Mourning joy

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October came and went and so did All Souls Day.  Steven bought a memory candle at church for us to light here at home as a remembrance of our faithful departed, but the tall white beauty remained unlit until today.

Into the light

The phone rang twice during the noon hour: first, to prepare me for a call; forty minutes later, to deliver the news. At twelve-fifteen, mom passed into the light, no doubt joyfully reuniting with friends and loved ones who preceded her in death, especially her precious mother who, together with twin baby boys, died during childbirth when mom was barely nine.

Mourning joy

Now, thanks to God’s master plan, mom’s life has begun anew peacefully, without suffering or pain, and— best of all— with God, his angels, and his saints.

November is a month for mourning, a month for joy.

The remembrance of our beloved dead brings tears to our eyes.  Our faith in the resurrection makes us lift up our heads; it lets Christian joy intermingle with our sorrow….

Love is for all seasons.  So is the prayerful remembrance of those we loved in life (Franciscan Mission Associates [FMA], B-17/08).

We must not bury the dead twice, beneath flowers and in our hearts, but keep them alive by our side with the things that they held dear and we still cherish.  In the wonderful memory of their names, their special dates and remembrances, they shall remain alive in us and through us.  Don’t only shed tears for them, but also remember them with your good works.  Keep their memory bright with your love.  We must bury the body, but extol their souls in brightness (FMA, B-11/06).

Prayers

For a happy death…  Lord Jesus, grant us the grace always to follow the example of the Holy Family so that, at the hour of our death, Mary, your loving mother, together with blessed Joseph may come with you to meet us and to escort us to the light, happiness, and peace of heaven where you live with the Father and the Holy Spirit.  One God, forever and ever.  Amen.

For all the faithful departed…  God, creator and redeemer of all the faithful, grant to the souls of your servants and handmaids the forgiveness of all their sins.  Through our devout prayers may they obtain the pardon which they have always desired.  We ask this through Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

Lord, hear our prayers.  In your mercy bring us to your place of peace, and light the soul of your servant (name) whom you have summoned from this world.  Call (name) to be numbered in the fellowship of your saints.  We ask this through Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

For departed loved ones…  O almighty God who, by the love which you have for men, have deigned to take our humanity; to live a life of hard work; to suffer a most cruel Passion; and, finally, to die on the Cross— I beg of you by the infinite merits purchased for us with your precious blood, look mercifully on the suffering which is endured by the holy souls in purgatory.

Accept, O merciful God, the prayers which I offer for them, and call them to the glory of heaven.  I recommend to you the souls of my relatives, my friends, and my benefactors, and— in a special manner— those to whom I may have been an occasion of sin by my bad example.

Most holy Virgin, mother of mercy, comforter of the afflicted, intercede for those souls that, by your powerful intercession, they may be admitted to enjoy that kingdom which is prepared for them.  Amen.

For one’s parents…  Heavenly Father, we are called to honor our mother and father always, even after death.  It is with a special love that I offer this heartfelt prayer for my parent’s (parents’) safe passage to heaven.

Humbly I ask you to watch over them with tenderness and care.  In your mercy forgive their sins and welcome them into full communion with all the faithful in Christ.  Grant that one day I will be so blessed as to see my parent(s) again in the radiance of eternal joy.  In Jesus’s name I pray.  Amen (FMA B-36/2016).

For the souls in purgatory…  O gentle heart of Jesus, ever present in the Blessed Sacrament, ever consumed with burning love for the poor captive souls in purgatory, have mercy on them.

Be not severe in your judgments, but let some drops of your precious blood fall upon the devouring flames.

And, merciful Savior, send your angels to conduct them to place of refreshment, light, and peace.  Amen (From A treasury of prayers, The Leaflet Missal Company, n. d., p. 14).

Light and peace…  Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.  May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.  Amen.

Psalm 23…  The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  In verdant pastures he gives me repose; beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul.

He guides me in right paths for his name’s sake.  Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil, for you are at my side with your rod and your staff that give me courage.

You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Only goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.

Sympathy…  God be with you in your sorrow through the night and day.  May some blessing come tomorrow that will clear its cloud away.  God is generous in his giving.  Give him now the soul that’s fled.  May he bless with strength the living.  Rest eternally the dead.

