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The memento of the dead

The memento of the dead

Today, we remember and pray especially for those who have died in warfare; may they rest in peace. Last Monday, we celebrated All Souls, and throughout the month of November we continue to give particular focus in our prayers to the faithfully departed.  Of course we remember them at each Mass, so I’d like to spend a few moments looking at the point in each Eucharistic Prayer where we do that. Just to bring them to mind, here they are, in order:

1.Remember, Lord, those who have died and have gone before us marked with the sign of faith, especially those for whom we now pray… May these, and all who sleep in Christ, find in your presence, light, happiness and peace.

2. Remember our brothers and sisters who have gone to their rest in the hope of rising again; bring them and all the departed into the light of your presence.

3. Welcome into your kingdom our departed brothers and sisters, and all who have left this world in your friendship.

4. Remember those who have died in the peace of Christ and all the dead whose faith is known to you alone.

Each prayer remembers not only our own departed brethren but also all the dead, which includes those who have died unmourned, unloved.  They might otherwise be forgotten but no, they are prayed for at each and every Mass. Together, the mementoes of the dead teach us a little about the transition from this life to eternity.

The bodies of the dead perish, yes, but they ‘have gone before us‘, to eternal life; the life to which God calls us and for which we were made.  They have gone ‘in the hope of rising again‘ – and that’s Christian hope, based on Christ’s promise, not just on our fuzzy desire. And how do we go?  ‘In your friendship‘, we’re told but it is possible for us to fall out with our friends.

We die, please God, ‘in the peace of Christ’ but again, that’s not a certainty.  There is certain comfort to be found, however, in the Roman Canon, Eucharistic Prayer I, which mentions the fact that we are ‘marked with the sign of faith’. What is this mark?  It is surely the indelible mark of our baptism that claims us for Christ and enables us to be recognised at the gates of heaven for who we are: children of God.

Finally, note that the prayer for the dead in the first Eucharist prayer is a silence.  If, like me, you’re a bit slow when it comes to praying, it’s a good idea (so I’ve been told) to make a point of remembering those particular souls before Mass, to enable you to bring them to mind swiftly when the opportunity arises.  That’s the theory… now all I need do is get to church in time to do that!

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