But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them. In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died, and their departure was thought to be a disaster, and their going from us to be their destruction; but they are at peace. For though in the sight of others they were punished, their hope is full of immortality.
Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good, because God tested them and found them worthy of himself; like gold in the furnace he tried them, and like a sacrificial burnt-offering he accepted them. In the time of their visitation they will shine forth,and will run like sparks through the stubble. They will govern nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord will reign over them for ever.
Those who trust in him will understand truth, and the faithful will abide with him in love, because grace and mercy are upon his holy ones, and he watches over his elect.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Funerals can provide us with rich opportunities for self-reflection and recommitment to our own journey of faith. As we pray for the deceased, we recognize our own need for prayer. As we face mortality, we are prompted to consider anew our own priorities and attachments.
Today we celebrate the feast of All Souls, and are invited to summon our own litany of the saints, and pray for those whose lives have touched our own, and who have died in faith. As we call to mind the faces of neighbors, friends, and family who have died, may we find consolation in today’s scripture which assures us that they abide with God.
In the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius suggests one way of making decisions is imagining ourselves on our deathbed and choosing that which would bring us happiness and joy as we look back upon it. Inspired by the witness of the departed, what choices can we make today to abide in God’s love?
In your hands, O Lord,
we humbly entrust our brothers and sisters.
In this life you embraced them with your tender love;
deliver them now from every evil
and bid them eternal rest.
The old order has passed away:
welcome them into paradise,
where there will be no sorrow, no weeping or pain,
but fullness of peace and joy
with your Son and the Holy Spirit
forever and ever.
—Prayer from the Order of Christian Funerals