Wednesday, November 2, 2011


It is All Souls’ Day—a time of commemoration of all those who have died, praying for them that they might enjoy redemption, healing, forgiveness and final transformation into children of light (and of the Light).

Is it morbid to see the skull-decorated altars of Mexico, or the “Bone Church” of the Cappuccini in Rome? Is there a connection to them with Halloween and our carved pumpkins?

The key here is self-understanding. In the crypt of Santa Maria della Concezione (aka, the “Bone Church”) there is a script (repeated in other churches throughout Italy) that allows the bones to speak to observers, saying (typically in Latin): “What you are, we once were; what we now are, you will become.” This is a direct and awesome slap in the face of reality, is it not? We all know that death and taxes are the only two guarantees in our life; do we really think it might happen to us, though—perhaps today?

If we were truly (and regularly) aware of our mortality, how differently might we live our lives? What that we think so critical to happiness now might be seen as irrelevant? Perhaps a re-reading of Luke 12:16-21 would help us (“You fool! This night your life will be demanded”)…

As Catholics, we believe our prayers can make a difference in others’ lives: here, and hereafter. Today of all days, we should concentrate on how we might make sacrifice for others (perhaps, also, for ourselves) and know that one day the “Day of the Dead” will be celebrated on our behalf.

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