Bishop Anthony B. Taylor celebrated the annual All Souls Day Mass at Calvary Cemetery in Little Rock Nov. 2. He concelebrated the Mass with Father Jack Vu, pastor of St. Patrick Church in North Little Rock, Father Joseph de Orbegozo, rector of the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock, and Father Stephen Gadberry, pastor of St. Theresa Church in Little Rock.
In his homily, Bishop Taylor discussed unique aspects of Catholic funerals and why we celebrate All Souls Day.
“We pray for the dead, and we believe that the dead can benefit from our prayers,” he said. “What is most distinctive about Catholic funerals: we've come to pray for the deceased, not merely celebrate his life…. Throughout the Mass we acknowledge that the deceased is a sinner, and, so, we are asking God to forgive him or her. Which makes it feel really odd when we attend a funeral that comes off more like a Mass of canonization than a Mass in which we have come to plead for God's mercy for our loved one.
“This is also why we have All Souls Day…. On All Souls Day we lift up our prayers also for those who may have no one to pray for them — a beautiful expression of the Communion of the Saints. We pray for the spiritual welfare of countless people, who may be in purgatory, whom we have never met, but with whom we are united in faith and in the mystical body of Christ: we are the Church Militant, still struggling against evil in this life, praying for the Church suffering in purgatory, with the Church Triumphant of those already in heaven interceding for us and for the poor souls in purgatory.
“So today, united with all the angels and saints, we lift up our prayers to God not only for the eternal rest of those who have gone before us, but also for their eternal share in the glory of God's kingdom...to which they already belonged in this life and in which we all hope to share fully in the next.”
Following the Mass, Bishop Taylor led about 40 Catholics in a procession through the cemetery, praying the rosary. The bishop sprinkled holy water on the graves of priests who are buried in the Priest Circle.
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