Sometimes accidents can be providential. We had planned a Bereavement Mass for family members who lost their loved ones in 2018 and whose funerals took place at Cathedral/Sacred Heart. Our Mass was set for November 6 at 5 p.m. Then came the announcement that the holiday would be November 6. Too late to change the date; letters had already gone out to family members. It was a rainy Divali morning and we hoped for the best.
The weather cleared up by evening when Mass began with Cathedral administrator Fr Martin Sirju as celebrant and Fr Martin Ezesigwe concelebrating, not to mention a trail of eight altar servers and three Eucharistic ministers.
About 65 persons gathered for the quiet and moving Mass. A memorial table was prepared for the pictures of the deceased, draped in purple and with a bouquet of flowers. Four deyas with wax added to the liturgical décor—two at the base of the altar, one at St Martin’s and St Paul’s statues, and another at St Peter’s. Wax deyas were also available for those who did not bring candles in glass jars.
Fr Sirju mentioned in his homily that people die under different circumstances. There are the saintly and not so saintly; the saintly go to heaven while the not so saintly by God’s grace we hope will eventually get there.
As for those who died hardened in heart and unrepentant, their destiny is eternal unhappiness or hell. Fr Martin mentioned things that can be done to help the dead reach heaven: offering of prayers and Masses; works of penance on their behalf; works of charity and pilgrimage. Above all the mercy of God determines our final destiny.
After the homily, family members brought candles, lit them from the Paschal candle, and placed them on the memorial table together with floral arrangements brought for the occasion. People touched photographs, spoke quiet words, even wept. The memorial table was then incensed. This was followed by the prayers of the faithful.
People were visibly moved and spoke well of the Mass as they left the church. John 6:39 says, “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.” This was our way of reminding ourselves God wants to save all of us and bring us to heaven.—A parishioner