This year, Gesu Parish has embraced a Corporal Works of Mercy theme. Each month, the parish will select on a different issue and provide activities for you and your family to incorporate into your daily lives. (Click here to read more about Gesu's Year of Mercy and their annual One Book, One Parish selection Mercy in the City, by Kerry Webber)
November- Bury the Dead
As children of God, we are not only called to reflect on God’s mercy in our lives, but also on how we are the mercy of God to others.
After my dad succumbed to liver cancer in January of 1993, I remember having a conversation with one of my brothers. He said that it annoyed him when people told him they were sorry that his father had “passed away.” “It’s too recent,” he said. “Call it what it is. He died. Don’t soften it, or whitewash it with the nebulous ‘passed away;’ he died.” The journey my mom and siblings went through during the last weeks of Dad’s life were part of the process of “burying the dead.” It forced everything into sharp relief and called us to recognize what was and is most precious to us. If you asked my siblings and the grandchildren who were old enough to understand how they felt about the two weeks Dad spent on his deathbed, everyone would say that it was the best two weeks ever - with the worst possible outcome.
But 27 years later, after sitting with my mom on her deathbed, I find myself rethinking that perception of the outcome. Burying the dead is a gift for the living. It gives those in grief (while anticipating of a deeper grief) the opportunity to offer gentleness and care to the dying. It brings moments of quiet and peace to both the living and the dying to shed tears of regret and forgiveness, of longing for what was and anxiety of what is to come. It allows all parties to explore what their faith means in that very moment when all self-protection, pride, confidence and sense of control is stripped away – leaving the raw, pure emotions that overwhelm and disorient us. If we allow it, it is in this moment that our faith envelops us in the hope and peace that is grounded in the Promise of Christ. Our lives were ransomed by Jesus’ death and glorified through his Resurrection.
Burying the Dead compels us to consider our earthly mortality and anticipate our eternal immortality. It offers us the comfort of walking through the valley of death, knowing that God waits for all of us.
What does Gesu Parish do:
• November 2 All Souls Mass of Remembrance for families who have lost someone this past year
• Photos displayed in church throughout November; Book of Remembrance also
• Bereavement support
• On-going contact with the family
• Mass intentions throughout the year
• Book of Memory for young people who have died (in Marian Chapel)
• Intercessions at each liturgy
• Ministry of Funeral Attendants
What can you do?
• Pray for those who have died.
• Bring photos to church (see above).
• Fill in a prayer intentions card here >
• Display pictures in your home of family members who have died and share their stories.
• Visit the cemetery to pray for the person(s); perhaps bring flowers or a wreath.
• Volunteer to help clean up an unattended cemetery.
• Spend time planning your own funeral mass. The Funeral Planning Guide can be found here >
• Your own idea: ______________________
Mercy in the City: Read Chapter 24
1) Do you remember your first encounter with death? Do you ever share that with others? How does sharing make you feel? How does it make the others feel?
2) If you have experienced the death of a loved one, can you find ways in which it was a gift to you?
3) Do you have the right perception of death? Is it something you fear, or do you see it as the doorway into the Promise of Christ?
4) How is burying the dead a work of mercy to you?
• Rediscovering the Corporal Works of Mercy: Bury the Dead >
• Families that Grieve Together >
• Guiding Children through Grief >
• The Bereaved Parent, Harriet Sarnoff Schiff "A book of counsel for those who suffer the heartbreaking experience of a child's death."
• Gramp, Mark Jury and Dan Jury. " A man ages and dies. The extraordinary record of one family's encounter with the reality of dying."