Month of the Holy Souls (Days 15-16)
November 15, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.
Day 15
A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans (5:17-21)
If, by the transgression of the one [Adam],
     death came to reign through that one,
     how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace
     and of the gift of justification
     come to reign in life through the one Jesus Christ.
In conclusion, just as through one transgression
     condemnation came upon all,
     so, through one righteous act,
     acquittal and life came to all.
For just as through the disobedience of the one man
     the many were made sinners,
     so through the obedience of the one
     the many will be made righteous.
The law entered in so that transgression might increase
     but, where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more, so that,
     as sin reigned in death,
     grace also might reign through justification for eternal life
     through Jesus Christ our Lord.

From the encyclical letter Dominum et vivificantum of Pope St. John Paul II

The Pauline contrast between the “Spirit” and the ” flesh ” also includes the contrast between “life” and “death”. This is a serious problem, and concerning it one must say at once that materialism, as a system of thought, in all its forms, means the acceptance of death as the definitive end of human existence. Everything that is material is corruptible, and therefore the human body (insofar as it is “animal”) is mortal. If man in his essence is only “flesh”, death remains for him an impassable frontier and limit. Hence one can understand how it can be said that human life is nothing but an “existence in order to die”.

It must be added that on the horizon of contemporary civilization–especially in the form that is most developed in the technical and scientific sense–the signs and symptoms of death have become particularly present and frequent. One has only to think of the arms race and of its inherent danger of nuclear self-destruction.

Moreover, everyone has become more and more aware of the grave situation of vast areas of our planet, marked by death-dealing poverty and famine. It is a question of problems that are not only economic but also and above all ethical. But on the horizon of our era there are gathering ever darker “signs of death”: a custom has become widely established–in some places it threatens to become almost an institution–of taking the lives of human beings even before they are born, or before they reach the natural point of death. Furthermore, despite many noble efforts for peace, new wars have broken out and are taking place, wars which destroy the lives or the health of hundreds of thousands of people. And how can one fail to mention the attacks against human life by terrorism, organized even on an international scale?

Unfortunately, this is only a partial and incomplete sketch of the picture of death being composed in our age…. Does there not rise up a new and more or less conscious plea to the life-giving Spirit from the dark shades of materialistic civilization, and especially from those increasing signs of death in the sociological and historical picture in which that civilization has been constructed? At any rate, even independently of the measure of human hopes or despairs, and of the illusions or deceptions deriving from the development of materialistic systems of thought and life, there remains the Christian certainty that the Spirit blows where he wills and that we possess “the first fruits of the Spirit”, and that therefore even though we may be subjected to the sufferings of time that passes away, “we groan inwardly as we wait for… the redemption of our bodies”, or of all our human essence, which is bodily and spiritual. Yes, we groan, but in an expectation filled with unflagging hope, because it is precisely this human being that God has drawn near to, God who is Spirit. God the Father, a sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh”. At the culmination of the Paschal Mystery, the Son of God, made man and crucified for the sins of the world, appeared in the midst of his Apostles after the Resurrection, breathed on them and said “Receive the Holy Spirit”. This “breath” continues for ever, for “the Spirit helps us in our weakness”.

The mystery of the Resurrection and of Pentecost is proclaimed and lived by the Church, which has inherited and which carries on the witness of the Apostles about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. She is the perennial witness to this victory over death which revealed the power of the Holy Spirit and determined his new coming, his new presence in people and in the world. For in Christ’s Resurrection the Holy Spirit-Paraclete revealed himself especially as he who gives life: “He who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you”. In the name of the Resurrection of Christ the Church proclaims life, which manifested itself beyond the limits of death, the life which is stronger than death. At the same time, she proclaims him who gives this life: the Spirit, the Giver of Life; she proclaims him and cooperates with him in giving life. For “although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness”, the righteousness accomplished by the Crucified and Risen Christ. And in the name of Christ’s Resurrection the Church serves the life that comes from God himself, in close union with and humble service to the Spirit.

Musical Selection (Orthodox Kontakian for the Departed)

Give rest, O Christ, to thy servant with thy saints:
where sorrow and pain are no more;
neither sighing but life everlasting.
Thou only art immortal, the creator and maker of man:
and we are mortal formed from the dust of the earth,
and unto earth shall we return:
for so thou didst ordain,
when thou created me saying:
Dust thou art und unto dust shalt thou return.
All we go down to the dust;
and weeping o’er the grave we make our song:
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
Almighty and merciful God,
whose Son willingly suffered death for our sake,
grant in your goodness that your servants
may share the glory and triumph of his resurrection.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.  Amen.

