November 2nd is the feast of All Souls, when we remember all those who have gone before us ‘marked with the sign of faith’. However, we can say that in the popular faith of the people the whole month of November is a time when we feel a particular closeness to our dead relatives and friends.
Our tradition is to remember them by name and so we have the custom of the ‘dead list’ in many parishes. We write down on paper the names of our loved ones who we wish to be in eternal peace with God. For us in St Patrick’s that practice is especially important, many people send to us the names they wish to be remembered during this month. It is a task that is especially dear to our hearts and which our ‘altar of friends’ reminds us every day.
We write the names of our deceased ones on stone also, on their headstones, as a way to keep their memory alive. And so, we have the beautiful tradition of visiting graveyards at this time of the year also.
All of this is our practical human way of echoing a famous line from one of the prophets in the bible, speaking in God’s name “I have written (carved) your name on the palm of my hand” (Is 49:16). This is our faith.
We remember our Society members who died since last November: Fr Francis McElhatton, Fr JP Bohan, Fr Joe Flynn, Fr Michael Dillon, Fr Paddy O’Reilly, Fr Bill Mauric, Student Edward Opiyo Anam, Fr Con Cronin, Fr Michael Kane, Fr Alphie Byrne, Fr John Lalor, Fr Tom Browne and Fr Denis O'Rourke.
May all the names we recall and those who have no one to remember them be in the palm of God’s hand. May they rest in peace. Amen.