|Sister Death presides over the friars' cemetery, Yonkers, New York|
I like how we Franciscans have our own All Souls Day. It's like a family thing; just as in a family folks might take care to have Masses celebrated for their dear departed, so we Franciscans have a liturgical day for ours. I forget how we do it at home in the USA, but here in Italy this day always gets scheduled for the first totally free liturgical day after November 2. So this year, having duly celebrated the days for Martin de Porres and Charles Borromeo, it was this past Saturday.
The gospel for the Mass was from St. John.
Truly, truly I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come to judgment, but has passed from death to life. (John 5:24)
Has eternal life. Not will have eternal life. Not will receive eternal life in some world to come. No. Has eternal life. Now.
This eternal life that the believer possesses in the here and now is the very life of God that has come to dwell in his or her heart from the moment of baptism; the baptism in which we were baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a living force, active in the Christian soul, and our faith and hope is that this eternal life will not leave us at the moment of our temporal death, but rather carry us into new life, just as the earthly death endured by Jesus Christ could not hold on to his identity as the Son of God.
Our spirituality and our practice of a spiritual life is the keeping, protecting, and nourishing of this eternal life that has come to make a home in us.
In reflecting on this, I thought of a nice song they have here in Italy called Maria, tu che hai atteso nel silenzio. 'Mary, you who have awaited in silence."
The refrain invites us to imitate Mary in her receiving of the Word:
Aiutaci ad accogliere
il Figlio tuo che ora vive in noi.
Accogliere means to welcome or receive, in the sense of a host receiving a guest.
"Help us welcome your Son who now lives in us."
That's the spiritual life and task; to welcome and become ever more present to a Presence already present within us.