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God created us not for death but for life eternal

Archbishop Wenski's homily at cemetery on All Souls Day

Archbishop Thomas Wenski preached this homily while celebrating the Mass for All Souls Day at Our Lady of Mercy Cemetery in Doral, Nov. 2, 2019. The Mass was celebrated at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, which is located next to the cemetery.

This Mass is offered for the repose of the souls of all those of your families who have gone home to the Lord – marked with the sign of faith. We pray for them, asking the Lord to bring them to the fullness of Eternal Life – and we pray for you that the Lord will comfort you in your grief.

Ofrecemos esta Misa por el eterno descanso de sus seres queridos y por la consolación de sus familias que siguen en esta peregrinación por este valle de lágrimas.

Como católicos vemos la muerte no como el fin de nuestras vidas sino más bien como una puerta que abre el camino para nosotros hacia la vida eterna. Sin embargo, morir no es fácil – por eso rezamos para obtener la gracia de morir bien. Jesús, José, María, les doy el corazón y el alma mía; Jesús, José, María, asístanme en mi última agonía; Jesús, José, María, reciban, cuando muera, el alma mía.

Grief is a cross – a difficult cross – that we must carry; but no one should carry it alone. As we pray for the eternal repose of our dead, we also acknowledge with gratitude those who in our grief helped us. We remember our families and friends without whose support we would truly have been desolate; we acknowledge gratefully the ministry of those who attend to the bereaved in our parishes.

And here I would like also to mention the staff and administration of Our Lady of Mercy Cemetery. Their concern and their work to maintain this beautiful cemetery helps each one of us who has a loved one interned here to cherish even more dearly the memories of our deceased loved ones. Indeed, this cemetery was built and is maintained as a witness to our faith in the resurrection of the dead and to our hope in the life to come.

And each year, on All Souls Day and on Memorial Day, the cemetery administration makes possible this Mass offered for the repose of all who are buried or entombed here. St. Ambrose preached, “We have loved them during life; let us not abandon them in death, until we have conducted them by our prayers into the house of the Lord.”

Today’s Mass for All Souls follows yesterday’s Solemnity of All Saints. Catholic tradition has spoken of three states of the Church: the Church triumphant – those of our numbers who have already entered into the glory of everlasting life; the Church suffering – those of the faithful departed who will soon enter heaven but are now experiencing the final purgation or purification that we Catholics call purgatory; and the Church militant, that is those of us who, while citizens of heaven through our baptism, are still on our pilgrimage on earth, traversing, as it were, alien land until we reach our true fatherland, the kingdom of heaven.

El mes de noviembre con sus fiestas de Todos los Santos y de Todos los Fieles Difuntos debe reforzar en nosotros la esperanza cristiana. Y la creencia católica en el Purgatorio – esa purificación final de los elegidos – nos da motivo de quedarnos firmes en esta esperanza. Porque existe el purgatorio, no debemos desesperarnos de la salvación eterna de nuestros seres queridos que han muerto sin haber alcanzado esa santidad perfecta necesaria para poder entrar en la presencia de Dios; y a la vez que nuestra creencia en el Purgatorio nos protege de la desesperación, también nos guarda contra la presunción de creer que uno pueda salvarse sin la ayuda de lo alto o que uno pueda conseguir el perdón sin conversión o la gloria sin mérito.

Even as we remember to the Lord our departed loved ones, we are reminded of the gift of Eternal Life promised us by Jesus Christ, who in dying destroyed our death and in rising restored us to life. As Catholics, we learned in the catechism of our youth that God made us to know him, to love him, to serve him in this life – and to be happy with him in the next. God did not create us in his own image and likeness just for us to die one day. He created us for himself. And to bring us to himself, he sent his Son Jesus Christ into the world, a man like us in all things but sin.

He suffered death – as each one of us must one day. But death does not have the final word in the history of our human race, nor is death the end for any one of us. At the funeral Masses of our loved ones, we proclaim that for those who believe in Jesus Christ, crucified but risen from the dead, “life is changed not ended.”

Dales Señor el descanso eterno; Brille para ellos la luz perpetua; Que descansen en Paz. Amen.

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