Meditation: All Faithful Departed, All Souls

Today is the day for commemoration of all faithful departed, which used to be called 
All Souls’ Day.  

I rather like calling it All Souls’ Day, because, frankly, some of us worry about the faithful part. We have loved ones who have gone before, but we’re not sure about the faithful part for them.  Maybe they were, maybe they weren’t, faithful.  

Maybe they were full of the kind of doubts that tilted them away from “religion.”  Maybe they were scared away from religious life because they couldn’t get past the hypocrisy or faithlessness they saw in some church community somewhere, or they were threatened by some preacher’s insistence on parading around an angry wrathful God who consigned poor hapless people to hell for small infractions.  

Maybe they never had a chance to develop much of a faith life because they were just too young  or they were in the grip of mental illness or addiction or disease or impaired cognitive functioning.  

Maybe they lived in a place of hopelessness 
and could never get out of it. 
Maybe they were part of a different faith group or of a non-traditional community.  

Maybe they had been wounded too deeply - 
maybe even wounded by the church - to be part of any kind of “faith community.” 

Maybe their faith was known to God alone, but because it was not known to us, maybe we worry about them, worry about their souls.

And so I like the part about ALL souls.  All souls belong to God and even as we miss those we no longer see, we are comforted by the idea of their souls resting in God somehow, even if we don’t subscribe to the ancient Greek idea of souls and bodies being separated at death.

All souls.  All departed.  All of those created by God whom we hope have returned to God in the mysterious way we come to dwell in God’s presence on the other side of this life.  All those whom God created, whom God loves. 

All of them.
And so that’s why I like calling this ALL Souls’ Day.  

We, at least some of us, have more than enough upheaval and emotion to deal with regarding the departed without adding in worry about how well they scored in some kind of mysterious faithfulness department.

And so, to help us with this mystery, let us hear the prophet Isaiah.  The Lord of Hosts will make a rich feast of food and wine for all peoples, and God will destroy the darkness that covers and smothers hopeless and weary and wounded and knocked-about people, and God will swallow up death forever.  

God will take away the disgrace of those who have been disgraced; God will feed those who have been starving for health or love or understanding or wholeness; God will wipe away the tears from all faces.  

And this will be salvation.  Bringing wholeness, removing disgrace, 
comforting those whose pain and shame and sorrow and deep, deep sadness cover their faces with tears.  

This will be salvation,  when God wipes away the tears from every face, 
from all faces, 
of all souls.


Perpetua said…
Wonderful, Penny. I've saved it for further pondering as it says so much in such a short space. Thank you.
Jay Croft said…
The "faithful" part bothers me, too. It sounds like the Pope haranguing : "The faithful must do this . . . the faithful must do that."
Thank you, Perpetua - I'm glad you found it thought-provoking.

Jay, thanks for your comment. A word like "faithful," especially with "the" in front of it, is rather heavily freighted!