Unending peace…  O loving Father and Savior, send your angels to carry the soul of your servant from this earth to the heavenly place of eternal and everlasting life.  Let family and friends who have passed before in faith be reunited in joy with the departed.  Forgive any wrongs that have been committed and welcome this beloved spirit into the warm embrace of your unending peace.  Amen.

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Contact information

The Jeremiah bookmark and the prayers for the faithful departed are from Fr. Primo at Franciscan Mission Associates, P.O. Box 598, Mount Vernon, NY 10551-0598; The Pieta Prayer Booklet is from the MLOR Corporation (1996; prayer, p. 56).

November 2, 2012

“Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them”
(St. John Chrysostom).

“All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1030)

September 4, 2013

“I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow… and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, declares the Lord”
(Jeremiah 31:13-14).

“Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy” (John 16:20).

November 2, 2013

Lord, shine your everlasting light on all my departed loved ones.  May they find rest in your loving arms.  Thank you for giving everything so that we can live forever with you in heaven (the Word among us, p. 23).

May 31, 2014

“Our family chain is broken, and nothing seems the same; but as God calls us one by one the chain will link again” (Tranmer, 2009).

June 18, 2014

“God has concealed from us the day of our death, that we may spend all our days well” (St. Alphonsus Liguori).

July 9, 2014

Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying.  Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day.  Do it! I say.  Whatever you want to do, do it now!  There are only so many tomorrows (Venerable Pope Paul VI).

November 2, 2014

“We have loved them during life; let us not abandon them until we have conducted them by our prayers into the house of the Lord” (St. Ambrose).

January 5, 2015

“A man must always be ready, for death comes when and where God wills it” (St. John Neumann).

February 2, 2015

Our lighted candle is a sign of the divine splendor of the one who comes to expel the dark shadows of evil and to make the whole universe radiant with the brilliance of his eternal light. Our candle also shows how bright our souls should be when we go to meet Christ (St. Sophronius).

August 7, 2015

“I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

November 4, 2015

“If during life we have been kind to the suffering souls in purgatory, God will see that help be not denied to us after death” (St. Paul of the Cross).

February 10, 2016

You have given my days a very short span; my life is as nothing before you.  All mortals are but a breath (Psalm 39:6).

November 1, 2016

Remember that you have only one soul; that you have only one death to die; that you have only one life, which is short and has to be lived by you alone; and there is only one Glory, which is eternal.  If you do this, there will be many things about which you care nothing (St. Teresa of Ávila).

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Links of interest…  Bible gateway…  Candles to light…  Colbert, suffering & gratitude…  Commending the soul to God …  Companion in illness…  Companions of St. Anthony (prayer booklet)…  Death & dying…  Eternal rest (prayer)…  Family chain poem: broken chain (Ron Tranmer) / Consolatorio (blog) / memorial / prayer cards…  For the faithful departed…  Franciscan Mission Associates…  Gift of a Christian death…  Grief as spiritual purificationshare / turned to joy…  Grieving heart: books / quotes on healing / reflections…  Healing fountain of grief…  Holy souls, prayer, & healing…  Intercession of saints…  Joy in the midst of grief…  Lessons from a monastery: Detachment…  My soul feels lean (author / sorrow)…  November: Walking with the Church in sorrow & joy…  Prayers: book / for holy souls – the deceasedthose in purgatory – when one fears death / meditations / more…  Pursued by God…  Resources for grieving…  St. Joseph prayer for the dying…  Ten: books about grief to find life after lossways to prepare for a holy death…  Turn mourning into joy…  “Win-Win:” Lessons on death in the context of faith

WP posts…  Lady of sorrows…  Lingering memory…  Picturing God…  Soulful…  Two letters…  Two takes

Budding relationships

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Growing up, I knew about God, Jesus, Joseph, and Mary but not really about the saints.

Maybe I was supposed to learn about them on my own?

Other than developing a lifelong personal relationship with St. Jude and St. Anthony, I didn’t delve into the lives of the other saints until I created our church website, May 2008.

Jesus, son of God and son of Mary, bless our family.  Graciously inspire in us the unity, peace, and mutual love that you found in your own family in the little town of Nazareth. 

Mary, mother of Jesus and our mother, nourish our family with your faith and your love.  Keep us close to your son, Jesus, in all our sorrows and joys. 

Joseph, foster-father to Jesus, guardian and spouse of Mary, keep our family safe from harm.  Help us in all times of discouragement or anxiety. 

