by Sr Tamsin Mary
Today we saw the laying of wreaths at the Cenotaph. For the soldiers who marched it was a remembrance of lost companions, and for most who watched, either at home or in London, or who attended similar events in their home towns, a reminder of the uncle, the grandfather, the brother or the sister, mother, aunt who did not come home, or who was lost in the bombing raids. No family in these islands went untouched, though some were luckier.
November is the time for this, the time to remember our beloved dead. Sometimes the symbolism of an event like remembrance Sunday or the Blessing of the graves on Holy Souls Day gives us a space for grief unresolved.
Grief creeps up on you, and it helps to be aware - the date, the time of year, the places, the colours, the foods the smells, the sights that used to be special to you because of the one you love now emptied of meaning, and your heart says it has all gone. But in heaven there is a space and a place for every loved good thing, and the reflection of all good is forever in the mind of God.
For Catholics there is more that can be done than to remember and grieve. These painful reminders are a telegram from God to pray for your beloved dead lest they be still in purgatory. Praying for them is the last service you can do them, and it eases the heart. We should also pray for those souls in purgatory who have no one else to remember them and pray for them.
Then, as Fulton sheen says “As we enter Heaven, we will see them, so many of them, coming toward us and thanking us. We will ask who they are and they will say: ‘A poor soul you prayed for in purgatory.'”