As CAFOD gets ready for its tenth year of November memorial Masses, director Chris Bain reflects on the month of remembrance.
November is a very special time of year. And it’s not just the fireworks that make it special. For the Church and her faithful, it is a time especially set aside to remember and pray for all those who have died.
For many people, this might seem strange. In today’s busy society there aren’t many opportunities for us to take the time and space to remember those who are no longer with us. We’re constantly on the go and feel we need to be in control. And, because we’re frightened by what might happen if our emotions get the better of us, we are often uncomfortable with the idea of death and grief.
Of course, for those of us who have lost someone special, they are always with us and we think of them often, but it can be hard to find a way to express our feelings or share the experience with others without making people anxious.
But that’s why this month of remembrance should be recognised more widely. Having a space in the Church calendar where we’re encouraged to celebrate our loved ones reminds us that it is good and right to do so; to remember and give thanks for the people who’ve influenced us, and pray for all those who have died. It might sound sombre, and indeed it can be an emotional time, but ultimately the Church is giving us a message of hope. Hope and encouragement that love and life are stronger than death.
As life goes on, it seems there are more and more people we say goodbye to. I myself lost my father this year, and at CAFOD we mourn the loss of a number of beloved colleagues and supporters who have died recently. Losing our friends is always a shock and a cause of great sadness but we give thanks for their lives, pray that they know peace, and try to make sure their work for justice continues.
And of course CAFOD has been so blessed over the years by our friends who have shown such inspiring commitment and solidarity to our work and communities around the world. Whether through volunteering, donations, prayers or campaigning, their dedication has made our work possible. They have played a crucial role in the fight for justice and an end to poverty, and the love they shared lives on in the lives of all those who have been touched by their kindness and compassion.
We can’t begin to express our gratitude for all of our past supporters, but, as a token of our appreciation, we are holding a number of memorial Masses to give thanks and pray for all those who have been at the heart of our work over the years who have passed away.
This will be the tenth year CAFOD has offered our memorial Masses and I’m honoured that our organisation can provide this special service. Each year we hear from those who attend, or who have simply included their loved one’s name in our books of remembrance, what a comfort they’ve found it to know that their loved ones are being remembered. Some families have travelled many miles to join us at the Masses.
You and your family, friends, neighbours and fellow parishioners are warmly welcome to attend our memorial Masses, whether to remember fellow CAFOD supporters or your own loved ones. We will also be presenting a book of remembrance at each Mass, so if you would like a loved one to be included, please do get in touch to let us know. All you need to tell us is their name and their home town, so don’t worry about being asked to share personal details. It would be our honour to remember them in our service.
At this time of year I’m often reminded of St John of the Cross’ words: “In the evening of life, we will be judged on love alone.” So I hope you’ll join us in giving thanks for those who’ve taught us to love and be loved; and we pray that they forever rest in peace.