The Deceased: Friends of the Living

IMG_0574The month of November celebrates All Saints and All Souls: an opportunity for us to pray for and remember our beloved who passed away and wait for us. Father Guanella wrote an unusual booklet in 1883. At that time he went through his night of darkness and suffering. It was the time that matured him into a man of prayer, meditation and total abandon to the will of God. He was waiting for his time of grace, a time when God would show him his vocation and the way to accomplish his mission.
He had time to meditate on life and on death. He was not depressed or discouraged. He was just waiting for God’s sign. Meanwhile he wrote a little but touching booklet: On the Tomb of the Deceased. He expresses some beautiful thoughts addressed more to himself than to others.
It is a powerful suggestion for us Guanellians to read this book during a retreat. It will change your perspective on death.
“Friendship is a most dear gift. He who finds a true friend,” says the Lord, “finds a real treasure.” When two friends meet, they embrace one another. Afterwards, they join together heart to heart through the discourses of their minds and the affections of their spirits. Then they joyfully sit at table together. At table they exchange their gifts. One savors with delight the foods of the other, thus in a certain way they feed themselves on the life of the other, and see to it that a friendly blood may flow from the veins of one into the other’s. Dear friendship, you are a heavenly good come down for the comfort of the human beings here on earth!
However it is difficult to find a sincere friend among the living. He who has found one, the Lord tells us again, has found an abundant treasure. Yet, if it is not easy to find a sincere friend among the living, it is easier to find a beloved friend among the deceased. The deceased are loyal friends to us. The deceased embrace us. They speak with the intimacy of souls in love; they invite us to sit at the table of their wise pondering.
What do they tell us all along? Listen to them, and you will think that you are listening to the voice of an angel that has just come down from paradise. They speak indeed as wise teachers: “Life in this world is like mist that rises from the ground right after the summer showers and quickly vanishes in the air. The life of a man on earth is like the life of a little flower which, lovely as it can be, sprouts forth luxuriant in the morning, bends down its little leaves at noon and finally droops to die in the evening. Man’s life on earth is like an hour that God in His goodness has given to him to prepare himself for eternity. You are pilgrims, and you must hasten as pilgrims do. Keep yourselves free from the burden of sins, wear clothes of virtue, choose heavenly guides, a guardian angel, and then hasten your steps.
At the evening of life there is no more suitable time to journey. At that point who cares for the glories or riches or pleasures of life? Make haste! Hurry up! What does it matter if you gained the whole world of glory, yet you had to spend one single additional hour of pain in purgatory? Believe me. Only what gives health and perfection to the soul is useful here on earth. We can carry to the world of eternity nothing but the bundle of good or evil deeds we have accomplished.”
Thus the holy souls speak to our hearts. Thus they convince us of the vanity of human things. To hinder our heart from being taken over by thoughts of sadness, they quickly come back to us to console us. Listen to what they say, because they will sound like angels of comfort.
“Come on, why fear?” those dear souls say to us. “Hope in the Lord. Lift up, lift up your hearts. One more moment and you will be saved. For one day of suffering, the compassionate God has assigned contentment for eternity. Do not be sorry for bearing with some suffering. Have you shed your blood so far? Jesus Christ bore wounds on His body, was distressed in His mind and His heart was pierced by many swords of agony. Yet He was innocent! You are sinners, yet what have you borne? Lift up your hearts. God does not deny His help to anyone.”
At this point an intimate loving connection is made. The living join the deceased and it seems that both savor being at the same table of spiritual enjoyment.
In this way the living beings feast at the table with the deceased. In this way the deceased receive comfort at the table with the living. Holy faith, how admirable you are! You are as merciful as the Heart of Jesus that has generated you. You are as powerful as the arm of the Most High that has formed you. My brothers and sisters let us never stop this loving conversation. May the living be with the deceased always! They will be with us to obtain good for the sake of these poor souls of ours.

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2 thoughts on “The Deceased: Friends of the Living

  1. This is so true. Remembering the dead connects us to them. In a way, memorializing the dead is a form of gratitude for the life they had, and our connection to them through our memorials can rekindle our love for each other by reminding us how precious the life we have is. This is what I wrote about in one of my recent blog posts: http://communitasblog.com/2015/10/31/joy-in-mourning-during-all-souls-month/

    Thank you for sharing these words of insight.

    1. JMJ
      Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am quite certain that the work you do as a doctor is very important and rewarding, but the seeds you are planting as a husband and head of a holy household are absolutely invaluable. I admire your faith and hope you will be able to walk to Compestela with your children someday. May God continue to bless you abundantly.

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