Funeral for Sr. Cecily Graves | 2017 - All Souls Day
By Bishop Emeritus Frederick Henry
For a Catholic, with the Feasts of All Saints/Souls it would be hard to pick a better time for a funeral.
For some time now, scientists have been sending signals into the cosmos, hoping for a response from some intelligent being on some lost planet.Even if inhabitants outside of the solar system existed, communication with them would be impossible, because between the question and the answer, millions of years would pass.
The Church has always maintained a dialogue with the inhabitants of another world -- the saints. That is what we proclaim when we say, "I believe in the communion of the saints." Here, though, the answer is immediate because there is a common centre of communication and encounter, and that is the risen Christ.
We are like the embryo in the womb of a mother yearning to be born. The saints have been "born" - the liturgy refers to the day of death as "the day of birth." To contemplate the saints is to contemplate our destiny. All around us, nature strips itself and the leaves fall, but meanwhile, the feasts of the saints/souls invite us to gaze on high; it reminds us that we are not destined to wither on this earth forever, like the leaves, or to be covered up by snow.
Sr. Cecily’s Funeral reminds us that our bodies will one day give out. Somewhere, sometime, sooner or later, we will experience the startling reality of death. Then what? Is it all over for the individual? Nothing but extinction, absolute silence, darkness? Will there be no more love, no more joy, no more laughter?
Jesus assures us that there is a future for us. He has personally walked ahead of us through the doors of death and came back and say there is light, love and laughter and rejoicing in the presence of God.
Our funeral liturgy reminds us of Job: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side, ....”
Listen again to the consoling words of Scripture:
Paul to the Corinthians: “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died... and then at his coming those who belong in Christ”.
John 12:26: “Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am. There will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.”
Instead of looking back at Sr. Cecily’s life, we all bring to this celebration so many memories of her, and various experiences and events, and it would be easy to fall into a nostalgia-like experience but I tried to imagine what she would say to us today and here is what I came up with.
Sr. Cecily might very well say: The first thing to do would to overcome our indifference and insensitivity to the poor. What we are to do for them in practice can be summed up in three words: love, help, and evangelize.
- Love the poor. Loving the poor means first of all respecting them and recognizing their dignity. Francis of Assisi would remind us that they are not simply our "fellow men" or our "neighbours": they are our brothers and sisters!
- The duty of loving and respecting the poor is followed by that of helping them. It is not about getting angry with God in face of the misery of the world, but angry with ourselves."Oh God, where are you? Why don't you do something for that innocent creature?" But an inner voice replies: "I have done something -I created you!" Sr. Cecily, from time to time, would came to my office with a tale of woe from near or far and say : “Bishop, what are you going to do about it?” I would say - good issue, bad question - “What are we going to do about it?”
- Finally, evangelize the poor. This was the mission that Jesus recognized as his own par excellence - reading from the scroll of Isaiah:”The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor." The poor man does not live on bread alone but also on hope, and on every word that comes from God's mouth.
Her imagined words are not surprising as they are based in the Franciscan tradition: Quote from a letter of St Francis of Assisi - the Office of Readings for October 4. “Furthermore, let us produce worthy fruits of penance. Let us also love our neighbours as ourselves. Let us have charity and humility. Let us give alms because these cleanse our souls from the stains of sin. Men lose all the material things they leave behind them in this world, but they carry with them the reward of their charity and the alms they give. For these they will receive from the Lord the reward and recompense they deserve. We must not be wise and prudent according to the flesh. Rather we must be simple, humble and pure. We should never desire to be over others. Instead, we ought to be servants who are submissive to every human being for God's sake. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on all who live in this way and persevere in it to the end. He will permanently dwell in them. They will be the Father's children who do his work. They are the spouses, brothers and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Praying for those who have died should be a quiet fondness for them before the Lord. We pray for Cecily today with a quiet fondness.
Remembering our departed loved ones like that, praying for them, keeps us in ongoing communion with them. We believe that they are with the Lord, who is also with us in this life.
As part of Development and Peace Jubilee campaign celebrating our 50 years, Caritas Canada is now looking to the future. After highlighting the role of women at the heart of change in the Share Lent campaign, the Fall education campaign focuses on women’s role in building peace.
Women and peace: a historical relationship
Women have long been associated with peace and reconciliation around the world. Women have made vital contributions to peacebuilding and peace processes in diverse places such as Colombia, Guatemala, Liberia, Northern Ireland and the Philippines, just to name a few. There are countless examples and studies of women’s organizations engaging in the process of peace and reconciliation, whether at the national or international level, going as far back as World War I.
The impact of women peacebuilders was publicly recognized and rewarded in 2011, when the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to three inspiring women for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work: Ellen John¬son Sirleaf (Liberia), Leymah Gbowee (Liberia) and Tawakkul Karman (Yemen). This decision by the Nobel Committee reaffirmed the importance of women’s contribution to peace.
We are all invited to learn more about the vital role women play in conflict prevention and peacebuilding. All around the world, courageous women are working for a more peaceful world.
Together, let’s take action for peace!
LET’S COMMIT to standing alongside women and organizations that strive to build a more just and peaceful world. Because women play a vital role in conflict prevention and in building just, sustainable and inclusive peace.
