Today, in our Catholic tradition we remember in a special way all the deceased not only during those early days of November, but also throughout the entire month. We recall with gratitude the many ways in which we have been blessed by God through those who have gone on ahead of us to the next life; we renew our confidence in their ability to intercede before God for us as we continue our pilgrim path on earth; and we pray that all of us will be led into full communion with one another and with God one day.
St. Ambrose eloquently expresses our belief in the communion of the saints: “Those who have died in grace have gone no further from us than God, and God is very near.” Frequently, the death of a loved one can sharpen our awareness of this mysterious bond. Soon after the death of my father, one of my sisters and her three-year-old daughter returned to their car laden with bags after having completed the weekly shopping, only to realize that the key was nowhere to be found. In desperation, my sister paused and said to her daughter, “Let’s pray to St. Anthony.” To her surprise, her little daughter – who had been very fond of her recently deceased grandfather – responded immediately, “No, let’s ask granddad.”
This small child realized in a mysterious way – not unlike the intuition of her ancient Celtic ancestors during their celebration of Halloween – that the precious bond of love between her and her granddad had not been broken by death, but rather that they remain united with one another in the communion of the saints.