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Reflection

All Souls Day 2011

In thinking about All Souls Day, I came upon this. In 988 CE, the abbot Odilo of the Cluny monastery in France wrote of November 2’s feast: “[keep] with joyous affection the memory of all the faithful departed who have lived from the beginning of the world until the end.”

However, when I first read this, I read it quickly and went off to work. What I “read” was: keep the memory of all who have died.

My mind played with that thought all day – remembering saints and sinners; wondering about “cave persons;” Adolph Hitler crossed my mind as did Muammar Gaddafi. Pharaoh and the midwives who saved Moses as well as Ruth and Naomi became part of this amazing parade.

Well, as I say, I was busy assembling my “cast” all day and awed by the creativity of Providence, sobered by the freedom God gives us to choose “life or death” as we walk on Earth.

I wondered about the ultimate outcome of our choices for life or death. How does our God, of unbounded mercy and compassion, “deal with” one who made choice after choice for death?

Suffice it to say “Odilo’s thought” captured my imagination and prompted quite a bit of reflection on my part. So I decided to base this reflection on that “quote”.

I then went back to the November 2011 issues of Living with Christ to reread the quotation and, of course, noted the words I had omitted – remember “with joyous affection all the faithful departed.”

Now doesn’t that put a different spin on things?

After the wide array of “souls” my misreading had brought to mind and heart, after remembering some with prayers for mercy and others with prayers of gratitude, after being awed by the total otherness of a loving God—I felt uncomfortable remembering only the faithful departed.
(Though I certainly have so many I remember “with joyous affection.”)

Up against the deadline for this reflection, I have to leave you with my unresolved thoughts and feeling re: All Souls Day!

No matter what, I do bless the God of Surprises who so graciously provided me with a chance to see again – in a new way – a very meaningful feast day – no matter how I look at it.

Be assured that the Sisters of Providence will remember your beloved departed ones throughout the month of November. Providence bless you!

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Sister Denise Wilkinson

Sister Denise was the general superior of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods from 2006-2016. She previously served as a high school teacher, college administrator, postulant/novice director and director of advancement and communications for the Congregation. Currently, Sister Denise serves the Congregation in various volunteer positions.

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