Archbishop Alexander Sample gives a homily online Nov. 2 in which he says he was nudged to pray for his mother, who died three years ago.
Archbishop Alexander Sample gives a homily online Nov. 2 in which he says he was nudged to pray for his mother, who died three years ago.
A list of more than 500 names, western Oregon Catholics who have died in the past year, appeared on the screen before an All Souls Day Mass livestreamed Nov. 2 from St. Mary Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland.

Usually held at the two Portland-area Catholic cemeteries, the Masses were combined into one and offered online because of the COVID-19 pandemic. About 1,000 people viewed the liturgy.

The readings offered a sense of God’s great love. From the Book of Wisdom: “The souls of the just are in the hand of God.” Deacon Scott Kolbet read a passage from the Gospel of John that included this: “I will not reject anyone who comes to me.”

Archbishop Alexander Sample reminded viewers that we are still in communion with those who have died. “They pray for us as we pray for them,” the archbishop said, explaining that according to church teaching those who have died likely go through a purification before seeing God face to face and need our prayers.

To illustrate his point, he told a personal story that has to do with his mother, Joyce, who died in Portland three years ago.

One day this fall, the archbishop had a few couples over for dinner. One pair brought flowers — his mother’s favorite kind. The other brought a jar of lemon drops — his mother’s favorite candy. He remarked that he wished she could be there, but did not think much of it.

The next day, as he was being introduced to give an online talk, the organizers put a photo of him with his mother on the screen. He was touched, but still did not grasp the big picture.

The next morning he received a notification that someone had liked one of his tweets. When he looked, he found the tweet cited was from three years ago: “Please pray for my mother Joyce, as she seems to be entering her final hours. She could really use your prayers.”

He put it all together.

“OK, Mom, I get it,” he said to himself. “You are trying to tell me something.” His mother, he believes, was asking him to pray for her.

“Death does not separate us from our loved ones,” the archbishop said. “The bonds of love and affection that were knitted in this life are not dissolved by death.”

He urged listeners to pray for their faithful departed and said he would remember those who have no one to pray for them.

“We offer this Mass for all of them, that they be quickly ushered into what they were made for, eternal life in the kingdom of heaven.”