Holy family of Nazareth, make our family one with you.  Help us to be instruments of peace.  Grant that love, strengthened by grace, may prove mightier than all the weaknesses and trials through which our families sometimes pass.  May we always have God at the center of our hearts and homes until we are all one family, happy and at peace in our true home with you.  Amen.

St. Martin of Tours

As a child I often wondered about the picture high up on the wall above the front door.  Since we didn’t have photos of anyone on the walls of our house, I always thought that the man over the door had to have been someone special. 

But why was he slashing his red cloak in two? 

Never mind that he was atop his horse as a barely clothed man sat on the ground below.  I just didn’t get it.

Who was he? 

Although I never thought to ask about him then, I now know a bit more about St. Martin of Tours, as he’s “one of the most familiar and recognizable Christian saints… a spiritual bridge across Europe… a patron saint of soldiers and horses” (Wikipedia, 2011).

Lord God of hosts, you clothed your servant, Martin, the soldier, with the spirit of sacrifice and set him as a bishop in your Church to be a defender of the Catholic faith.  Give us grace to follow in his holy steps that at the last we may be found clothed with righteousness in the dwellings of peace.  Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.  Amen.

St. Jude Thaddeus

When I was nine or so, mom heard about a church in Pharr, TX that had an outdoor shrine devoted to St. Jude; so off we went after work one evening.

I still vividly recall mom’s fascination with St. Jude.

“Look.  He has only one horn left to show that his evil gave way to good,” Mom said.  “St. Jude betrayed Jesus, but God’s unconditional love transformed him.  Now he’s the saint of impossible causes.”

Even at my young age the story didn’t make sense.

One horn?  How can that be?

By the time the topic of St. Jude’s horn came up again, I was an adult who’d learned that Judas Iscariot is sometimes mistaken for St. Jude Thaddeus and vice versa.  Additionally, “Saint Jude is depicted with a tongue of fire over his head to signify that with the other apostles he was present at Pentecost” (Eparchy of St. Maron, 2008).

I gently shared this information with mom but she didn’t quite believe me, and I was fine with that.

What matters is that I’ve come to know St. Jude as a powerful intercessor.  One I call on only when I’m facing a truly exasperating dilemma beyond my problem solving capability, as with the kids and/or grandkids.

St. Jude, through prayer you praised God for the wonderful works of Jesus.  You asked God for the strength to meet the challenges of your apostolate.  You put your trust in God’s mercy, believing firmly that God loved you and understood your joys and sorrows, your hopes and fears, and your triumphs and failures.  You understood that nothing is impossible for God.  We ask you to pray for us now before the Most High so that we, too, might be filled with God’s saving power, understand God’s will for us, and faithfully place ourselves in God’s loving hands.  Amen.

St. Anthony

On the other hand, my unfaltering companion since age thirteen has been St. Anthony.

Always patient, loving, kind, and willing to help, St. Anthony’s devotion to the Holy Infant has inspired me not only to look for the Infant whenever we visit a church for the first time, but also to return occasionally to familiar churches… St. Paul the Apostle Church in Flour Bluff and the Cathedral in Corpus Christi, TX… where the Holy Infant is venerated.  “For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be” (Mt. 6:21).

O Holy St. Anthony, your deep faith in Jesus Christ comforted your heart, especially during times of trial and distress.  Help me to grow in faith, so I may experience peace of mind and heart in my present needs.  (State request.)  Free me from undue anxiety, needless worry, and burdensome fears.  Grant me sure confidence; unfailing trust in God’s loving mercy, and daily serenity.  Amen. 

St. Thérèse

Over the years, too, I’ve learned that it’s not uncommon for St. Anthony to be displayed near St. Thérèse, since they’re both closely affiliated with the Holy Infant.  The church in Budapest, Hungary, for instance, has the two saints facing each other from opposite sides of the center aisle as one enters the seating area.

St. Thérèse, teach us how to open our heart without reserve to the Holy Spirit.  Help us to seek and find God’s will not only in the crises and choices, but also in the joys and disappointments of our lives.  Gain for us the grace to do God’s will with courage and untroubled hearts so that we can radiate joy and  gladness like yours in the service of our Lord.  Amen.

