All Souls (November 2, 2017)

Today we celebrate the Feast of All Souls. In today’s Gospel, we experience Jesus revealing that we are made for eternal life. St. Francis de Sales notes:

From the heights of heaven, Jesus Christ mercifully looks down upon you and graciously invites you there. He says, “Come, dear soul, and find everlasting rest in my bountiful arms. I have prepared undying delight for you in the abundance of my love.”

Consider the nobility and excellence of your soul. Our soul is spiritual and immortal. It resides in the whole body. It understands; it wills freely. It is capable of knowing, of reasoning, of judging, and of having virtue. In all this it resembles God, who placed you in this world to give you grace and glory. You ask, “How shall my soul, from now on, be wholly subject to God who has effected so many wonders and graces in me?”

As bees remain only among living flowers, so also our hearts find rest solely in God. God does not will that our heart find a place of rest. Just like the dove that went out from Noah’s ark only to return to him, so we must return to God, who has ordered us to acquire holy virtues. True virtue goes ever forward to God. Yet, we ought not be troubled at finding ourselves always beginners in the exercise of virtue. The greatest boon for our souls is that in this fleeting life, they can still grow without limit in their love of God.

Let us do everything to acquire holy virtues, but if we find our progress in holiness wanting, let us remain in peace, and diligently strive to do better in the future. It is for us to cultivate our souls well, and we must faithfully attend to them. But as for plentiful crops, that is for God to give. Go forward then to eternity. Put away anything that leads you astray or delays you on the journey. Remind your soul that it is worthy of eternity. Fill your soul with courage, and thank God who made you for so exalted an end.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales, especially the Introduction to the Devout Life.)