Father Bob writes November 2017
In the last few weeks I have been in the Garden of Remembrance at Saint Mary’s as we interred the ashes of Rene and Dot. As we finished the service and walked past the rows of memorial stones, I looked at the names and found myself recalling faces and memories of those people. There are names that will be familiar to many of you, and like me, each name will summon up a set of memories and stories – for example Stan Rudder, Edie Taylor, Thelma Carter, Doris Cavilla, Peter Austen, I wonder what ‘pictures’ you have of them?
The danger of these stones is that they can become places simply of looking back and reminiscing. They can also create the image of a community that is ‘dying’ or set in stone. But they can also be an inspiration and encouragement to us. These ‘stones’ and the people they remind us of also remind us of the great community (or communion) of which we are a part. They are ‘living stones’ as much as we are.
The names can remind us of the faith of those people that they shared with us and have handed onto us. They also remind us of those who now share in the Kingdom of God in all its fulness and with us gather to worship the Lamb on the Throne (as described in the Book of Revelation). Each name is a sign of a life of faith and trust which is now fulfilled. In time our names will be there (or somewhere similar) for others to reflect on and remember, but also to be reminded of the faith we share and that ‘home’ we all journey towards.
The same is true of our keeping of the ‘All Souls’ Season which we are about to enter. In the coming weeks there will be different opportunities to remember those who have died – at the Requiem Masses in early November or over the Remembrance weekend. As we recall their names and their lives, we need to allow them to become ‘living stones’. The danger is to ‘hold’ them simply in the past as they were, and to also then ‘hold’ ourselves there with them. While it is important to remember them and all they shared with us, we must also rejoice and reflect on them as they now are – in the fulness, beauty and rest of the Kingdom of Heaven. We also need to recognise the influence and inspiration they have been to us and our faith – and seek to ensure that we continue to witness to that faith as we now influence and inspire others.
So, when you hear the list of names, or read the stones in the Garden of Remembrance or in a Cemetery – look back with thanksgiving and recall the memories, rejoice that they are now in a place of rest and peace, and reflect on the life you lead and the memories and example you are creating.