November 1, 2015 From The Pastor`s Desk

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.