Moreover, parishes I’ve frequented that honor St. Anthony, St. Thérèse, and the Holy Infant include Sacred Heart Church and the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Brownsville, TX; Sts. Cyril & Methodius Church in Corpus Christi, TX; St. Pius V in Chicago, IL; and two churches that Segy and I visited in Gyor, Hungary and Prague, Czech Republic.

                    

                    

                    

Budding relationships

Of course, had Segy and I not been parishioners at Sacred Heart, I never would’ve made the connection between St. Anthony and St. Thérèse, much less traveled to Europe to see the original Infant Jesus statue at Our Lady of Victory Church in Prague.

Divine Infant Jesus, I know you love me and would never leave me.  I thank you for your close presence in my life.  Miraculous Infant, I believe in your promise of peace, blessings, and freedom from want.  I place every need and care in your hands.  Lord Jesus, may I always trust in your generous mercy and love.  I want to honor and praise you now and forever.  Amen.

The way I see it, God’s master plan for me has included not only a heartfelt devotion to the Holy Infant, but also budding relationships with his beloved saints who are always ready, willing, and able to intercede for us any time we choose to call on them.

November 1, 2012

“When we commemorate the saints, we are inflamed with another yearning: That Christ, our life, may also appear to us as he appeared to them and that we may one day share in his glory” (St. Bernard of Clairvaux).

November 11, 2014

“Allow me, brothers, to look toward heaven rather than at the earth so that my spirit may set on the right course when the time comes for me to go on my journey to the Lord”
(St. Martin of Tours).

October 31, 2015

“The saints have not all started well, but they have all finished well” (St. John Vianney).

November 1, 2015

“On the feasts of the saints, consider their virtues and beseech God to deign to adorn you with them” (St. Teresa of Ávila).

November 11, 2015

“O God, who sees that we exist by no power of our own, mercifully grant that, by the intercession of blessed Martin, your confessor and bishop, we be strengthened against all adversities”(Unknown source, n. d.).

March 19, 2016

If we falter, let us turn to Holy Mary, who loves us and teaches us how to pray; and to St. Joseph, our father and lord, whom we venerate so much.  In this world he was the one who was closest to the Mother of God and, after Mary, to her Divine Son.  Together they will bring our weakness to Jesus so that he may turn it into strength (St. Josemaría Escrivá).

October 30, 2016

“Each generation is converted by the saint who contradicts it most” (G. K. Chesterton).

November 11, 2016

Lord, if your people need me, I will not refuse the work.  Your will be done (St. Martin of Tours).

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St. Joseph Church – Port Aransas, TX

Links of interest…  Apostles, major saints, & feast days…  Artist John McCoy paints the saints for Michigan parish…  Church of Our Lady of Victory…  Does praying to the saints mean they’re gods…  Four soon-to-be saints…  Friendship with the saints / with Christ Jesus…  Four saints who weren’t consecrated religious…  Holy Week & Judas…  Introducing the saints to your children…  Jesus, Mary, & the saints…  Living the motto of the saints…  Love that lies beneath…  November 1st: All Saints & 2nd: All Souls / communion / solemnity…  Patron saint of missing socks, pray for us…  Prayer to the saints: One in the body…  Sainthood isn’t for the strong…  Saints: better than superheroes / crises / ever wonder how a saint is made / for Pentecost / friendship / overcoming boredom / patron saint list / still being made / teach us how to trust God / who is a saint / why we love the saints…  Society of the Little Flower…  Stories, traditions keep devotions to the saints alive…  St. Anthony: about (more) / biography / devotions / mail deliveries (S.A.G.) / miracles & traditions / shrine / wonder worker…  St. Jude Thaddeus: tongue of fire / who he is…  St. Martin of Tours: about / feast (Nov 11) / history / monk / novenapatron saint / prayers / profile…  St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus & the Holy Face: 1873-1897 / about / Carmelite / celestial roses / centenary / chaplet / history / inspiration / invocation / life / oblation / feast (Oct 1st) / little way / novena / petitions / prayer (YouTube) / relic / story (YouTube)…  Story of a soul (1898; free): audio / ebook…  With confidence & trust

WP posts…  Beautiful sacred space…  Connected tangents…  Disquieting moments…  Heart of hearts…  Heart’s desire…  Kindred acorns…  May flowers…  Noon visit…  A real church…  Si quaeris miracula…  St. Anthony…  St. Anthony Claret…  St. Jude novena  Sweet Jesus…  Venerable Margaret