had died in the parish that year, their relatives and friends (we issued invitations to the surviving loved ones to the Mass) would pick up a candle, light it from the paschal candle, then place it in bowls of sand. Then people were invited to name those who had died, but had not been included in the list that we read. These people came forward after calling out the name of their loved one, lit the candle, and placed it in the bowl.

I will never forget the sense in the church once all candles had been placed in the bowls. The year that my sister died, I remember vividly the All Souls Mass at Saint Domitilla here in suburban Chicago. I was the substitute organist for the Mass and I had to wait until the end of the litany of the names, because I was playing softly as the names were read and spoken. So, the music stopped, I stood, and in the silence, my voice cracking with emotion, I quietly said "Joanne Gazzara." I lit my candle and found a place in one of the bowls, where so many candles had been placed. I will never forget the warmth I felt from those candles and the glow they produced.

I remembered Joanne and so many others yesterday, on our Catholic day of memorial. I hope that you know the light and warmth that memories of your deceased loved ones bring into your life.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

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