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At All Souls’ Day Mass, Arlington bishop implores prayers for the faithful departed

November 2, 2022 Catholic News Agency 2
In commemoration of All Souls’ Day, Arlington Bishop Michael Burbidge celebrated Mass at a Fairfax cemetery and blessed the gravesites of the priests buried there on Nov. 2, 2022. / Photo credit: Diocese of Arlington

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Nov 2, 2022 / 15:30 pm (CNA).

Speaking at Fairfax Memorial Park in Fairfax, northern Virginia, Arlington Bishop Michael Burbidge said in his All Souls’ Day homily that it is a “sacred duty” to pray for all the faithful departed.

The 11 a.m. Mass, attended by about 750 people, was followed by a blessing of the gravesites of deceased priests. It was the sixth such Mass that Burbidge has presided over as bishop of Arlington.

“[A]s we continue this earthly journey, we are reminded today of the great privilege that is ours: the sacred duty we have to pray for our loved ones who have died and all the faithful departed, and each day to honor them — to honor them by putting into practice all that they have taught us,” Burbidge said in his homily.

It is a tradition in the Arlington Diocese that many of those in attendance have lost a loved one in the past year, diocesan spokeswoman Mary Shaffrey explained.

More than 750 people attended the Nov. 2, 2022, All Souls' Day Mass celebrated by Arlington Bishop Michael Burbidge at Fairfax Memorial Park in Fairfax, Virginia. Photo credit: Diocese of Arlington
More than 750 people attended the Nov. 2, 2022, All Souls’ Day Mass celebrated by Arlington Bishop Michael Burbidge at Fairfax Memorial Park in Fairfax, Virginia. Photo credit: Diocese of Arlington

Burbidge said in the homily that taking a leave from home for a long time deepens the desire to return home.

“Our spiritual lives are no different,” he added.

“Right now, we are merely on a journey, a pilgrimage, and everything we do here on earth should be preparing us for our return home to the dwelling place, the eternal place that God has prepared for us from the beginning of time,” Burbidge said.

Burbidge reflected upon the mystery of eternal life. He said that Jesus tells us about eternal life. “There he says, ‘You will know rest and peace and life without end,’” he said.

“The Book of Wisdom says that the souls of the just will be in the hands of God and no torment will touch them. They will know grace and mercy,” he noted.

“St. Paul says that those who are reconciled with God, who die with him, will come to live with him,” he said. “And our Lord himself says, ‘All those who believe in me will be raised up on the last day.’”

Burbidge said that “on the day that the Lord calls us home to himself, we will be greeted by the loving embrace of God, his angels and saints, our beloved parents and spouses, and children and family members and friends who have died.”

“No wonder in a spiritual sense we long to return home,” he added.

Burbidge then implored all to strive for holiness and love of God through compassion, kindness, and forgiveness. He added that by attending the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, those present are united with the faithful departed in “the most profound way possible.”

“We are united with them today in the most profound way possible as we gather around this altar, to celebrate the heavenly banquet and to celebrate the truth that by his cross and resurrection, Jesus has transformed darkness into light, suffering to glory, and even death to life,” he said.

Burbidge concluded his homily with the communal recitation of the ages-old eternal rest prayer.

“Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and all the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen,” he concluded.

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Pope Francis on All Souls’ Day: Do you desire heaven above everything else?

November 2, 2022 Catholic News Agency 2
Pope Francis praying in St. Peter’s Basilica on All Souls’ Day, Nov. 2, 2022. / Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Nov 2, 2022 / 06:53 am (CNA).

On All Souls’ Day, Pope Francis urged Christians not to “compromise with the Gospel” but to take Jesus’ words seriously when he says we will be judged by how we treat the poor.

“Often, out of convenience or comfort, we tend to tone down Jesus’ message, to water down his words. Let’s face it, we have gotten pretty good at compromising with the Gospel,” the pope said in St. Peter’s Basilica on Nov. 2.

“From simple disciples of the Master we become masters of complexity, who argue a lot and do little, who seek answers more in front of the computer than in front of the Crucifix, on the internet rather than in the eyes of our brothers and sisters; Christians who comment, debate, and expound theories but do not know even a poor person by name, have not visited a sick person for months, have never fed or dressed someone, have never made friends with someone in need,’” he said.

On All Souls’ Day, Nov. 3, 2022, Pope Francis urged Christians not to “compromise with the Gospel,” but to take Jesus’ words seriously when he says we will be judged by how we treat the poor. Daniel Ibáñez / CNA
On All Souls’ Day, Nov. 3, 2022, Pope Francis urged Christians not to “compromise with the Gospel,” but to take Jesus’ words seriously when he says we will be judged by how we treat the poor. Daniel Ibáñez / CNA

Pope Francis offered Mass on All Souls’ Day for the repose of the souls of more than 150 deceased bishops and cardinals who died in the past year.

In his homily, the pope reflected on Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Matthew: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.”

The pope said that these words in the Gospel help prepare for death and the final judgment. He said God is “waiting for us among the poor and wounded of the world.” Pope Francis warned that there is a continual risk to “put the expectations of the world before the expectation of God” and to end up “losing sight of what matters.”

“The best careers, the greatest achievements, the most prestigious titles and awards, the accumulated wealth and earthly gains, all will vanish in an instant, everything,” he said.

The pope said that All Souls’ Day is a good occasion to ask “if our desires have anything to do with heaven.”

Pope Francis offered Mass on All Souls’ Day for the repose of the souls of more than 150 deceased bishops and cardinals who died in the past year. Daniel Ibáñez / CNA
Pope Francis offered Mass on All Souls’ Day for the repose of the souls of more than 150 deceased bishops and cardinals who died in the past year. Daniel Ibáñez / CNA

The Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica was offered for the 9 cardinals and 148 bishops and archbishops who died between Oct. 30, 2021, and Oct. 17, 2022.

Among the deceased cardinals listed in a booklet accompanying the Mass were Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the former Vatican secretary of state; Cardinal Claudio Hummes, the former archbishop of São Paulo, Brazil, who had a significant role in the 2019 Amazon Synod; and Cardinal Antonios Naguib, the former patriarch of Alexandria and head of the Coptic Catholic Church.

Bishops who died in the past year included Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Anthony Fiorenza of Galveston-Houston, Texas; Archbishop Emeritus Stanislaw Nowak of Czestochowa, Poland; Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Cheng Tsai-Fa of Taipei, Taiwan; and Bishop Emeritus Lawrence Donald Soens of Sioux City, Iowa.

Pope Francis blessing graves at the Vatican's Teutonic Cemetery on All Souls' Day, Nov. 2, 2022. Vatican Media
Pope Francis blessing graves at the Vatican’s Teutonic Cemetery on All Souls’ Day, Nov. 2, 2022. Vatican Media

After the Mass, Pope Francis made a private visit to a cemetery inside Vatican City. The Teutonic Cemetery, located next to St. Peter’s Basilica, is the burial place of people of German, Austrian, and Swiss descent, as well as for people from other German-speaking nations, particularly members of the Archconfraternity of Our Lady.

The cemetery is built on the historic site of Nero’s Circus, where early Christians in Rome were martyred, including St. Peter.

On All Souls’ Day and throughout the month of November, the Church makes a special effort to remember, honor, and pray for the dead. There are many different cultural traditions around this period, but one of the most consistently honored is the practice of visiting cemeteries.

Last year, Pope Francis visited a military cemetery in Rome on All Souls’ Day. In 2018, Pope Francis offered Mass in a cemetery for deceased children and unborn babies called the Garden of Angels, located in the Laurentino Cemetery on the outskirts of Rome.

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