Your action counts! We suggest different ways of acting, so you can do it your own way. Support our campaign by filling out our online Action Card, or by spreading it on social networks.
2017 CAMPAIGN RESOURCES
- Poster | Give your campaign visibility with this beautiful poster.
- Action Sheet | The Action Sheet summarizes the key thematic issues of our campaign and calls for action to recognize the importance of including women in peace processes.
- Action Card | The Action Card is our main mobilization tool. Please distribute Action Cards in large numbers in order to send a strong message to the Canadian government: supporting women is supporting peace!
- Faith Based Reflection | This short reflection explores how our faith calls on us to recognize and support the work done by women working for peace.
- Backgrounder | In this backgrounder, you’ll find a detailed analysis of women and peace process, as well as examples of our partners’ work on these issues.
- Campaign Guide | The Campaign Guide was included in the Campaign Ordering Kit and will also be included with each order.
The current hurricane season in the US and the monsoon season in SE Asia have brought much destruction due to flooding. Hurricane Harvey has caused thousands of homes to be destroyed and people evacuated to shelters. Devastating floods across SE Asia have displaced 41 million people. When natural disaster happens, the resulting death and destruction becomes a shared experience wherever it strikes.
Outreach efforts by the Archdiocese of Galveston/Houston have included 25 parishes serving as shelters and/or donation centres. Catholic Charities and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul will be providing direct long-term assistance and case management services to victims as they begin to rebuild.
Meanwhile, Caritas organizations are responding to the needs in India, Nepal and Bangladesh by providing food, clean drinking water, and shelter. Emergency relief is also focused on preventing the spread of waterborne disease by delivering health, hygiene and sanitation support.
Let us pray for the victims of these disasters, standing in solidarity with them as they continue with recovery efforts and start to rebuild from such devastation. Just as the Diocese mobilized together when Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti, let us once again do so to help the millions impacted by these natural disasters.
Donations made to help with Hurricane Harvey will be sent to the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston/Houston. Donations made to assist with the emergency relief in SE Asia will be sent through Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace – Caritas Canada to help with humanitarian aid for Caritas India, Caritas Bangladesh and Caritas Nepal. Donations can be made online through the Diocese of Calgary website or mailed to the Catholic Pastoral Centre.
Please forward all funds collected to the Pastoral Centre.
- DONATE ONLINE or
- Send a cheque to Catholic Pastoral Centre (120 17th Ave SW, Calgary T2S-2T2) and mark cheques with a note – Hurricane Harvey or South Asia Floods.
☩ William McGrattan
Bishop of Calgary
It has been a busy summer. Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ encyclical on care for our common home celebrated its second anniversary this past June. To reiterate our Holy Father’s call to action, the Social Justice Office has been promoting the Laudato Si’ Pledge. The pledge asks that we do three things: Pray for and with creation; Live more simply; Advocate to protect our common home.
We were at One Rock this year promoting the campaign. Archbishop Pettipas stopped by and made the pledge. Bishop McGrattan, after his Mass on Saturday, not only endorsed the pledge, but encouraged everyone to do the same. After taking the pledge, many had their photos taken with Pope Francis in the selfie booth. It was tons of fun but more importantly, the signed pledges were added with others from around the world. It was a great act of solidarity!
The Laudato Si’ Pledge campaign continues throughout the upcoming Season of Creation which begins with the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation on September 1. This special prayer day was instituted by Pope Francis for our Church back in 2015 because he shares the concern of Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I, who initiated a similar day of prayer back in 1989. Pope Francis has called this day to be a time for individuals and communities to “reaffirm their personal vocation to be stewards of creation, to thank God for the wonderful handiwork which he has entrusted to our care, and to implore his help for the protection of creation as well as his pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live” [Letter, August 2015]. Pope Francis wished this day of prayer to be celebrated “with the participation of the entire People of God: priests, men and women religious and the lay faithful and should become a significant occasion for prayer, reflection, conversion and the adoption of appropriate lifestyles.”
But we don’t have just this day to celebrate and pray for Creation. In the Pope’s 2016 letter, he endorsed celebrating the Time for Creation. During these five weeks, we can join Christians from every continent who are leading prayer services and symbolic actions to protect creation. There will be a Blessing of the Animals at St. Joseph’s Parish on September 23, at 10:30 a.m. Bring the whole family, along with your beloved pets and animals for a special blessing. St. Patrick’s Parish will have a Live Laudato Si’ workshop on September 25 and 29. There are many prayer service resources available. Please contact the Social Justice Office for more details. By participating in events or symbolic actions, big or small, we can all make a difference.
The CCCB, along with other faith leaders in Canada, has launched a national appeal to help address the famines and extreme food shortages in these four countries.
The threefold response is:
- Pray - for people, for government leaders and humanitarian workers in the region.
- See Prayers of the Faithful
- Give - all parishes has been asked to take up a second collection. See Bishop McGrattan's letter. Give online here.
- Speak Out - speak about the crisis with your friend, family and neighbours; write to your local MP.
- The attached fact sheet provides some details of what our faith leaders have called "one of the world's largest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War".
- See also the following links for more information: