Dear Father, two thousand years ago, you brought your son, Jesus into this world to teach us the power of love and sacrifice. As we raise this tree, we remember His birth and the meaning of His life for us. Bless this tree as a symbol of our celebration of Jesus' birth and our gratitude for His sacrifice. May the light and joy which this tree brings soften the pain and sadness of those who have been bereaved by the sudden death or tragic suicide of a loved one. May the words spoken and the songs sung here break the silence of suicide and the heartbreak of the those bereaved. We ask your blessings upon our loved ones, this Christmas and always. Amen. (Fr. Michael)
Advent begins on this Sun. Nov. 27th. Indeed, the season of Advent will extend for four full weeks in 2016 as Christmas Day falls on a Sunday as well. Please God, Advent will be a prayerful time this year. During the past week, much of the Christmas excitement has commenced. ‘Black Friday’ has become a major commercial event marking the beginning of Christmas which was once reserved to the Holyday on Dec. 8th. However, many people and families in our community cannot enjoy this ‘commercial season’ because of the stress of life and the challenge to provide for children and family. Certainly, we can do much to help other children and families and particularly through the St. Vincent DePaul Society locally and nationally. Please God, we can use the coming weeks well to prepare spiritually realizing that not everything is immediate and the birth of Jesus is profoundly important for all our families and our parish.
We have been blessed with beautiful weather over the past few weeks. Please God, the mild temperatures and mostly dry days will stay with us into the start of November. Otherwise, it can be a very dreary time of the year reflective of the liturgical time of remembrance. Another beautiful aspect of this autumn has been the beautiful autumnal colours and the leaves that still cling to the trees awaiting the first strong wind that will invariably come. Fallen leaves that often melt into the ground reflect the cycle of life and death. We are all comfortable with the life aspect of that cycle but find death so difficult and painful. As always, Jesus Christ brings us to places where He has already gone Himself. That is the hope of our Christian remembrance and Christian prayer. Beginning on this Wed. Nov. 2nd, we will remember and pray for those who have died with reverence and love. We remember as a Christian people reassured by a new and eternal life for those who have died and Christian hope for the bereaved. Death is not a distressing fracture but a continuity of life into eternal life. May all who have died rest in the peace of the Lord.
The attendances at the blessing of graves in both Rathcooney and St. Catherine’s, Kilcully over the last two weekends have been enormous. People stand alone or in family groups to welcome the blessing and recite the prayers. Many other people visit at other times during November to remember and to pray. In our parish and in our area, there have been many bereavements during the past year and again in recent days. Many people have remarked that they found the parish bereavement Mass very comforting and are always amazed at the kindness and prayerful support of so many in their time of loss. Prayer and remembrance make us the people and the parish that we are and are hallmarks of a faith community. May God grant the eternal light of Heaven on all those who have died. May they rest in the peace of the Lord.
There has been a lot of sadness in our parish and in our area in recent weeks. It has not been an easy time for bereaved families, community and particularly local school communities. However, incredible resilience and personal support has been evident and shared in so many ways. While words can be difficult to find, people find wonderful ways of supporting one another in thoughtfulness and kindness. People dig deep to find the human instinct to survive along with the precious gift of faith which sustains bereaved families, bewildered neighbours, friends and colleagues. May we all continue to put our trust in God and the irrepressible human instinct to survive helping one another to face loss and bereavement.