At All Souls’ Day Mass, Arlington Bishop Implores Prayers for the Faithful Departed
It is a tradition in the Arlington Diocese that many of those in attendance have lost a loved one in the past year.
FAIRFAX, Va. — Speaking at Fairfax Memorial Park in Fairfax, northern Virginia, Arlington Bishop Michael Burbidge said in his All Souls’ Day homily that it is a “sacred duty” to pray for all the faithful departed.
The 11 a.m. Mass, attended by about 750 people, was followed by a blessing of the gravesites of deceased priests. It was the sixth such Mass that Bishop Burbidge has presided over as bishop of Arlington.
“[A]s we continue this earthly journey, we are reminded today of the great privilege that is ours: the sacred duty we have to pray for our loved ones who have died and all the faithful departed, and each day to honor them — to honor them by putting into practice all that they have taught us,” Bishop Burbidge said in his homily.
It is a tradition in the Arlington Diocese that many of those in attendance have lost a loved one in the past year, diocesan spokeswoman Mary Shaffrey explained.
Bishop Burbidge said in the homily that taking a leave from home for a long time deepens the desire to return home.
“Our spiritual lives are no different,” he added.
“Right now, we are merely on a journey, a pilgrimage, and everything we do here on earth should be preparing us for our return home to the dwelling place, the eternal place that God has prepared for us from the beginning of time,” Bishop Burbidge said.
Bishop Burbidge reflected upon the mystery of eternal life. He said that Jesus tells us about eternal life. “There he says, ‘You will know rest and peace and life without end,’” he said.
“The Book of Wisdom says that the souls of the just will be in the hands of God and no torment will touch them. They will know grace and mercy,” he noted.
“St. Paul says that those who are reconciled with God, who die with him, will come to live with him,” he said. “And our Lord himself says, ‘All those who believe in me will be raised up on the last day.’”
Bishop Burbidge said that “on the day that the Lord calls us home to himself, we will be greeted by the loving embrace of God, his angels and saints, our beloved parents and spouses, and children and family members and friends who have died.”
“No wonder in a spiritual sense we long to return home,” he added.
Bishop Burbidge then implored all to strive for holiness and love of God through compassion, kindness, and forgiveness. He added that by attending the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, those present are united with the faithful departed in “the most profound way possible.”
“We are united with them today in the most profound way possible as we gather around this altar, to celebrate the heavenly banquet and to celebrate the truth that by his cross and resurrection, Jesus has transformed darkness into light, suffering to glory, and even death to life,” he said.
Bishop Burbidge concluded his homily with the communal recitation of the ages-old eternal rest prayer.
“Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and all the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen,” he concluded.