The Festal Gathering of All Saints and All Souls

This weekend, we celebrate two important holy days in the liturgical and spiritual life of God’s Church: All Saints Day and the Commemoration of All Souls. It is interesting that both children and adults have different and sometimes curious images of heaven. Many of us share a basic idea of what heaven is like: a place filled with the people and things that we love. But the question remains of what happens to us after death. In the scriptures, we have various insights into how we will experience heaven. One particular passage from the Letter to the Hebrews gives us this image of the heavenly life:

“You have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering, and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, and God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect, and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently that that of Abel (Hebrews 12:22-24).”

In this passage, we can imagine our earthly journey ending at our heavenly destination. In this “new Jerusalem”, we will be united with the angels, the saints, and our loved ones in the presence of the Living God. How do we enter into this holy city? We enter by and through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ who opens the gates into this truly eternal city!

Jesus reveals that life after death will be an experience wholly unlike what we experience in life. The afterlife is not our lives today raised to a higher level. Rather, we will encounter and live forever in the presence of God, Creator and Master of the Universe. In heaven, we will stand in awe before the one, true, and living God who sustains us in this life and for all eternity. Jesus promises the gift of eternal life to all people. This hope in everlasting life strengthens and sustains us in our earthly challenges and sufferings. We know that God is always faithful and keeps all of his promises to us, his children.

As we continue our earthly journeys at work, home, and school, we will surely encounter the sadness of death – the passing of mothers, fathers, children, siblings, and friends. But this weekend’s feast days help us to believe more deeply in Christ’s promise that all of us – those who have lived before us, who share our lives now, and who will live after us – are all alive with the Living God.

During the month of November, let us rejoice in remembering our loved ones who have gone before us in faith with the hope of everlasting life. May the words of the Lord comfort us and encourage us until we are all again united in the heavenly Jerusalem. Amen! Peace and blessings to all!

Father Jim

Founded in 2014, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport is a collaborative of two historic parishes: Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. Our collaborative is comprised of Saint Ann Church in Gloucester, Saint Anthony’s Chapel in Gloucester, Saint Joachim Church in Rockport, and Our Lady of Good Voyage Church in Gloucester. We are a Roman Catholic faith community united in prayer, fellowship, and service. For more information, please contact Father Jim at Please join us! All are welcome!