REFLECTIONS extracts from THOUGHTS FOR THE DAY – November

A Family Bereavement Prayer.  

God our Father, we remember in prayer those we have loved, who have had a special place in our hearts and in our lives and are now no longer here with us.  We thank you Lord for the time you have given us to share together the gift of life.   We pray for your pardon and a willingness to forgive one another for the hurt we caused. Help us to be at peace with the imperfections of our human relationship knowing that you accept us as we are.  Comfort us through the memories our loved ones leave us.  May those memories give us courage for our journey into the future.  Grant them a place of peace and joy in your kingdom where there is no more suffering and no more grief.  And when each of us is called to depart from this life may we be reunited with them in eternal happiness.   We make this prayer through Christ our Lord.   Amen.

OVERVIEW: NOVEMBER – LOSS MATTERS.

Loss is inevitable and comes in many different forms, death, divorce, or in less traumatic ways.   Dealing with serious losses such as a death of a spouse, parent, grandparent, child, family member or other close friend is a process that takes time.   We may cope well or we may be overwhelmed by grief, sadness and at times guilt.   Families owe it to one another and beyond that to other families to offer care and support at times of loss.   Although the certainty of death saddens us we are consoled by the promise of future immortality, for the life of those who believe in you Lord, is not ended by changed. Our loved ones are not lost in the shades of nothingness; hope assures us that they are in the good strong hands of God. AL 256. One way of maintaining fellowship with our loved ones is to pray for them.  The Bible tells us that to pray for the dead is holy and pious.   Our prayer for them is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us effective.   AL 257. 

Visit http://www.marfam.org.za for more NOVEMBER RESOURCES.

Setting the Scene. The Church year is drawing to a close and it usually does so during this month with a focus on those who have died. But reflecting on the losses experienced during the year and especially by those left behind makes this an opportunity to help families towards an acceptance and closure in a variety of ways.  In the secular world too with school exams and end-of-year feelings there is also a sense of closure. Acceptance and gratitude go together and while we mourn the losses we can make an effort to be grateful for the experiences and gifts we have received. The THOUGHTS FOR THE DAY this month are unusual, based on the various scripture books used in the liturgy:  Romans, Wisdom, Maccabees and Daniel which are not as well-known and understood by many Catholics as the gospels. In Luke’s gospel Jesus also often speaks of the things to come and the end times.  There are some explanatory notes provided below about these Old Testament books, their history, purpose and style.

Fr Ivor, the parish priest invited Vincent, a parishioner well-versed in scripture to prepare some basic explanatory material.  The book of Wisdom belongs to a genre known as Wisdom literature, written mainly after the Babylonian exile as theological reflection on the history of the chosen people.  Maccabees 1 and 2 recount the history of a time of wars and oppression by foreign rulers in the 2nd century BC in their own country. The faith of the Jews was challenged by the exposure and imposition of foreign religions. The central event was the desecration of the temple in Jerusalem.  These books are included in the Catholic canon because of certain doctrinal issues including prayers and sacrifices for the dead, intercession of the saints and resurrection on Judgement Day.  They are particularly meaningful during November because of this.  Daniel is the main character in this book, but not its writer.  Apocalyptic literature is another genre using images of fantastic creatures (rather like some of the popular modern action characters) in reflecting on history in order to give hope to an oppressed people.  The book’s setting is the time of Babylonian exile from 586 BC –   but its audience is the same people suffering oppression in 2nd century BC.  There is a messianic message which the Church applies to Jesus .   This type of writing is not historical but known as “apocalyptic” literature, containing many dreams and visions of the future and of end times. Reading the longer passages than are quoted here makes valuable spiritual reading for this time. The song of praise in Daniel 3 used in parts in the Responsorial Psalms is also a wonderful reflective prayer.

November 1st. . The family were discussing religious practices and in particular rules about the sabbath.  “If you lose your cellphone, your car gets stolen, someone has an accident and it happens on a Sunday do you wait to take action?” “Of course not, it doesn’t make sense, and of course you feel frustrated if the office or shop is closed?” “But we are not as strict about respecting the day of the Lord as the Jews were and some still are.” “Some people still take time to visit the cemetery on a Sunday.”   “But I believe we have lost some respect for the day of the Lord by choosing where to go to Mass or not.

Jesus asked, “which of you having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well, will not immediately pull him out on a sabbath day?”  And they could not reply to this.   Pope Francis:  The various expressions of popular piety are a treasure of spirituality for many families.   The family’s communal journey of prayer culminate by sharing together in the Eucharist especially in the context of the Sunday rest.  AL318

November 2nd Commemoration of the Faithful Departed. All souls.    They gathered at the parish early in the morning to start their pilgrimage, as they called it, to the cemetery as usual on November 2nd.  Men, women and children, all who had lost a dearly beloved family member or close friend made the short journey many on their own, but it was the company of others that comforted them.  John had recently lost a son in an accident, Paul’s son had been killed during an armed robbery while Mavis’s daughter had succumbed to cancer.  As parents they came to share their grief and offer one another support.  Fr George prayed a special prayer for grieving parents and reminded them of the support offered by The Compassionate Friends.

Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his faithful ones.   Psalm 116:15.   “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”   Revelations 21:4.   Pope Francis: How can we even begin to understand the grief of parents who have lost a child? It is as if time stops altogether a chasm opens to engulf both past and future and at times we even go so far as to lay the blame on God. I can understand them, get angry with God.  AL254

November 3rd  Sunday and All Saints.   Fr Peter began, “Who really understands the communion of saints and especially the fact that with Christ at our head it refers to us here on earth, those who are still being purified from their sins in purgatory and thirdly those with God in eternal happiness?   Isn’t that kind of special he asked the youth.  He continued, “to be a saint one has to do certain things, ‘continue to love one another and join in praising the Most Holy Trinity.’   Those who died in the love of God, or for God like the martyrs did, are especially honoured.  Do you know of any martyrs of our time?” he asked them. “I know. Benedict Daswa, is our own South African martyr, and he was just an ordinary family man.”  “There have also been many people killed for their faith in places around the world recently.  That is very frightening.”

“My dear people, we are already the children of God but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed; all we know is that when it is revealed we shall be like him because we shall see him as he really is.  1 John 3:2   Pope Francis:  The book of Revelation portrays the martyrs interceding for those who suffer injustice on earth, in solidarity with this world and its history.  AL 257

A divine mercy image at St Josephs, Brits.

November 4th .  Mavis had loved her uncle but she knew that he wasn’t a really honest man.  After his death she spoke to a trusted priest friend.  “Will he be in purgatory now? Can I pray for him?” He listened carefully and replied, “I don’t know how we can really get to understand God’s wisdom, love and mercy. We recognise a cycle of sin, repentance, forgiveness. But even if someone does not appear to repent we believe that mercy can somehow be transferred to another person. If only we could pass on such an understanding of God in all cases where disobedience and discipline are issues.”

God has consigned all men to disobedience that he may have mercy upon all.  O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God.  From Romans 11:29-36.   Pope Francis:  Mercy is not only the working of the Father, it becomes a criterion for knowing who his true children are.  In a word we are called to show mercy because mercy was first shown to us.  AL310. 

 

 

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