Fr T and I are just coming to the end of a week when we have celebrated three Masses for the deceased. On Monday it was a Mass of the Angels for Seren, a tiny baby, yesterday it was Requiem for Maureen, a lady of 89 years, and today I celebrated a Memorial Mass for Jacques, a young man of 24. These three Masses have been completely different, in that the age range has been 89 years. But all of them have been about proclaiming Easter and its effect on each and every individual, of no matter what age.
As priests we are so privileged to be alongside both the dying and the bereaved. We are invited to be part of people's lives at even such a sensitive time. The loss of a baby, the loss of a sister who left Ireland and gave her life to nursing, the loss of a son - these are moments of pain and loss. Yet how inspiring are the People of God. Somehow, somehow, we must live through these moments, and we reach out for one another and for God. Jesus' invitation to Thomas a week after Easter - "Give me your hand" - is nowhere more poignant than at times like these.
Jacques father spoke this morning of how much his son had wanted to be like his father, whereas he, his father, so much wanted to be like his son. These and similar insights, are scattered liberally through bereavment and I try receive and treasure them with great attention and humility.
So thankyou families, for your love, your faith and your hope. You often say kind words to us after a funeral, but it is really us who should be thanking you.