This week given the beginning of November, I thought I would focus briefly on the Holy Souls.
I know some of you will be dealing with a recent bereavement and perhaps some of you are dealing with the unresolved grief of a loved one. My deepest sympathies. Having to deal with the death of a loved one is one of the most painful experiences we endure in this life. When my Mum died in 2016, it felt like my heart was broken.
There is something very comforting for us in remembering our beloved dead. Writing their names in our memorial book, lighting a candle, having Masses offered, visiting their graves if possible and placing flowers there are tangible ways of reconnecting with them and keeping them close to our hearts.
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In our deepest sorrow Christ understands
On November the 2nd, for the last several years, I have been invited to share in the Remembrance Day at the Mercy Hospice here in Auckland to name and remember all those who have died over the past year. As a man and as a priest, I always feel deeply privileged to be part of this service. As a contribution, I often sing, ‘A place at the table’ as people come forward to light a candle in front of their loved one’s photograph placed on the table. You may find it helpful to listen to the song yourself today from the album of the same name or to watch my YouTube presentation of it as you remember those close to you who have died.
As we read in the Gospels, Jesus knew the anguish and pain of death and he felt the desolation and loss of his Father at that moment. Even in our deepest sorrows Christ understands what we go through when the loss of a loved one seems too much to bear and we are asked to deal with the resulting grief and loneliness.
The women who went to the tomb during that first Easter, felt deeply the loss of Jesus and no doubt carried the pain and shame of what they had witnessed a few days before. They went to carry out what their customs required to anoint the body of Jesus.
For those of us who are Catholic, our tradition calls us to pray for our dead especially throughout this month. We believe our communion with them crosses the boundaries of space and time. We remember them to God because they are still part of us and we are still part of them. We believe our prayers assist them to enjoy the fullness of the Resurrection and we pray that our continued love and remembrance of them and our trust and hope in the Risen Christ will allow the stone of our grief and sorrow to be rolled away.
Eternal rest grant to them O Lord
And let perpetual light shine upon them
May they rest in peace.