Month of the Holy Souls (Days 28-29)
November 28, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.

Day 28

A reading from the Book of Revelation (14:13)

I, John, heard a voice from heaven say, "Write this:
     Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on."
"Yes," said the Spirit,
     "let them find rest from their labors,
     for their works accompany them."

From his Catechetical Instructions by St. John Mary Vianney

A DAY WILL come, perhaps it is not far off, when we must bid adieu to life, adieu to the world, adieu to our relations, adieu to our friends. When shall we return, my children? Never. We appear upon this earth, we disappear, and we return no more; our poor body, that we take such care of, goes away into dust, and our soul, all trembling, goes to appear before the good God. When we quit this world, where we shall appear no more, when our last breath of life escapes, and we say our last adieu, we shall wish to have passed our life in solitude, in the depths of a desert, far from the world and its pleasures. We have these examples of repentance before our eyes every day, my children, and we remain always the same. We pass our life gaily, without ever troubling ourselves about eternity. By our indifference to the service of the good God, one would think we were never going to die.

See, my children, some people pass their whole life without thinking of death. It comes, and behold! they have nothing; faith, hope, and love, all are already dead within them. When death shall come upon us, of what use will three-quarters of our life have been to us? With what are we occupied the greatest part of our time? Are we thinking of the good God, of our salvation, of our soul? O my children! what folly is the world! We come into it, we go out of it, without knowing why. The good God places us in it to serve Him, to try if we will love Him and be faithful to His law; and after this short moment of trial, He promises us a recompense. Is it not just that He should reward the faithful servant and punish the wicked one? Should the Trappist, who has passed his life in lamenting and weeping over his sins, be treated the same as the bad Christian, who has lived in abundance in the midst of all the enjoyments of life? No; certainly not. We are on earth not to enjoy its pleasures, but to labor for our salvation.

Let us prepare ourselves for death; we have not a minute to lose: it will come upon us at the moment when we least expect it; it will take us by surprise. Look at the saints, my children, who were pure; they were always trembling, they pined away with fear; and we, who so often offend the good God – we have no fears. Life is given us that we may learn to die well, and we never think of it. We occupy ourselves with everything else. The idea of it often occurs to us, and we always reject it; we put it off to the last moment. O my children! this last moment, how much it is to be feared! Yet the good God does not wish us to despair; He shows us the good thief, touched with repentance, dying near Him on the cross; but he is the only one; and then see, he dies near the good God. Can we hope to be near Him at our last moment – we who have been far from Him all our life? What have we done to deserve that favour? A great deal of evil, and no good.

There was once a good Trappist Father, who was trembling all over at perceiving the approach of death. Someone said to him, “Father, of what then are you afraid?” “Of the judgment of God,” he said. “Ah! if you dread the judgment – you who have done so much penance, you who love God so much, who have been so long preparing for death – what will become of me?” See, my children, to die well we must live well; to live well, we must seriously examine ourselves: every evening think over what we have done during the day; at the end of each week review what we have done during the week; at the end of each month review what we have done during the month; at the end of the year, what we have done during the year. By this means, my children, we cannot fail to correct ourselves, and to become fervent Christians in a short time. Then, when death comes, we are quite ready; we are happy to go to Heaven.

Music Selection (Orthodox Liturgy)

Thou only Creator Who, with wisdom profound, mercifully orderest all

things, and givest unto all that which is useful. Give rest, O Lord, to the

souls of Thy servants who have fallen asleep; for they have placed their trust

in Thee, our Maker and Fashioner, and our God.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Now and ever,

and unto ages of ages. Amen.

We have you as a wall and a haven, and an intercessor well pleasing unto

God, Whom you have born O Virgin Theotokos, the Salvation of the



O God,

in whose mercy the faithful find repose,

forgive the sins of your servants

and grant pardon to all who rest in Christ,

that, freed from every trace of guilt,

they may be united with the risen Lord,

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

God for ever and ever.  Amen.

