Grief informed by hope

Homily Series: Love is the Answer

Loving God, loving our neighbor and praying for the dead.

Fr. Steve mentions the recent feasts of All Saints and All Souls celebrating the saints who have gone before us and praying for the faithful departed who may be in purgatory. Praying for the dead is a spiritual work of mercy, which we should diligent in performing. Fr. Steve wore black vestments for All Souls Day and he explains why: because they express grief informed by hope. Before Vatican II black vestments were common. But nowadays funerals have become a celebration of the dead person’s life with the implication that the deceased is already in heaven. But what we should be celebrating is Christ’s life in the person. Many people are not perfect enough to go straight to heaven and so we should pray for them. The black vestments teach us that we need to pray for those who have died. Lex orandi lex credendi (the law of prayer is the law of belief). In other words the way we pray should reflect what we believe. If we tell a loved one that their spouse is already in heaven, then they have no incentive to pray for them. Those in purgatory are there being purified – often by our acts on their behalf. If we think or are told that our loved ones are in heaven, they may in fact be languishing in purgatory with nobody praying for them. The black vestments remind us that we should keep praying for our loved ones who have died.

Fr. Steve then reiterated and emphasized the core values of the parish:

The 1st core value: Mission-mindedness – helping men and women boys and girls to become mature disciples of Christ;

2nd core value: Authentic Catholicism – faithfulness to the teachings of the Church – not that other parishes are inauthentic but that we in the Church of the Resurrection dedicate ourselves to affirming those teachings. And we pray the way the Church tells us to pray because it is helpful to us in coming closer to Christ.

The 3rd core value is being supportive to families. Today’s reading from Deuteronomy 6 enjoins us to teach the law of love to our children. We need to encourage our kids to follow the Christian, Catholic way of life and give themselves to the Lord. But Fr. Steve also asks: are we ourselves being nourished? For example, are we ourselves doing regular spiritual reading?

The vertical love that we have for God, must be lived out horizontally in loving each other. Many of us believe that we are not loved or lovable. Trying harder does not heal us (unless we are trying hard to let Christ’s love more into our lives) or allow us to believe that God loves us, or empower us to share that love with each other. We need to experience the love of God in our lives through healing before we can love others adequately.

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