Day 16

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans (6:3-9)

Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus
     were baptized into his death?
We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death,
     so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead
     by the glory of the Father,
     we too might live in newness of life.

For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his,
     we shall also be united with him in the resurrection.
We know that our old self was crucified with him,
     so that our sinful body might be done away with,
     that we might no longer be in slavery to sin.
For a dead person has been absolved from sin.
If, then, we have died with Christ,
     we believe that we shall also live with him.
We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more;
     death no longer has power over him.

From his Commentary on the Gospel of John by St. Augustine of Hippo

To learn that the love of which we speak belongs to the Holy Spirit, listen to St. Paul, when he says, The love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Why, then, was it the will of the Lord, that he gave the Spirit only after his Resurrection, seeing what great benefits are given to us when the Spirit is poured into our hearts? What is the meaning of this? It was so that in our earnest desire for our own resurrection we should be detached from the world in order to hasten towards God. Let us not set our hearts on anything here, where we are born, and where we die. Rather, by love let us pass from hence, and through that love we have for God, dwell in heaven through love. In our pilgrimage through this life let our hearts be set only on this, that we are not to stay in this world for ever, but by living a good life, there shall be prepared for us a dwelling place from which we will never depart. Our Lord Jesus Christ, since he is risen again, dies no more. As St. Paul says, Death no longer has any dominion over him. This is where we must set our love. 
See what the Lord has promised us, instead. Not earthly and temporal riches, not honour and power in the world. For these things are given to evil men, so that good men may think less of them. He has not promised bodily health, which he gives even to animals. Not a long life, for how can that be called long, which comes to an end? He has not promised us believers long life, or old age, as if they were something important. After all, people wish to live to old age, but when it comes, they find it a matter for grumbling. He has not promised physical beauty, which disease, or that longed-for old age destroy. People wish to be beautiful, and want to live to old age, but the two desires are not compatible! If you live to be old, you will not be beautiful. When old ages comes, beauty flees away. Flourishing beauty, and old age with its complaints are not found together in one body. Christ has promised none of these things. Rather, what he has promised is that those who believe in him should come to him and drink. From his heart flow streams of living water. He has promised us eternal life, where we shall no longer be afraid, suffer no disturbance. 
We shall never pass from thence, for there will be no dying or weeping for one who is dead, while at the same time hoping for someone to succeed the person who has died. Such things he has promised us: things which fill us with fervent love, the gift of the Holy Spirit. That is why it was not his good pleasure to give us his Spirit until he had been glorified. In his Risen Body he shows us the life which we do not yet possess, but which we hope to have through our own Resurrection.

Musical Selection (Funeral Ikos; Orthodox Liturgy)

Why these bitter words of the dying, O brethren, which they utter as they go hence? I am parted from my brethren. All my friends do I abandon, and go hence. But whither I go, that understand I not, neither what shall become of me yonder; only God who hath summoned me knoweth. But make commemoration of me with the song: Alleluia.
But whither now go the souls? How dwell they now together there? This mystery have I desired to learn, but none can impart aright. Do they call to mind their own people, as we do them? Or have they forgotten all those who mourn them and make the song: Alleluia. 
We go forth on the path eternal, and as condemned, with downcast faces, present ourselves before the only God eternal. Where then is comeliness? Where then is wealth? Where then is the glory of this world? There shall none of these things aid us, but only to say oft the psalm: Alleluia. 
If thou hast shown mercy unto man, O man, that same mercy shall be shown thee there; and if on an orphan thou hast shown compassion, the same shall there deliver thee from want, If in this life the naked thou hast clothed, the same shall give thee shelter there, and sing the psalm: Alleluia. 
Youth and the beauty of the body fade at the hour of death, and the tongue then burneth fiercely, and the parched throat is inflamed. The beauty of the eyes is quenched then, the comeliness of the face all altered, the shapeliness of the neck destroyed; and the other parts have become numb, nor often say: Alleluia. 
With ecstacy are we inflamed if we but hear that there is light eternal yonder; that there is Paradise, wherein every soul of Righteous Ones rejoiceth. Let us all, also, Enter into Christ, that all we may cry aloud thus unto God: Alleluia.



To you, O God, the dead are alive,

and in you the saints find fullness of joy.

Hear our prayers that your servants,

whose eyes are now closed to the light of this world,

may awake to the brightness of eternal light.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

God for ever and ever.  Amen.