Saturday, October 30, 2010


Our scroll of the faithful departed from November 1, 2009 to October 31 2010

Requiems and odds and ends

The month of November is dedicated to remembering our “Faithful Departed.” Tuesday, November 2nd is “All Souls Day.” For a second year in a row at 7:00 PM, we are happy to celebrate this Commemoration of the Faithful Departed as a Solemn High Sung Latin Mass in the Extraordinary Form. Our choirs will once again perform the Fauré Requiem. Last year’s performance was quite moving and very beautiful. If you have never attended the Extraordinary Form of the Mass in Latin, this will be a wonderful opportunity for you to acquaint yourself with the beauty, majesty and spirituality of this form of the Mass. Fr. Daniel Firmin our former parochial vicar and now the Chancellor for the Diocese of Savannah will be the celebrant and homilist for this Commemoration of All Souls.

The Extraordinary Form of the Mass for the Dead does not mask the reality of death or the Church’s prayer that the faithful departed are in need of purification as they face the judgment throne of God. This form of the Mass of the dead also includes the singing of the “Dies Iræ” or “Day of Wrath” as a sequence following the reading of the Epistle. It does not mince words about the fear we anticipate and experience at the judgment seat of God and our eventual purification. This is no canonization ceremony as seems to happen so often in our Funeral Masses in the Ordinary Form!

For Christians, the denial of death and grief is a psychological mask which covers our authentic feelings, although temporarily suppressed immediately after a loved one dies. The Church teaches us that if we have died in Christ, we will live forever with Him in heaven. While this moderates our expression of grief, since we believe in the afterlife in heaven and therefore we do not mourn like those who have no faith, we should be encouraged to come to terms even in a public liturgical way, with our sense of loss and the desolation this can or will bring. There is no reason why we should not symbolize our grief with the moderate use of dirges and other somber symbols. This can be quite cathartic in the long-run, for it allows the true grief that might well be suppressed to bubble forth, like lancing a wound.

Finally, we must rediscover not only the sacredness of life, but also the sacredness of our body, both in life and in death. The strange cultural phenomenon we see today where people mutilate their bodies with tattoos and piercings should be a cause for some alarm. After death, this contempt for the body shows itself in a variety of ways. As Catholics we must buck the trend to disregard the human body both in life and death.

In the past the Church did not allow for cremation because non-Christian cultures which use cremation did so because they did not view the human body as sacred and also denied the resurrection of the body. They have no doctrinal belief that in baptism, the body becomes a temple of the Holy Spirit.

Christians bury bodies in cemeteries as a symbol of our belief that our bodies are sacred and await the resurrection of the body at the end of time when Jesus shall return in a visible way to judge the living and the dead. Cemeteries are actually blessed sacramentals of waiting for the advent of the Second Coming. Even though the Church now allows for cremation, Catholic Church law still expects that the remains of cremation be given a proper Christian burial or entombment in a cemetery columbary to wait the day of the resurrection. Scattering ashes on land or water, as well as keeping them on a fireplace mantle or worse yet, in some closet or attic does not show the proper reverence we should have for the dead or our anticipation of the resurrection of the body at the end of time.

May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Requiescant in pace.


SqueekerLamb said...

It was as outstanding and beautiful as last year!

A glorious funeral mass for all the faithful departed.

Isn't it great to be Catholic?!
Much better than the "Reformation Day" bulletin board I had to look at as I waited to vote right before mass.

Gene said...

Truly a beautiful service. The choir was marvelous. Thank you so much for instituting this at St. Joseph's.