Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Communion of Saints at the Cemetery

It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins (2 Maccabees 12:46).

Here in the northern hemisphere, at this time of year - as the sun rises a little later each morning and sets a little earlier each afternoon - there is a sense of time passing by, as yet another tired old year draws to a close. 

In our Catholic tradition, this month of November is dedicated in a special way to remembering and praying for those who have died. Just as remembering the dead is an important human duty, so too praying for the dead is an important Christian one. When we remember those who have died, we acknowledge our common humanity with them. For, like us, they lived, loved, worked, succeeded and failed, hoped and dreamed – both for themselves and for their families. And, like them, we too must eventually die. Our Christian faith, however, redefines for us the universal experience of dying and unites us with those who have gone before us not just in our common humanity but in what the Apostles’ Creed calls “the communion of saints.”

Modern society seems increasingly inclined to downplay death. Christian hope, in contrast, causes us both to treat all of life as a preparation for a good death and not to neglect our duty to pray for those who have gone before us. This is why celebrating a proper Catholic funeral for the deceased is so important. It is an especially privileged moment when the entire Church visibly intercedes on behalf on the recently deceased. But the Church’s intercession is on-going, which is why at every Mass there is explicit prayer for those who have died.

Since 1869, Immaculate Conception Church in Knoxville, TN, has maintained Calvary Cemetery. Fr, Michael Finnegan, Immaculate Conception’s pastor from 1868 to 1872, celebrated the first burials there and purchased the property for the parish. Located in East Knoxville (adjacent to the burial site of Confederate soldiers killed at the Battle of Fort Sanders), Calvary remains the only Catholic cemetery in Knoxville. Annually on the first Sunday of November, which this year will fall on All Souls Day itself, we gather at Calvary Cemetery as a community to recite the Rosary together for the eternal rest of all those buried there and for all the faithful departed. 

No comments:

Post a Comment