O Sacred Banquet, Laid Out Before Me | All Souls’ Day Mass 2020

Holy Mass for the Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed
Cathedral of Saint Raymond Nonnatus
2 November 2020

Image credit: “New Jerusalem” by Thom Green

This year, we learned more about the statistics of death as reminders of our mortality looked us square in the face. We can be tempted to reduce death, as the world does, to numbers, tolls, statistics. We know that death is different. We know that each number of a death toll represents a real person; a brother, sister, father, mother, and friend. Each number represents a face, a story, a dream, a life lived and life mourned.

Have you mourned the loss you’ve come here to commemorate? Have you grieved? Have you been honest in your grief?

Why do we come to Mass? Why not just a prayer service or reading these names in a park?

Antiphon by St. Thomas Aquinas, O Sacrum Convivium (O Sacred Banquet):

O Sacred Banquet, in which Christ is received; the memory of his passion is renewed; the soul is filled with grace, and the pledge of future glory is given to us.

These four things! Here, Christ is really received, stirring up within us the memory his passion; Christ did not believe death was beneath his dignity…instead, he came to redeem death and make what was once the terror of all mankind become merely the doorway to Home. Being here, smelling the smells and seeing the sights and tasting his Body given for us, fills the mind and soul with grace and reminds us once again of the pledge of future glory given to us.

We know that our loved ones for whom we pray tonight offer a similar but more definitive prayer, which we heard during the psalm tonight:

The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I want…Even though I walk through the dark valley, I fear no evil, for you are at my side…You set a banquet before me, in the sight of my foes; I will dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.

Our banquet tonight is a foretaste of the banquet which is now enjoyed by those who have snatched from the fires of this life, purified by grace, and welcomed in the new and eternal homeland.

Do you want to be close to those we mourn, who now, we pray, live the very life of God? Go to Mass. Receive the Eucharist, and live if even for a moment the same life of God those we love enjoy.

The pledge of future glory has been given to us. Luckily for us, we have a Father who always keeps his promises.

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