Monday, November 3, 2008

Hope Does Not Disappoint

I attended a special Mass today celebrating the Commemoration of All Souls...which was technically celebrated yesterday on the church's liturgical calendar, but this was a very special mass. Every year the past 25 years, a mass has been celebrated at the cemetery where my loved ones are buried. They are in the catholic section which is a hill. On top of the hill is a Cross and an altar where Archbishop Wilton Gregory con celebrated the All Souls mass with retired Archbishop Donoghue and many priests.

Today was a GORGEOUS day. Dry clear fall air. Barely chilly, but enough to remind it was fall and GLORIOUS. The service was in a word, phenomenal....yes, it was JUST another Catholic Mass, but it was very special. This mass was celebrated for the intention of the repose of the souls of all the deceased priests, deacons and lay people of the archdiocese.....we said the mass to remember and honor the departed AND to help pray all these people to heaven.

First of all when I see the gathering of the brethren of many priests, I am moved beyond belief. I grew up as the daughter of the church secretary, so I got to know many wonderful holy men as friends of our family and witness the outpouring of God's love through these shepards. The life of a parish priest is very tough...they deal with many family situations along with financial and business issues with the parish. They give up the opportunity to have their own family as the parish becomes their family. Their job is not just 9 to 5. The altar at the cemetery is actually surrounded by the graves of many of the deceased priests our family welcomed in our home for dinners and counseled our family through sad and hard times. Brought back many memories of my mom working along side these men, playing bridge and having them over for dinner. I also remembered how in first grade when the priest walked in our classroom we all stood up and said "Good.....insert Morning or Afternoon....Father" in unison. Our family grew up with priests as friends and it was an honor to pray for them today.
Down the hill from where we celebrated mass, I visited with my deceased family members after the mass was done including..... Caleb my sweet baby boy,
Mom, Mary Beth my beautiful sister and Jackie my big brother. I know they are not here breathing or walking, but it was kind of cool to know that I went to mass with them today....not just in spirit, but just up the hill from where their bodies rest in peace. I put some little pumpkins on Jack and Caleb's markers and some new flowers on Jack and Mary Beth. I prayed for them during mass also, along with so many people in Atlanta who have passed on to the next life.

There was a group of nuns from the Mother Theresa order in their white and blue gowns in attendance also. The most beautiful site I think I have seen in a while was them walking the grounds after the mass, reading the names of the departed on grave markers while praying the rosary aloud. Surrounded by the blue blue sky and colorful fall leaves on the trees it was heartwarming to see these sisters praying for the souls of those whom they did not know. I followed along for about a decade of the rosary with them - that's 10 hail Marys, feeling very humbled at the sacrifice and service these women have made.

After that I went over to the Babyland section of the cemetery. This is the section many choose to bury babies after losing and infant or pregnancy. I know many moms whose children are buried there. Its a very peaceful place with a memorial brick walk - from where I saw the brick at the top of this post "God Shall Wipe Away All Tears from Their Eyes". There are 2 pretty angel statues in this section, I really like this little angel, and not much is known about her I have heard.

Archbishop Gregory reminded us today as in the second reading from Paul's letter to the Romans 5:5-11, that our Hope in the Lord indeed does not disappoint. We all have a heaven just waiting for us, and while we are sad in our grief in the loss of our friends and loved one, there is eternal joy and peace just waiting for us.


Donna said...

Very moving Julie. I'm in tears as a I read this. Beautiful words.

e said...

beautiful entry. my pleasure to read it. thank you and god bless you.