As we move through this month of November and focus on the last weeks of the church year, I am reminded of what November means for the church and the secular year.
Gratitude is the secular theme—what we are thankful for in our daily lives. But during this month in the church, we also remember and are thankful for the lives of those who are no longer with us, those who we miss and who we are grateful to for having graced our lives.
During the month of November, in a special way, we are reminded of those loved ones who have died and gone before us. Here at St. Mary we commemorate their passing in a ‘Book of Remembrance’ that is placed on a stand in the hall for anyone to place the name of a deceased loved one. They are part of what we call the ‘communion of saints.’ We are all part of it in fact—we the living who strive to live our lives according to Jesus’ teaching (called the Church Militant) and those who have gone before us in death (the Church Suffering in Purgatory and the Church Triumphant in Heaven).
In my ministry as Coordinator of Pastoral Care here at St. Mary, I have the privilege of walking with families who have lost a loved one, particularly in planning the funeral of the deceased. I continue to be surprised and blessed by the touching and beautiful, albeit bittersweet, time this is in a family’s lives. While it is sad and sometimes tragically so for most families, it is a time of hope and solace. The church that baptized their loved one, and saw them through their sacraments is now there for the final step, to bring them to their final resting place, celebrate their life on earth, and celebrate as they are welcomed into their new life in Christ. This is a profound and time-stopping event—it reminds me of the birth of a child—the world around us stands still for a few days, while we celebrate and honor the person who has died.
And I am always reminded, as people reminisce about their loved one, that he/she is not gone. Gone from sight maybe, but not gone from the hearts and memories of those who loved them, continuing to live on in the communion of saints in heaven. A member now of the Church Triumphant. So when we are praying to our favorite saints, we can also include Aunt Betty, Grandma Lois and all those who gave good advice here on earth. And we can ask their advice and guidance from their heavenly perch and ask them to look over us.
Know you are in our thoughts and prayers as we come to the close of another church year and this Year of Mercy. Thank you for your continued support and for allowing us to be with you on this journey of faith.
Blessings and Peace,