Eternal Rest Grant Unto Them, O Lord
by Father Charles M. Mangan
Since the beginning of November, a span of less than three weeks, several persons I knew have died, including: Tim, my 44 year-old second-cousin; Eileen, my brother's mother-in-law who was 73 years-old; Jack, my 83 years-old college music professor; Jim, who was three years ahead of me in high school and was 44 years-old; Jerry, my 76 years-old former parishioner.
May the good and merciful Lord grant these souls Everlasting Life in Paradise and unparalleled peace to their grieving families on earth!
I count myself to be very fortunate that as a priest, unworthy as I am, I can offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the happy repose of each of these souls, not to mention for the entire body of the Faithful Departed in Purgatory--the Church Suffering. The "Catechism of the Catholic Church" asserts that the offering of the Mass is the most efficacious gift we can bestow on these Holy Souls.
A practice that I have adopted: I recite the Office for the Dead from the Liturgy of the Hours monthly. In this way, I especially recall, as the Mass declares, "those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith."
One of my favorite parts of the Office for the Dead is from the Office of Readings. An alternative Second Reading that presents a section of a letter written by Saint Braulio, Bishop of Saragossa, is furnished. What comfort it provides! Here is a short passage.
"Let the hope of resurrection encourage us, then, because we shall see again those whom we lose here below. Of course, we must continue to believe firmly in Christ; we must continue to obey His commandments. His power is so great that it is easier for Him to raise the dead to life that it is for us to arouse those who are sleeping, As we are saying all these things some unknown feeling causes us to burst into tears; some hidden feeling discourages the mind which tries to trust and to hope. Such is the sad human condition; without Christ all of life is utter emptiness.
"O death! You separate those who are joined to each other in marriage. You harshly and cruelly divide those whom friendship unites. But your power is broken. Your heinous yoke has been destroyed by the One Who sternly threatened you when Hosea cried out: 'O death! I shall be your death!' And with the words of the Apostle we, too, deride you: 'O death! When is your victory? O death! Where is your sting!'"
Remembering our beloved deceased who are in Purgatory is not only helpful to them but also comforting to us. Every time we pray for them, we assist them on their arduous journey to Heaven and we recognize the indescribable compassion of the Almighty.
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