No-one welcomes grief but “when we mourn, we touch the very heart of God”, Archbishop Jason Gordon said Sunday, February 13 at a special Mass at Archbishop’s Chapel, Port of Spain for people experiencing grief.
“When we weep and we mourn we touch the broken heart, the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ Himself who mourns and grieves for His world, mourns and grieves for you and I that we are not understanding how much we are loved by God.”
The Mass was attended by a few families and Fr Harold Imamshah, parish priest St Peter’s, Carenage, concelebrated.
Archbishop Gordon said the grief experienced at the loss of a loved “is not something that is easily described…easily put into neat or nice categories. It’s something that sends your whole life into a whole other dimension.”
There is no preparation for grief even when someone is ill and their health is deteriorating.
Going through grief brings a perspective on life that was not there before. Referencing the Sunday’s Gospel (Lk 6:17, 20–26) Archbishop Gordon said in the Beatitudes Jesus reminds that the place of grief is a sacred place of encounter with Him.
“The veil has been torn open, you realise things you’ve lived your life for that seemed so important, are no longer as important as you thought they were.”
He mentioned the book The Year of Magical Thinking (2005), written by Joan Didion about the year following the death of her husband. “For the entire year she was thinking and living in a way up until the death of her husband she had no access to.”
Archbishop Gordon said in experiencing the many emotions during grief –pain, sorrow, regret, people can get closest to encounter with the living God, “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted” (Mt 5:4).
Archbishop Gordon said grief brings people closer to something they do not like. He added, “Because we realise, we are not in control we have to remember who is in control. Put your hand in the hand of God and do not let go…in God alone is my soul at rest.”
Recalling his experience as a young priest journeying with three families who had tragic loss, Archbishop Gordon touched on the impact of grief on families; it can bring them closer or tear them apart.
He said, “Adults don’t like to feel powerless; we are not good at that, and anger is an easier emotion than grief and it’s easier to display anger because we feel powerful in anger.”
He begged that anger not be allowed to take control of the grieving moment. “Be conscious of this and don’t allow this moment, which is a sacred moment where you are closest into the hands of God, don’t allow this moment to escape you by shifting to anger and by sidestepping the invitation that God gives to you to live in this space that …is liminal and difficult. Live there,” Archbishop Gordon said.
He advised those grieving to wake each day affirming their confidence in God by saying ‘I give myself to You.’ When there is anger and other emotions, he urged they seek God’s help and guidance because “we cannot do this on our own”.
Archbishop Gordon said if Catholics believed that God raised Christ from the dead, then their loved ones will also be raised from the dead and one day they will be reunited with them.
“Traversing through this time of grief let us recognise that it is God and God alone that will lead us through this, and that God is true to His Word…put your hand in the hand of God and do not let go.”
Those present were invited to place candles and flowers at the foot of the altar in memory of their loved ones. Viewers were invited to do the gesture symbolically from home. Before the final blessing, Rose Jackman of Living Water Community led a short healing session. —LPG