All Saints, All Souls and Intercession

thumbnail18This excerpt from Ivan Turgenev’s novel, Fathers and Sons, was Magnificat’s Meditation for All Souls day, this past Sunday:

“There is a small village graveyard in one of the remote corners of Russia.  Like almost all of our graveyards, it presents a wretched appearance;  the ditches surrounding it have long been overgrown;  the grey wooden crosses lie fallen and rotting under their once painted gables;  the stone slabs are all displaced, as though someone were pushing them up from behind;  two or three bare trees give a scanty shade;  the sheep wander unchecked among the tombs….

“But among them is one untouched by man, untrampled by beast, only the birds perch upon it and sing at daybreak.  An iron railing runs round it;  two young fir trees have been planted, one at each end.  Yevgeny Bazarov is buried in this tomb.

“Often from the little village not far off, two quite feeble old people come to visit it–a husband and wife.  Supporting one another, they move to it with heavy steps;  they go up to the railing, fall down, and remain on their knees, and long and bitterly they weep, and yearn and intently gaze at the dumb stone, under which their son is lying;  they exchange some brief word, wipe away the dust from the stone, set straight a branch of a fir tree, and pray again, and cannot tear themselves from this place, where they seem to be nearer to their son, to their memories of him….

“Can it be that their prayers, their tears are fruitless?  Can it be that love, sacred, devoted love, is not all-powerful?  Oh, no!  However passionate, sinning, and rebellious the heart hidden in the tomb, the flowers growing over it peep serenely at us with their innocent eyes;  they tell us not of eternal peace alone, of that great peace of ‘indifferent’ nature;  they tell us too of eternal reconciliation and of life without end.”

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Further reading:  the Catechism of the Catholic Church, sections 1030-1032.

Shalom, JC

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