I am keeping the customary three masses today for the Holy Souls. The first Mass was at the crack of dawn, 6.30am for which a small congregation attended before starting the work of the day. At 9.30am, after Office of Readings and Lauds, the second Mass was celebrated to a larger congregation. Following this Mass a group of us headed towards the outside South side of the church for the blessing of the resting place of Fr Castelli, founder and benefactor of this church. From here, we climbed the gentle slope to the orchard behind the presbytery where the ashes of members of the congregation are laid to rest. It is a truly peaceful place in which the prayers, surrounded by a spectacular autumn scene, enabled us to focus our thoughts.
This done and back to church two elderly ladies of the congregation awaited to take me to the cemetery of the local Anglican church where, in what looks like the latest extension, some Catholics are laid to rest. It was there that I had a surreal experience. Criss crossing tombs and small footpaths these ladies were pointing out to me where the Catholics are buried. They introduced them to me as though they were sitting there in real life, adding their own stories and memories of the dearly departed. You could see the emotion in their eyes as they introduced me to their friends, their husbands, their family members, people who were very generous with our Parish Church. The daily faith and commitment of these two ladies and of my new “acquaintances” drove home to me in a very powerful way the communion of saints as few textbooks have ever done. “Please bless him/her, Father” and “Please say a prayer here Father” sounded like the responses of a responsorial psalm of faith, of the sure knowledge that all is well in Christ. And then we passed a grave of a young man who died tragically, “Father he was not a Catholic, but can we say a prayer please?”; “Father this poor person has no cross and no stone and no flowers, can we pray here?”. How fortunate I was to make this pilgrimage and to be with these two ladies who are truly keepers of precious memories and splendid witnesses to our faith in life everlasting. They ensure that the memory of the departed will not perish, the memory they offered me this morning will stay with me for a long time. To both of them I am truly thankful.
Off to a visit now, to be followed by Office and Rosary. Third Mass tonight at 8pm.