By Sean Byrne
A fellow parishioner of mine recently posted on Facebook post the occasion of her Mother’s 20th anniversary who had passed away at the relatively young age of 51. The raw emotion of her grief was still palpable and it shows how remembrance is part of the human culture on a global scale.
The British have Remembrance day in November every year in honour of their World War I casualties and America has the same remembrance but call it Veterans day.
It is patron season now in our diocese and all cemeteries are in pristine condition as bereaved families and loved ones have their graves in tip top appearance. This is also a great asset to many community councils and tidy town committees as this period also ties in with the annual judging of this major competition.
The extraordinary attendances at our patrons goes contrary to the secular culture which is supposed to be taking over our modern society. These crowds also highlight that faith is still present in many people.
Saint Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians reminds us that the three great virtues that remain are: “Faith, Hope and Love, and the greatest of these is Love”. In other words, the link between faith and love is insurmountable.
The faith of people in remembering their dead is down to Love.
In the same letter in verse 13, Paul expands
“Love is always patient
Love is always kind
Love is never envious
Or arrogant with pride!”.
In other words, the remembrance activity which we all engage in as part of the Christian family has love as its base. We all hope as believers that our departed loved ones are in eternal happiness in heaven.
Saint John in his gospel expands further on Love when he highlights the power of God’s Love for us by allowing us to be members of the Christian family.
In Chapter3, verse1-3, it states: “Think of the love that the
Father has lavished on us by
Letting us be called Gods children,
And that is what we are!”.
Memories are part of who we are, they form a large part of our personality. Many families have social get togethers after the parochial patron and one person I know makes a point of cooking two chickens for her family reunion.
These reunions re-engage and reunite the family and on a broader scale reinforce the identity of the family in the bigger Christian family.
As Christian believers we are told that God’s love for us means that God empties himself for us. A parent makes all the sacrifices possible for their children because of the love they have for them. To put it in non-biblical language, Celine Dion tells us in her song “I’m everything I am because you loved me”.
In conclusion may we remember that we are who we are partially because of our deceased brothers and sisters and may our remembrance of them help all Christians on their evangelisation journey and in the practice of their faith.