Today's liturgical observance is called a "commemoration." Because the Church finds herself praying for those who have died, we cannot bring ourselves to call it a "feast" or a "solemnity" even though it holds that rank in the table of liturgical precedence. For those who have recently lost a loved one, designating today's observance in such a way would be probably renew the wounds of grief and loss that accompany the death of a loved one. So the Church calls today a "commemoration," a memorial for those who have died.
At the same time, I cannot help but feel that today's observance should bring with it the joyful recognition that we are a people who are loved, for today's observance is not really about a group of people who are waiting to get into heaven. Rather, it is about the realization that God's love and mercy blots out all our sins. "Waiting" is one of those words which connects us to the reality of time; and as I have said before, time is a philosophical fiction that human beings use to describe the reality in which we live. Time has nothing to do with God who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. As Psalm 90 reminds us, "A thousand years in your sight are merely a day gone by." (Psalm 90:4)
As I pray today, I will remember all those who have gone before me and who have died, especially those who have died recently. I will especially remember the members of my family, my Franciscan confreres, and the members of CUSA. Most of all, I will remember that my faith tells me that I am loved by God, loved so much that my sins have been washed away in a torrent of grace. Those who are fans of J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter novels will remember what Professor Dumbledore told Harry when explaining why Voldemort could not harm Harry. He said that he had been saved by the love of his mother. This is exactly what we Christians believe; we have been saved by the love of our Father.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator