For Those Who’ve Gone Before Us

Welcome to November! Last night I preached for the dorm community where I live, and there was a lot of energy in the chapel from the 150+ students gathered there. That’s not always the case, believe me! So in all of that excitement I preached to them about…death. Not exactly what they were expecting, I don’t think, but if they looked at the calendar or had a little extra liturgical training they would have known we are nearing the end of the Church’s liturgical year. This is the part of the calendar where we hear in our Scripture readings about death, and the end times. It’s fitting to do so, really, as we end the year and look toward Advent. We don’t revel in death, but we know that in death life is changed, not ended, and we recognize the brevity of our life on this earth. This is a time when we can renew our faith, strengthen our call to holiness, and resolve to walk more fully in the light of Jesus Christ.

Recently we celebrated the funerals of two Holy Cross priests. Their ministerial lives were different, and yet their story was the same. Called by God and led by the Holy Spirit, they had come to the Congregation of Holy Cross to live, work, and to die in our religious family. During that same week we celebrated All Souls’ Day, where all of the Holy Cross religious in the area gathered for Mass and for a procession to our community cemetery. Often it is a quiet place, where you wouldn’t think of raising your voice much beyond a whisper. But we were reminded at Mass by Deacon Ryan Pietrocarlo that the cemetery is a great place to not only pray for the dead, but to celebrate them as well. So it was wonderful for older members of the Holy Cross community to share stories of the men buried there. It is indeed humbling to walk amidst those graves, to recall some of the folks who are buried there, and to realize that there are many whose stories aren’t written down, whose stories have been lost to time. They quietly lived their lives of ministry, daily taking up the task of living the Gospel, confident that the work they were about was truly God’s work. Our prayer that day was that they would be inscribed in the heavenly book of the saints, along with all those who have gone before us. We are called to follow this great band of men, to live our vows faithfully and zealously, and to know, love and serve God and thus save souls, as our holy founder Blessed Basil Moreau said.

As our Holy Father Pope Francis has asked just about every time he speaks with a group, so I ask you: Please pray for our vocations team, that we are given the wisdom to help everyone who is discerning God’s call, so that they may be fully alive in Christ. When we give our will to the Lord, amazing and almost unbelievable things can happen to us, no matter whether we are called to be a priest, a religious brother or sister, married or single. Jesus Christ our King beckons us to stay on the path, and He gives us the light and the strength to serve our brothers and sisters in His name.

Let us pray in this month of November for all those who have gone before us, marked with the sign of faith. “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.”

Prayer for Visiting a Cemetery

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,

and let perpetual light shine upon them.

May they rest in peace. Amen.

May their souls, and the souls of all the faithful departed

through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

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