I am regularly asked in recent times, how is the crematorium going in Shannon? On Thursday last All Souls Day I asked a staff member of the crematorium for the latest statistics and as of that day, 141 cremations have taken place since it opened in June.
By Fr. Tom Ryan P.P.By Fr. Tom Ryan P.P.
These 141 people have come from Mayo to Cork, Wexford to Clare. This does not surprise me as I was always of the opinion that for an increasing amount of people this would be their choice at the end of life.
There is an old Italian proverb that says; “Love makes time pass, but time also makes love pass.” It is sometimes used with reference to the Holy Souls. In November the splendour of the year crumbles, the autumn leaves fall to the ground and are blown across fields and forest. The bare branches of the trees are etched across grey and wintry skies. Nature seems to be preaching a silent sermon about beauty fading and everything disappearing. God alone remains.
In such a setting November is well suited as the month we set aside to remember, in a special way, those who have gone before us and with whom we lovingly shared happy times. Memories come flooding back of those who have been with us until recently; those who were alive last year.
57 people have been buried or cremated in the parish of Shannon since this time last year. We remember those who shared our childhood days; those who were the constant companion of our early adult years and with whom we met the adventures and responsibilities of life; those who gave us their love and received our own; and those who gave us life.
Each has carved a special place in the hearts of the people who knew them. Some of them left a name behind them so that their praises are still sung. Others have left no memory and disappeared as though they had not existed.
An elderly lady with no relatives told me recently that one of her greatest fears is that there will be no-one to pray for her after she leaves this world: “I am the last of the family – there will be nobody coming behind me to pray for me.” she lamented.
The month of November is an attempt to reach out in faith to those who have connections with us but who have died. As we visit churches and cemeteries we bring with us in our hearts unanswered questions as to what life is all about. Why are we here? Where did we come from? Where are we going? Is there a hereafter?
While the meaning of life is often elusive, the meaning of death, humanly speaking, is beyond our grasp. Is it the final act absolute end of our existence and the conclusion to life on earth? Where are our dead? What shall become of them? Shall we ever see them again?
It is precisely because of the reality of death that we must take life seriously. Our Christian hope is not that we can communicate with the dead but that Jesus died, rose from the dead and will come again in glory. The person of faith believes we are precious and that death is our passing over to God. It tells us that even now we must start living as men and women of another world.
From the earliest time there has been a solidly based belief among the faithful at praying for the Holy Souls. Some of us may wonder why we pray for the dead. Does it make any sense? What possible difference can our prayers make to a person who has died? We pray for the dead for the same reason as we pray for anything. Praying for our dead loved ones can help heal our relationship with them.
When a close friend dies it can happen that we experience a certain amount of guilt because, being human, we have had a less than perfect relationship with the deceased. There is much unfinished business between us. There may have been disagreements that never were fully resolved.
All of us have experienced the pain of letting go of a loved one and giving them back to God. We all need to pray and praying does us good and helps us. Praying for the dead comforts and consoles the living.
Mass For Our Dead
67 people have died in Shannon since November last. Many other families have been bereaved by the death of a close family member outside of Shannon. Our Annual Mass of remembrance will take place in St. Patrick’s Comprehensive School on Monday next, 13th November, at 7.30pm. All are welcome to come and Remember.