From the Pastor Nov. 1, 2015 On Burying the Dead. On this November 1st we celebrate the Feast of All Saints which is a commemoration of all those souls who have gone before us and are now in heaven with the Lord Jesus. At both parishes this weekend we will read the name of those who have died and been buried from our churches during the past 12 months. As the names are read a candle of remembrance will be lit in their memory. On the following day the Church celebrates the Feast of All Souls and we pray for those of our deceased who have left us and are ‘on their way’ to heaven but have not yet reached the beatific vision. This celebration relies heavily on the assumption that at the time of death we may still have some ‘penance’ to do for our sins before we can enter the heavenly sanctuary. I know some people who believe that life here on earth is the ‘Purgatory’ they are enduring before death. Since our ordinations both Fr. Marty and I have been called out many times to give the Sacrament of the Sick to the seriously ill and those who were dying. The names of these patients are many times unknown to us, they are not on our parish list but this could well be because they are from surrounding parishes. We are called because we, here in Somers and Stafford, are the “Catholic chaplains” to Johnson Memorial Medical Center. We are priests and this is what we do. My concern is what happens to those patients after we anoint them and they pass on to the Lord. As I read the obituaries and see the name of someone to whom I was called to give the Sacrament of the Sick I often see that there is no mention of the Catholic Faith of that person. By that I mean that after the obituary lists all of the remaining relatives and all the groups and associations to which the deceased belonged, it then reads: “a celebration of his/her life will be held from 10 to noon at the funeral home, burial to follow in…..” Where’s the Mass, I ask? They called me to anoint him/her and I presume that the deceased was Catholic and, therefore, those who called are also Catholic. Recently we had a person who died who was listed as a former Eucharistic Minister but there was no Mass mentioned in the obituary. I once had, in a previous parish, a lady who came in to tell me that she had just come from the funeral director and made all of her arrangements for her funeral. I asked if she was going to have a Mass and she looked at me with great surprise that I would ask such a question. She said: “Of course I am going to have a Mass.” I then asked: “Have you told your children that because they are the ones who will be in charge of your final arrangements.” She assured me she would speak to them and that there would be a Mass. I told her the only sure way to have a Mass is to put a line in your will that says: “If I don’t have a funeral Mass all of my earthly possessions go to the church.” Then you can be sure you will have a Mass and probably one every month for the next year. I have come to realize, however, why so many children are not honoring their parents with a funeral Mass: they have not been to church for many years and they either do not even think of it as important or they are afraid that they will be embarrassed because they do not know what to do in church. So many times when we do have a funeral Mass the first two or three rows of mourners do not move to come to communion a very clear sign that they are not connected to the church. However, I give them credit for having given their father/mother the Mass they deserved. As of late we have been seeing a greater use of cremation on the part of the deceased. I am often asked if this is really okay with the Church since it was specifically forbidden for many years. The “burning” of the body was forbidden centuries ago because a group of non-believers taught that there is no resurrection of the body and to show their ‘faith’ in their belief they would burn their bodies at the time of death. The Church now realizes that we are no longer fighting that battle and that the cremation of the body is not a sign of disbelief in the resurrection. Therefore, cremation is acceptable in the eyes of the Church. However, the cremains are to be respected in the same way as a full body, the ashes are to be kept together and appropriately buried and not scattered in the wind. May all of our beloved rest in peace. Fr. Roland.