Commemoration of the Faithful Departed

Oct 29, 2020 | Gospel Reflections

John 6: 37-40

Feast Day Reflection by Sister Betty Smoyer, SNDdeN

Our hearts are stretched wide as we gather in the love of deceased relatives, friends, co-workers and community members on this All Souls Day. Our hearts are stretched as we pray for all those who have died of Covid-19.  Our hearts are broken open as we add the names of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery to those countless other men and women of color who were and continue to be killed by our institutionalized sin of racism and white supremacy.  Our grieving hearts stretch even further still as we pray for refugees and asylum seekers who have died searching for a community to live in that respects their human dignity.  We pray today for countless women, men and children who have died at the borders of social, political, cultural and financial systems and the borders of our aching hearts.

Wisdom reminds us that the souls of the just are in the hand of God. The dead are in peace. Paul draws us into the mystery of the ends times, the fullness of the realm of God: all of us, the dead and any who still live, will be changed. John reminds us that we are all held in the love of Christ.  This agape love without limits flows through him as he does the will of his Father. That is the love that saves all, holds all, blesses all no matter what.

Notice that all three readings speak from a communal reality.  We all have many people we grieve today because our life is always embedded in the human family.

We can’t exist alone. We are people of communities of faith, and local, national and international belonging. There are countless ancestors whose love and mistakes reverberate in our bodies and souls and between and among us all.

Perhaps, as we remember the ones we knew personally while they walked with us on this earth, we can stretch our hearts and minds to remember or learn anew the stories of deceased loved ones dear to members of other communities existing around us. Perhaps we can include the loved ones of those with whom we are estranged or polarized.

Perhaps we can call on all the deceased to pray for us all. Surely we believe they desire to welcome us deeper into healing relationship. Surely they desire to share that wide, merciful and forgiving flow of love that God offers all creation through our saving brother, the Risen Christ. May our prayer for the dead and their prayer for us stretch our hearts into new ways of seeing and relating. May we find ourselves in the realm of God where all belong.

“God’s mighty love is stronger than death. Christ our light shines forever.” – from “Most Holy Night” by Dan Schutte


John 6: 37-40

Jesus said to the crowds:
“Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.”

The Gospel of the Lord


Meet Sister Betty Smoyer, SNDdeN

After graduation from Notre Dame High School, Moylan, Pennsylvania and two years of college, Sr. Elizabeth (Betty) Smoyer entered the Sisters of Notre Dame on September 11, 1966. On completion of her undergraduate studies in Music Education, Sr. Betty returned to Notre Dame High School where she taught music and religion for nine years. while completing graduate studies in Music Education. After a year of Parish Social Ministry at Holy Child Parish in Philadelphia, Sr. Betty assumed a position as a Campus Minister at Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana in 1981. As a member of the Campus Ministry Team, she led the college’s Liturgical Music Program establishing liturgical and hand bell choirs and training a variety of other liturgical musicians. She retired from Saint Mary’s in June of 2009. She spent the next ten years ministering at St. Margaret’s House in South Bend, Indiana, a day center for women and children in poverty. She continues ministry with the SND USA Anti-Racism Team, the SND Base Communities Unit Communications Network and the people of St. Augustine Church, Catholic parish in the African American tradition in South Bend, Indiana