Remember our dearly departed

Each November we gather as a Christian Community to remember those who have gone before us and to offer our consolation and support to those among us who have been recently bereaved. In Ireland, death is encased by prayer and rituals that for generations have become part of the rich heritage of our faith tradition.

In March 2020, the traditions upon which we drew solace were snatched from us as we sought to keep our communities safe in the midst of a pandemic. There are many families who by necessity had to relinquish the opportunity to be with their loved one in their final moments of this life, to hear the stories and words of sympathy at the wake house and to experience the gathering of the community at a Requiem Mass. Family life is challenged by the death of a loved one, the challenge can feel all the greater when we cannot access support in the usual way. At this time of challenge, we offer the light of faith as a support to families in their time of loss.

The grieving process takes time. Each stage of grief has its own demands and the process is unique to each one of us. When we look to the Gospel, we see how Jesus was deeply moved and began to weep at the death of a close friend. (Jn 11:33-35) Each of us can understand that there is great anguish felt by those who have lost a much-loved person. With a sincere and patient process of prayer and interior freedom, peace returns. “Love is as strong as death” (Song 8:6). We are invited to love those who have departed from us in a new way. Love involves an intuition that can enable us to hear without sounds and to see the unseen. This does not mean imagining our loved ones as they were, but being able to accept them changed as they now are. The risen Jesus, when his friend Mary tried to embrace him, told her not to hold on to him (cf. Jn 20:17), in order to lead her to a different kind of encounter. It consoles us to know that those who die do not completely pass away, and faith assures us that the risen Lord will never abandon us. Scripture tells us that God created us out of love and made us in such a way that our life does not end with death (cf. Wis 3:2-3). And that with Christ, after death, there awaits us “what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor 2:9).

The above message is taken from “November, a month to remember our dearly departed”.

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