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“The Souls of the Just Are In The Hands of God”
“The souls of the just are in the hands of God and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction. But they are in peace. For if before men, indeed they be punished, yet is their Hope full of immortality; chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself. As gold in the furnace, he proved them and as sacrificial offerings, he took them to himself. In the time of their visitation they shall shine, and shall dart about as sparks through stubble; they shall judge Nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord shall be their King forever. Those who trust in him shall understand truth, and the faithful shall abide with him in love: because grace and mercy are with his Holy Ones, and his care is with his elect.”
As I write, on this snowy night in late October, I looked into google, concerning Covid 19...
“Authorities in 215 countries and territories have reported about 42.5 million Covid 19 cases and and 1.1 million deaths since China reported its first cases to the World Health Organization in December.”
This image was commissioned for All Souls Church in Denver, Colorado when a dear friend of our family, Fr Robert Fisher, was pastor. All Souls Day or The Day of the Dead, is November 2, following All Saints Day, November 1, and of course the night before, October 31, is called All Hallow’s Eve, or Halloween. It has always been believed by cultures round the world, that this time of year, the Souls come closest to the earth. In my experience this coming close starts around October 15 and lasts about a month until November 15...which happens to be 40 days until Christmas. The first Sunday of Advent this year, is on the anniversary of the Servant of God Dorothy Day’s passing into God, November 29th. Because of Covid 19, never before in my lifetime have so many souls around the world have continually “passed into the Light of His presence.” These constant deaths have caused us all to reflect on our brief time on earth. The ancient Buddhist teachings encourage people to keep their certain death always before them. As Christian Catholics we have many paintings (El Greco especially) showing saints like Francis, Mary Magdalen or Jerome, contemplating a skull. We keep photos of those we have loved and lost, in a way, this is contemplating our own certain departure and a hope that we will be with them forever. For many people this continues to be a lonely and horrific time, that seems unending. It’s very difficult at times, to reassure ourselves that our death is just the beginning of Eternal Life. St Paul then reminds us that this is not wrong or unusual, but a part of being human...”For now (in this time of imperfection) we see through a glass darkly (a blurred reflection, a riddle, an enigma) but then (when the time of perfection comes we will see reality) face to face. Now I know in part (just in fragments) but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known by God.” 1 Corinthians 13:12, (from the Amplified Bible).
For me, the most comforting part of that passage from Paul, is that I’ve (you’ve) always been known by God, even before I (we) knew God. I began to draw and paint images relating to that longing for God as a little kid. Now they’ve graduated into icons, and paintings perhaps more polished, but I look upon all my work as a child as just as telling as my adult work. For it’s not just polished technique that speaks to the heart, but the heart-longing-prayer that goes into the drawing, painting or icon.
And now for all the Holy Souls, we sing and pray...
“May Light Eternal” 🎶🎶🎶
“May light eternal shine upon them, O Lord,
with your saints forever, for you are merciful.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and
let perpetual light shine upon them,
with your saints forever,
for you are merciful,
with your saints forever,
for you are merciful.”
From the “Funeral Folk Mass”
By Rev. Ian Douglas Mitchell, 1967
Fr Bill McNichols 💮 October 2020