Day 29

A reading from the Book of Revelation (20:11-21:1)

I, John, saw a large white throne and the one who was sitting on it.
The earth and the sky fled from his presence
     and there was no place for them.
I saw the dead, the great and the lowly, standing before the throne,
     and scrolls were opened.
Then another scroll was opened, the book of life.
The dead were judged according to their deeds,
     by what was written in the scrolls.
The sea gave up its dead;
     then Death and Hades gave up their dead.
All the dead were judged according to their deeds.
Then Death and Hades were thrown into the pool of fire.
(This pool of fire is the second death.)
Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life
     was thrown into the pool of fire.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth.
The former heaven and the former earth had passed away,
     and the sea was no more.

From Beyond the Mirror by Fr. Henri J.M. Nouwen

In the face of death, I realised that it was not love that kept me clinging to life but unresolved anger. Love, real love, flowing from me or toward me, sets me free to die. Death would not undo that love. To the contrary, death would deepen it and strengthen it. Those whom I love dearly and those by whom I am loved dearly may mourn my death, but their bonds with me will only grow stronger and deeper. They would remember me, make me part of their very members, and thus carry my spirit with them on their journey.

     No, the real struggle was not a matter of leaving loved ones. The real struggle had to do with leaving behind me people whom I had not forgiven and people who had not forgiven me. These feelings kept me bound to the old body and brought me great sadness. I suddenly felt an immense desire to call around my bed all who were angry with me and all with whom I was angry, to embrace them, ask them to forgive me, and offer them my forgiveness.

     As I thought of them, I realised that they represented a host of opinions, judgements, and even condemnations that had enslaved me to this world. It almost seemed that much of my energy had gone into proving to myself and to others that I was right in my conviction that some people could not be trusted, that others were using me or were trying to push me aside, and that whole groups and categories of people were falling short of the mark. Thus I kept holding on to the illusion that I am destined to be the evaluator and judge of human behaviour.

     As I felt life weakening in me, I felt a deep desire to forgive and to be forgiven, to let go of all evaluations and opinions, to be free from the burden of judgements. I said to Sue, “Please tell everyone who has hurt me that I forgive them from my heart, and please ask everyone whom I have hurt to forgive me too.” As I said this, I felt I was taking off the wide leather belts that I had worn while chaplain with the rank of captain in the army. Those belts not only girded my waist but also crossed my chest and shoulders. They had given me prestige and power. They had encouraged me to judge people and put them in their place. Although my stay in the army was very brief, I had, in my mind, never fully removed my belts. But I knew now that I did not want to die with these belts holding me captive. I had to die powerless, without belts, completely free from judgement.

     What worried me most during these hours was that my death might make someone feel guilty, ashamed, or left hanging spiritually in midair. I was afraid that someone would say or think, “I wish there had been a chance to resolve our conflict, to say what I really feel, to express my true intention. . . .I wish, but now it is too late.” I know how hard it is to live with these unsaid words and withheld gestures. They can deepen our darkness and become a burden of guilt.

     I knew that my dying could be good or bad for others, depending on the choice I made in the face of it. I said again to Sue, “In case I die, tell everyone that I feel an immense love for all the people I have come to know, also toward those with whom I live in conflict. Tell them not to feel anxious or guilty but to let me go into the house of my Father and to trust that there my communion with them will grow deeper and stronger. Tell them to celebrate with me and be grateful for all that God has given me.”

Musical Selection

May choirs of angels lead you into paradise,
and may the martyrs come to welcome you,
to bring you home into the holy city,
so you may dwell in new Jerusalem.

May holy angels be there at your welcoming,
with all the saints who go before you there,
that you may know the peace and joy of paradise;
that you may enter into everlasting rest.



Lord God,

bestow unending mercy on our departed brothers and sisters

and grant them an eternal reward,

for they have placed their faith and hope in you.

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.