St Charles’ annual Consolation Mass
St Charles Borromeo RC’s 6th Annual Candlelight Consolation Mass was held on Thursday, November 23. The event commenced with a steady stream of parishioners, invited friends, and family members who came to share in prayerful thanksgiving for the lives of relatives and friends who passed.
They were there to appreciate their loved ones as gift, and to release them to their very source, God’s love through the Eucharist and the sacred symbols of water and light.
There was an air of expectation. Each person was handed a tealight candle on entry. Soft music filled the air with sacred songs such as ‘Lean on me’ and ‘Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling’.
Parish priest Fr Ian Taylor led the congregation in a short period of praise before inviting the Holy Spirit. He then explained the meaning and purpose of the Candlelight Consolation Mass. Persons who had prayer requests were invited to come up in procession and place their requests into a box at the altar. Voices raised to the tune of ‘This little light of mine’.
Fr Taylor, who himself had recently buried his mother, asked for a show of hands of persons whose relatives died of natural causes, those who died by accident, and those who died by murder. The number of deaths by murder was quite significant.
One parishioner testified on the loss of her murdered relative. She suffered intensely by holding on to the grief, reliving the experience over and over, until she found solid advice on letting go in Ecclesiasticus 38:16–23.
Fr Taylor shared on the tragic events which led to the death of his own father and the long suffering and death of his mother less than a year later. His inspiring homily was packed with advice on how to treat with grief. He re-emphasised that over-extended periods of grieving would cause delays in the release of the soul to its destination and negatively affect the life of loved ones left behind. He urged the congregation to “let them go” and embrace the opportunity afforded by the Consolation Mass to release their loved ones.
The electric lights were dimmed, and as is done at the Easter vigil, candles were lit from those on the altar. Members of the Ministry of Consolation relayed the light to the tealights held by members of the congregation.
Backed up by our resident choir, Philip Okafor began to sing ‘Leave it there’. It was a signal for the congregation to move beautifully and efficiently in procession, along the aisles toward two large basins of water near the altar. There, each tealight was carefully placed and released.
At the end of the Mass, Margaret Rose-Ali gave a vote of thanks. Fr Taylor requested a victory song for the recession and the choir led by Marlene Greaves sang ‘He will carry me along’.
It was a wonderful experience to sit and observe the activities carried out by the members of the MOC. It was a privilege to be a participant and a reward to finally “let go”. May our beloved ones rest in peace. – Lynette Joseph