The Solemnity of All Saints and the commemoration of All Souls which we celebrated the past days are included in a very special way, the faith in eternal life (the last words of the Apostolic Creed). These two days focus before our eyes on the inevitability of death and at the same time, a testimony of life. These are two great days in the Church that prolongs its life, in a certain way on the saints and all those who have prepared for this life by serving truth and love.

The day of Commemoration of the dead directs our thoughts particularly for our brothers who after leaving this world, expect to reach the fullness of union with God. We know that the communion with these brothers is not interrupted with death. We do not forget them after our farewell in the funeral liturgy. They have entered into the mystery of God. With the Church we pray for them. The intercession for our deceased Claretians, family and benefactors give meaning of our love toward them in our faith in the Divine Savior. In our intercession we remember them before God and establish a mysterious solidarity and communion. We put into action our friendship and experience hope and comfort.

United in Charity

We recall in this day of November for all those who have left us and in which we have joined various ties of faith, vocation, friendship, work, closeness and charity. Their passing leaves us hopelessly in a lasting feeling of loneliness and pain. It is that experience that Gabriel Marcel understood perfectly when acutely he said “the real problem is not my own death, but of the loved ones.” It is true: to die is only to die; but to see those who I love die is a mutilation to which human nature does not seem to be prepared.

The Constitutions of 1971, stated in simple words a true homage of charity toward those who preceded us. The text, although corrected, deserves to be remembered: “Our brothers who, after having worked in the vineyard of the Lord rest in Christ awaiting the resurrection remain united in intimate union of charity with us who still are on our journey. We are therefore obliged to pray to God for them and to honor them for their service.”

How should we proceed before the death of a brother, a family member or a benefactor? The Directory offers the indications in number 19 of our Constitutions. It outlines the actions that must be performed on those occasions: “To die a missionary is to bury them in the place where they have died and the funeral will be held as prescribed by the Constitutions, n. 19. The following masses in favor of the deceased will also be offered:

  1. a) For the deceased member of the Congregation, both professed and novices: Sixty masses for each deceased member from the community itself. If the members of the community cannot celebrate the masses, these will be offered by the Provincial or General mass collector. A mass will be offered on the first anniversary for each deceased of the community, if possible in a con-celebration liturgy. Four masses will be offered annually in each community for the deceased members of the Congregation in general.
  2. b) An annual mass in each community for the deceased parents of the members.
  3. c) When death occurs by the father or mother of one of our own, three masses in the community will be offered in which he or she resides by their sons.
  4. d) For our deceased benefactors a mass will be offered in each community annually” (Dir 54).

Why do we have to do this? What reasons impel us to particularize the proceeding details? What moves us to follow these requirements? The reasons are understood through recourse to the heart in harmony with one’s faith. We know that communion with our brothers is not interrupted with death. We do not forget them after the funeral liturgy. We enter into the mystery of God. With the Church we pray for them. The intercession for our deceased, Claretians, family and benefactors renew our love toward them in our faith in the Divine Savior. In our intercessions, we remember them, and establish a mysterious solidarity and communion. We put into action our friendship thus giving us hope and comfort

Sad at the loss of a loved one, family member or benefactor is sacred. Faith does not cure all the wounds, but clarifies some and until it’s mitigated when it is joined in hope. That hope, fortunately nailed in our hearts, certifies that the dead doesn’t completely disappear. Hope is not something that we manufacture with surges of desire, but one that is supported in the same center of human nature and enlightened by the faith in the resurrection of Jesus.

Who certifies that all this is not merely beautiful words? What certifies the love knowing that death is not the end of everything? What certifies – for us to believe the Gospel of life – Jesus is Lord that meets the two faces of reality and promises us that He will be waiting on the other side.

Since our faith is stubbornly maintained against all evidence, we welcome the assistance. We know that these are not tariffs imposed by God to grant happiness in heaven for a son who has died a sinner without a total purification. The Father is all grace, gratuity, mercy endearing and love. Our prayers do not have the objective of moving the Heart of God to mercy; rather it is the opportunity we have to express and act out our love toward our brothers and friends in the presence of God, which is the area in which any relationship among human beings is authentic, real and beneficial. It is therefore a sublime expression of community life.

In the majority of our communities it’s already common to offer daily prayers in the morning or afternoon for our deceased brothers when reading of the Necrologium. This beautiful and human gesture, in addition to keeping alive the memory of our brothers, show us that none of us after we are buried will be deleted from the Congregational memory. So our community goes through a list each year of all its deceased members to reinforce our fidelity and to appreciate them.

This custom – in its timely process- extend also to those who, for so many reasons of blood, missionary collaboration or charity, remain linked to us with ties that should never be forgotten. Our memory toward them, in an act of prayer and intercession, thus, becomes a tribute that clarifies and updates our recognition and gratitude toward those who we owe so much.