In the Second Book of Macabees in the Old Testament we read: "It is a holy and wholesome thought that we pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins." Rooted in an ancient Christian tradition, the Church sets aside November as a month for the holy souls! Particular attention in prayer is given for those who have left us in death. On Saturday we celebrated our annual Mass of Remembrance, praying especially for those who have been buried from our church during the past year. The relatives of the deceased joined us and the Mass is always a reminder to us that it is a happy and holy thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins. The scrolls on which the names of these loved ones remain in our sanctuary as a reminder to us that we might offer prayers for them and for all our families and friends who have been called home to God.
On Thursday we celebrated AII Souls Day which is officially known as the Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed. This tradition goes back to Tertullian in the second century, and in 988 AD St. Oldo of Cluny established a memorial of all the faithful departed. The feast was officially accepted in Rome in the 13th century.
We are grateful to all who took part in our listening session last week on the crisis in the Church surrounding sexual abuse. We thank Father Tom Nestor and Virginia Reardon from St Paul Parish in Hingham for their leadership in our listening session. Many Catholics became aware of the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the 1980’s; it rose to prominence by 1992 and we were assured by the bishops that the crisis had been handled. Then came reports from Boston in 2002, next from Ireland and then an avalanche of complaints from other countries. We are fortunate for the leadership, not only locally, but for the universal church, of Cardinal Sean. He has been a leader in responding to the crisis, not only for our own diocese, but for the world wide church as well. We pray especially for the victims of abuse and, as St. Paul said: "where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more." May that grace continue to flow and fill the hearts of all of us in these troubling times.
Fr John R. Mulvehill