A Catholic Monthly Magazine

All Saints and All Souls


The cover drawing is a creative rendition of some of the graves on top of Pukekaraka, Ōtaki. The graves of Fr Melu and Brother Stanislaus are seen with the hopeful signs of spring blossom.

The artist is Fr Peter Healy sm, who lives in Ōtaki  and ministers on the Kapiti Coast.

I saw a huge number of people, impossible to count, from every nation, race, tribe and language. (Revelation 7:9)

Fr Kevin Head sm

Fr Kevin Head sm

The celebrations of All Saints and All Souls are brimming with hope, because among the ‘huge number’ that the Book of Revelation speaks of, are many people who know us and love us.

And as we celebrate the saints who have gone before us – our ancestors, parents, brothers and sisters, children, friends – we also celebrate that we are God’s own children, now and always. And because of our faith that we are God’s children, we live in hope that God will fulfil the promises made to us in Christ. It is our faith that eventually, as our ancestors do now, we will see God and become more fully like God.

... a huge number of people ... from every nation, race,
tribe and language

There is room for everyone in God’s reign. We all know sorrow and pain, need and want; we all know what it is to fall short of our goals, to fail. The beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) tell us that the whole range of human experience is blessed, and that, in the words of Julian of Norwich, ‘All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well,’ because whatever God does is done in love.

On the first two days of November and through the month, we celebrate the saints we have known and know. We praise God for those who took care of the hungry, the poor, the migrants, the sick and all those in need. We bless God for those who stood up for what is right and promoted what is good and true and just, and who fought bravely to become better people.

We honour those who kept praying in the face of utter darkness, and who kept on battling against despair. We thank God for those who kept on forgiving in the face of rejection and hurt.

For all of these great people who have died, and for those still here in our midst, we thank God. And if you feel that God is being thanked for you, that’s fine, for you are part of this Communion of Saints, the kingdom made up of those who have gone before us, and those among us, who live Gospel lives.

Among other things, All Saints’ Day reminds us that we are born to be saints, and in our efforts under God’s grace to grow in holiness, no challenge is too much for us to overcome. We long to see God face to face, and we are called to give witness to God’s reign by living the beatitudes.

Not only on All Souls’ Day, but throughout the year we pray for those who have died, because the Church sees a gap between the way we are at the moment of death, and the perfect state we need to be in so that we may see God face to face. We need to be purified, perfectly prepared. The process of being prepared is expressed in the Church’s teaching about purgatory.

Someday a group of people will go to a cemetery and leave my body there when everyone else goes home. When that day comes, I hope people will pray for me, as we pray now and during the month of November for those who have gone before us to join that ‘huge number … impossible to count,’ ‘beyond the rim of the stars.’

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