Friday, November 2, 2012

Blessed are they

Our parish -- St. Markthe Evangelist in Norman -- has a lovely tradition for All Souls Day (today’s feast, November 2).

At a special evening Mass commemorating and remembering all the faithful departed, parishioners are invited to process in carrying a candle in honor of the person(s) they are honoring in a special way. At the conclusion of Mass, the memorial candles are placed at the Font of Baptism, where sacramental life begins, and are kept burning during the coming week. 

The Book of Remembrance (or Book of the Dead), with all the names we have written on it, is brought to the altar as part of the procession. Throughout the month of November, the Book will be placed upon the altar at each Mass, uniting us with those who have gone before us into everlasting life.

As our pastor explained, 
Believing that death cannot (and therefore does not) separate us from one another, we are reminded by these feasts that all who have gone before us are still with us in spirit… For me, the celebration of All Souls is a  kind of  “Autumn Easter” when we enter into winter’s time of rest, and look forward in faith and hope to an awakening in spring.” 
Perhaps my favorite part of the evening’s tradition, however, is the music. Throughout the Mass, the choir incorporates special musical pieces from the Requiem by contemporary British composer John Rutter.

Here is the 7th and final movement from the Requiem, "Lux Aeterna"
performed by the Orchestra and Choir from the Universidad Tecnológica de Pereira, Columbia

"I heard of voice from heaven
Saying unto me
Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord
For they rest
For they rest
For they rest from their labors"

And for those of you who are interested, here's a video of John Rutter explaining the personal and musical impetuses that led him to begin working on the piece: