On the first two days of November, the
Church celebrates God’s promise of immortality in Jesus Christ.
On the Solemnity of All Saints and the
Commemoration of All Souls we are invited to ponder with the eyes of faith the
mystery of time, eternity, and death itself. These liturgical celebrations
remind us that the human desire for immortality is concerned with not only our
physical bodies. Immortality is a spiritual reality made concrete in the lives
of the saints and the souls who precede us in faith.
Exemplary Christian Disciples
The Solemnity of All Saints, celebrated
each year on November 1, recalls the Catholic tradition of looking to saints as
models of faith and as intercessors on the faith journey.
In connecting catechesis to the Church’s
liturgical rhythms of feasts and fasts, catechists recall the particular saint
of each day. The liturgical year offers catechists a continuous cycle of
inspiration in the lived witness of individual holy men and women who are daily
reminders of our baptismal call to holiness.
One day in the Church’s calendar is given
to celebrating the entire company of saints as a community of exemplary
disciples of Christ. Taken together, this great assembly of the “holy ones”
gives catechists the opportunity to highlight the many ways in which human
potential has and can be transformed by God’s grace. The Communion of Saints
also offers a vision of Christian hope in eternal life—for the saints fulfill
their human desire for immortal life in the eternal presence of God.
the Faithful Departed
The commemoration of All Souls Day is
rooted in the Christian conviction that death is not the final word on the
human condition. The search for immortality finds its true end only in God.
So we, the living, are called in love to
accompany with prayer those who have died and are now being purified to stand
in the presence of God. To prepare for All Souls Day, invite special moments of
remembrance of lost loved ones. Such prayerful remembrance brings consolation
in separation and loss.
Catechists can encourage students to
recognize that grief is the other side of love. And the eternal side of human
love is the love of God.
In preparing to mark All Saints and All
Souls, catechists can find in these resources and activities some practical
ways to encourage reflection on the lives of the saints and prayerful
remembrance of all souls.
* Draw on the stories of the lives of
American saints found in the opening section of each chapter of the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults.
Discuss how these holy men and women show us concrete paths to live the gospel
* Purchase copies of Pope Benedict XVI’s The Saints (Spiritual Thoughts Series)
to distribute to students. Focus on one or more of the saints featured in this
book to invite reflection on the call to holiness addressed to every Christian.
* Encourage year-round study of the lives
of the saints by compiling a list of classic writings of well-known saints such
as St. Augustine’s Confessions, St.
Catherine of Siena’s The Dialogue, and The
Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales.
* Create a Book of Remembrance in which
students write personal prayers for lost loved ones. On All Souls Day, place
this book in church as a way to join these personal prayers with the Mass for
* Distribute prayer cards, such as the “Prayer
for the Dead,” that commends souls to the loving mercy of God.
We reflect on the lives of the saints in
order to better imitate their example. We remember souls to find consolation
and strength to live a life worthy of God. Both liturgical celebrations are
catechetical moments that recall that any human life open to God’s grace can be
transformed into a living reflection of Christ in this world and in the life to
Sullivan, Ph.D., is staff to the USCCB Secretariat of Evangelization and
Catechesis. She has served as a high school catechist and has taught
undergraduate and graduate theology. All titles mentioned are available from
USCCB Publishing (usccbpublishing.org).