CHARLESTON—Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone brought a Northern tradition to life in the South when he celebrated Mass at Holy Cross Cemetery on All Souls’ Day.
A large crowd braved the overcast, chilly weather to attend the outdoor service dedicated to remembering and honoring our deceased loved ones.
Bishop Guglielmone, a native New Yorker, said the weather was fine for him, but he hoped it would be a little warmer for the rest of the faithful.
In his homily, the bishop spoke about the difference between All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.
He said his reflections were based on the Gospel lesson of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Martha and Mary were upset because Jesus did not arrive in time to save Lazarus and he died. So Jesus raised him up, but eventually Lazarus died again, and then what, the bishop asked.
It all boils down to the meaning of life, he said.
“Do you believe that I am the meaning of life?” Jesus asks, and in the Gospel the answer is an immediate affirmative. But Bishop Guglielmone said he doesn’t think that is how it happened at the time. He said there was probably silence, and then the answer was: “Lord, we have come to believe.”
It is a process, he said.
“Even salvation, even entrance into the kingdom, is not an either or; it’s a process. We go through our life here on earth and it is a process. A process where we constantly, hopefully, are getting closer and closer and closer to the potential that is in each and every one of us for God.”
Bishop Guglielmone cited St. Augustine, who said our souls are restless until they rest in God. This is why mankind can find moments of fulfillment, but is always wondering if that is all and is always searching for more.
He said each person reaches complete and total intimacy with God at a different point in life, and many have not reached it at the time they die. For those, there is a period of purification, a time to reach total intimacy with God, and the church teaches that is purgatory.
All Saints’ Day celebrates those who have reached their potential.
“The canonized saints and the uncanonized saints. My grandmother, certainly, is a saint. She’s made it. My mother I think has made it. My father, well, I don’t know. He might still be in process,” the bishop said, eliciting a laugh from the crowd.
And that’s where All Souls’ Day comes in, he said. It is a time to pray for all those who are still striving for that perfect intimacy.
“That’s what it’s all about. We continually follow in the process until we reach that fullness of intimacy with God. And that’s why we pray for the dead.”
He said the bond of love we shared with friends and family is not severed by death, and added that the church calls on us to remember that bond and those who have gone before us.
“We’re all connected with Christ at the center,” Bishop Guglielmone said.
Almost everyone who attended lingered after the service to speak with the bishop or visit relatives buried at Holy Cross.
Warren Stuckey, diocesan director of cemeteries, estimated the crowd to be just under 200.
Those who attended dressed in layers and sat with blankets over their laps, except for a few warm-blooded souls in shorts or thin shirts. Everyone who spoke to The Miscellany said it was a wonderful service and they would definitely come again.