“Every year, after the solemnity of Saint Francis, each local fraternity shall celebrate a commemoration of all deceased brothers, sisters, relatives, and benefactors.”
Ordinances of the General Chapters, 3/2
In the same spirit, today we remember all the deceased of the Franciscan families and their benefactors.
A reading from the book of Saint Ambrose on the death of his brother Satyrus
Bk. 2, 4o, 41, 46, 47, 132, 133
We must die with Christ if we wish to live with him
It is obvious that death is a gain and life a penalty. Saint Paul says it: “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” What does Christ mean to us here if not the death of the body and the breath of life? And so we must, die with him in order to live with him. There should be in us a daily habit and disposition towards dying so that our soul may learn to cut away all carnal desires and take on itself the likeness of death, by seeing things as from the height of heaven, out of reach of the lusts of the world, where they cannot bind it to themselves: so it shall escape the punishment of spiritual death. The law of the ﬂesh, we know, wars against the law of the mind enmeshing it in the law of error. And what remedy have we? “Who will deliver me from the body of this death? The grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Indeed we have a healer, so let us make use of his remedy. Our remedy is Christ’s grace and “the body of death” means our physical nature. Therefore we must exile ourselves from our bodies lest we be exiled from Christ. Even though we are still in the body we should not desire the things of the ﬂesh, and while not denying all natural appetites we should prize the gifts of grace above all.
Why say more? The world has been redeemed by one man’s death. Christ need not have died unless he had willed it, yet he did not think a shameful death a thing to be avoided, nor that there was any better way to save us than by dying. So his death is every man’s life. We are signed and sealed by his death. It is his death we proclaim when we pray, that we preach when we offer sacriﬁce and, year by year, it is the world’s great feast.
What more can be said of his death? ‘We see from his divine example that only death has sought immortality, that death itself has redeemed death. Is it, then, a thing to be mourned when it is the cause of universal salvation? Shall we ﬂy from it when the Son of God did not despise it, did not ﬂy from it?
Certainly, death was no part of nature, but was made a part of it afterwards. God did not ordain death in the beginning of things: but he gave it to us as a remedy when that damnable sin brought toil and tears into human life. These sorrows had to be brought to an end so that death might bring back what life had thrown away. Deathlessness is no blessing but only a weariness if grace does not transﬁgure it.
Our souls must free themselves from the toils of this life and from the stain of fallen human nature. They must ﬁght their way to the heavenly assembly, undeterred by the thought that it belongs to saints to attain it: the saints who sing God’s praises as they wake their harps to music. Those praises we read in the book of Revelation: “Great and wonderful are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the ages! Who shall not fear and glorify your name, O Lord? For you alone are holy. All nations shall come and worship you.” Jesus, it is he the saints’ privilege to witness your espousals, in which the bride is led from an earthly home to her heavenly one ‐ the psalmist says: “To you all ﬂesh will come.” She comes accompanied by songs of rejoicing, not subject now to this world but betrothed for ever to the Spirit.
This is what holy David desired above everything: to see these things with an understanding eye. Finally he says: “One thing have I asked the Lord, this I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, that I may behold the beauty of the Lord.”
you are the glory of believers
and the life of the just.
Your Son redeemed us
by dying and rising to life again.
Since our departed brothers, sisters, relatives, and benefactors
believed in the mystery of our resurrection,
let them share the joys and blessings of the life to come.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with your and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.