Wednesday, November 10, 2010

In Paradisum

Death, for me, seems to come in threes. I've lost count of the times that I've had three funerals in the one week. Once even three on the same day. With this being the month of the Holy Souls it's not surprising that our minds are turned, in a sense, towards the great mystery of death, but with the news of the death of a teenage lad that I'd once taught I had this funny queasy feeling that there was more to come. That was ten days ago. Since then the parish caretaker, in his fifties, has died suddenly and then yesterday I got news of the accidental death of the 18 year old son of a family I know. Of your charity pray for Andre, Derek and John.

One of the great failures of recent times has 'renewal' of the funeral rites. To be quite honest I frequently avoid them if I suspect there's going to be some attempt at canonizing the departed. This is not to suggest that we shouldn't preach the hope of the Resurrection but rather that to say that the recently deceased is already in Heaven is presumption beyond belief and pastoral negligence. They need our prayers. To strip them of this comfort as they pass through Purgatory is cruelty. To deprive the mourners of the spiritual tools for realistic and healthy grief is inhumane. In the Occident how often, by the way, do you see much white in a congregation at a funeral?

Each of the faithful departed that I mentioned had very significant women left to mourn them. We now commit them to the prayers of Our Lady, Queen of Purgatory. praying that, in God's good time,  they will come to the joys of Heaven.


  1. Yes Father, Requiescant in Pace.

    One of the things we have lost since Vat II and the vernacular liturgy is the practice of people having their own Missals! It began at First Communion when you received a Children’s Missal bound in white. Later, you progressed to an ‘adult’ Missal, probably around Confirmation time.

    While the Missal helped you to follow the Mass in Latin and provided you with useful prayers and devotions, it served another purpose too: a repository for In Memoriam cards of your deceased relatives and friends. This served as a constant reminder of those who had gone before, the need to pray for them always – and your own mortality.

    Yes, we have been short-changing the Holy Souls in Purgatory for a lot of years and we need to return to praying for the repose of their souls. And not just in November - but every day. It is a work of charity, affirming the Mystical Body of Christ. There’s also some ‘self-interest’ in it as one day - mostly likely - we too will need those prayers ourselves.

  2. I, too have observed how deaths come in threes. When one comes, I now wait for the next two, and it is remarkable how often it comes out like that.


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