- 1910, Aladar Korosfoi-Kriesch, Budapest
A sad day right after a happy feast. So logical. First we celebrate the saints who stand before the Throne of the Lamb, chanting "Holy Holy Holy Lord, God of Power and Might" and then we remember and intercede for those souls being purified by the fire of God's Love, so they will be clean before God, a joyful pain we can only faintly imagine.
I was lecter at Mass this morning, and this is one of those "multiple-choice" reading days. Any of the second readings and Gospels for the Masses for the Christian Dead can be used. But the first reading is required, and it always chokes me up:
The souls of the just are in the hand of God,
and no torment shall touch them.
They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead;
and their passing away was thought an affliction
and their going forth from us, utter destruction.
But they are in peace.
For if before men, indeed, they be punished,
yet is their hope full of immortality;
chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed,
because God tried them
and found them worthy of himself.
As gold in the furnace, he proved them,
and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.
In the time of their visitation they shall shine,
and shall dart about as sparks through stubble;
they shall judge nations and rule over peoples,
and the LORD shall be their King forever.
Those who trust in him shall understand truth,
and the faithful shall abide with him in love:
because grace and mercy are with his holy ones,
and his care is with his elect.
- Wisdom 3:1-9
(I hear my Protestant friends flipping through their Bibles, thinking "this is where?" Sorry, you don't have this beautiful book in your version.)
Then, as if any tiny sniffle was about to be successfully beaten down, we get to hear and pray:
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul.
He guides me in right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
with your rod and your staff that give me courage.
You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Only goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for years to come.
- I don't have to tell you that's Psalm 23, slightly chopped and changed so that it can be used as a responsorial prayer
God's Mercy is just as terrifying as His Justice, sometimes. But this is a tenderness we should hold onto for dear life.
I always feel close to my Jewish friends in issues of birth, death, family, and our turning towards God in those times, so I looked up the Jewish traditional prayer said in remembrance of the dead, the Kaddish:
Glorified and sanctified be God's great name throughout the world which He has created according to His will. May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and during your days, and within the life of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon; and say, Amen.
May His great name be blessed forever and to all eternity.
Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, beyond all the blessings and hymns, praises and consolations that are ever spoken in the world; and say, Amen.
May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.
He who creates peace in His celestial heights, may He create peace for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.
Remember your dead today, and commend their souls to God's Mercy and Love. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.