33rd Sunday in
Ordinary Time – C
November is the Month of All Souls; it starts with All Saints Day on which we honor all those now in heaven, followed by All Souls’ Day, which reminds us to pray for the dead who have yet to enter heaven. Although we do not know the details of how God works out our eternal salvation, we know that since each Christian has a part in accepting God’s gifts of grace for themselves and others now on earth, we must also have a role in helping those who have died. In that spirit, I offer my reflections on the Church’s Solemn Blessing used at Celebrations for the Dead.
Solemn Blessing – Celebrations for the Dead
May the God of all consolation bless you,
for in his unfathomable goodness he created the human race, and in the Resurrection of his Only Begotten Son he has given believers the hope of rising again. Amen. 
To us who are alive, may God grant
pardon for our sins, and to all the dead,
a place of light and peace. Amen. 
So may we all live happily for ever with Christ,
whom we believe truly rose from the dead. Amen. 
And may the blessing of almighty God, the Father, and the Son, + and the Holy Spirit, come down on you and remain with you for ever.
GOD: OUR CREATOR & REDEEMER.
As the Book of Genesis reminds us, God created the human race out of love, and entrusted all things to us, to be used ONLY according to God’s plan and purpose. However, it was, as the Bible attests, a stewardship we could not handle; and by our misuse of God’s gifts we brought sin and death into the world. However, as soon as we fell out of grace and into sin, God quickly promised to redeem us from sin and death. In the quest to conquer evil, God said He would put ‘enmity’ between the offspring of the serpent who connived our First Parents into sinning – and the offspring of ‘the woman’ who would defeat the devil. Christians believe that battle was won, once and for all, by Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, yet true God.
Having conquered sin and death, Christ now shares His victory with all who suffer and die as He suffered and died. And therein lies our hope: “If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.” [Romans 6:8]
So in the first part of this triple blessing we recall how God, the giver of life, gave us the means to be restored to life, even after death!
 GOD HOLDS EVERYONE IN HIS HANDS. In part two of this triple blessing we ask God to give ALL His children what they need most. To us who are alive, we beseech God’s pardon and peace for our failings. And to those who have preceded us through death’s door into the next world, we ask the Lord to fulfill the priestly blessing first imparted by Aaron, the brother of Moses: “The LORD bless you and keep you! The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace!” [Numbers 6:24-26]
 WE WILL LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER WITH JESUS. It may seem like a fairy tale ending, but it is the Gospel truth; here is how Saint Paul said it: “When this which is corruptible clothes itself with incorruptibility and this which is mortal clothes itself with immortality, then the word that is written shall come about: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” [1 Corinthians 15:54-57]
So, while we must all bid farewell to our loved ones – and must one day face – and endure – death ourselves, death does NOT have the final word! Jesus Christ, the Word of God, has the final word – and His Word is LIFE: a LIFE that will never end; a LIFE that will conquer every form of darkness, even the darkness of the tomb! For Christ’s “light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it!” [John 1:5] And so we ask the Lord to bring all our beloved dead – and all who made the ultimate sacrifice by giving up their life for their God and/or their Country, into the never ending light of heaven. May they rest in peace. Amen.
In His holy Name,
Rev. Thomas J. Serafin, KHS