Monday, November 16, 2009

Do Something Beautiful about Death

Yesterday, we attended the visitation for one of Jocelyn's relatives who died suddenly while visiting family in the Philippines.

The week before last, we attended the funeral for the brother of a friend of ours who had been sick for some time.

I always have a hard time talking to surviving family members at times like these, because I'm never sure what to say. It's for this reason that I was particularly touched this morning when I read Father Anthony Brankin's reflection in this week's bulletin [PDF], because it's exactly what I needed to hear.

Our local parish, St. Odilo, is the National Shrine of the Poor Souls. And, this being the month of November—the month of the Poor Souls—Fr. Brankin wrote about how and why we pray for the dead.

These thoughts in particular spoke to me:

We can actually do something for those who have died. Rather than stand by helpless and mute in the face of the death of our loved ones, Our Lord has provided a means for us to help them.

Has your father or mother died? Your spouse? Your grandparents? Your best friend? Perhaps (or probably) they are in Purgatory. Can you imagine their joy in Purgatory when Our Lord comes to them and tells them that you gained a plenary indulgence for them and they can now enter heaven. That’s how I imagine it.

And not only did we help them get to heaven by our prayers and indulgences, we help ourselves by feeling their very living presence in the very act of praying!

What a great month - November - a month that provides us so much opportunity for meditation on death, as well as an opportunity to do something beautiful about it.

These thoughts are what I needed to hear because they reminded me about what the Catholic Church is all about—namely, that there is really only one reason why the Church exists, and that is to help her children get to heaven.

And we, as her children here on earth, have it as our calling to assist her in her duty, despite any feelings of unease (or worse) we may encounter along the way.


Michelle said...

Give my condolences to Jocelyn. Was it a close relative, or distant?

Our new pastor is big on preaching about and praying for the souls in purgatory, especially this month. He is reading a book about a saint (I think) who had been visited by the souls in purgatory since she was a little girl. There was one woman who visited her regularly and told her she was in purgatory because of her habit of gossiping in this world. She apparently had some sores or something around her mouth. This sister started praying for her and each time she appeared to her she looked more and more normal, until one day she appeared to her more beautiful than ever and thanked her for freeing her from purgatory by her prayers.

The Dutchman said...

Each Friday I dedicate my daily Rosary to the souls in Purgatory and I usually dedicate another one during the week to the soul of a departed friend. After praying for conversions (which, being a convert myself, I find to be of paramount importance in my prayer life), praying for the soul in Purgatory is my central concern.