Visit a cemetery this weekend

After Mass this weekend, perhaps before heading home or out for errands or brunch, take a short drive to a cemetery in your community. Spend a few moments in prayer for and remembrance of departed loved ones and all who sleep in Christ there.

Doing so is always a worthwhile practice, indeed a spiritual work of mercy, but there are several reasons why it is especially appropriate this weekend.

This year the feast of All Souls, Nov. 2, falls on the same day as the annual observance of Catholic Cemetery Sunday. Some cemeteries have special events planned, such as the simultaneous recitation of the rosary at 2 p.m. at all three Catholic cemeteries in Peoria and West Peoria, or the display of remembrance candles at Calvary Cemetery in Rock Island.

Another inspiration to make the visit is that it would help fulfill a request made at the start of the year and repeated in recent weeks by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC. The bishop, in a festival letter released in January, asked that Catholics of the diocese in a special way this year reflect on the brevity of life and our obligation to offer prayers for those who have gone before. All Souls Day and the month of November, he wrote, “should be a special time when all our parishes, hospitals, cemeteries, and schools offer Masses for the dead, remember in prayer our deceased relatives and friends, and in charity extend our prayers for the repose of all the poor souls in purgatory.”

As explained in a special section in last week’s Catholic Post, Bishop Jenky has re-issued his statement as a pastoral letter called “Eternal Rest Grant Unto Them O Lord.” With its two new appendices outlining funeral rites of the Catholic Church and frequently asked questions about the church and cremation, the teaching document is a source of both comfort and education on a topic that deeply affects every Catholic in our diocese. At just 22 pages, the booklet is highly readable and perfect for either private reflection or as a resource for school or religious education or parish study clubs. Copies may be obtained by calling the Chancery at (309) 671-1550.

“An awareness of death should encourage a much deeper intensity in the experience of living,” wrote Bishop Jenky. “Redeemed and born again, Christians should really be the happiest people alive. Because we know that our endless longing will at last be fulfilled in the infinity of God, we can more readily delight in what is given, without placing eternal expectations on passing realities.”

The bishop invites us to “use our allotted time on earth more wisely.” A wise use of part of this Sunday would be a peaceful, prayerful visit to a cemetery. — Thomas J. Dermody, editor-in-chief, The Catholic Post

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