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Rediscovering the Joy of the Family

OPENING PRAYER

Lord, source of all comfort,
               you are close to those who are broken-hearted,
               facing times of sadness and loss in their lives.
Help them to know your presence in their time of need;
               touch them with your unfailing love and support,
               flood them with your peace and hope; 
               guide them to your grace and mercy.
Give me a heart that is sensitive
               to those who are grieving,
the wisdom to know when to speak words of comfort
               or when to offer a silent prayer.
Help me to be a channel of encouragement and hope,
               through whom your healing peace will flow.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

READING

John 11:1-5,21-26

“A man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha…The sisters sent word to him, saying, ‘Master, the one you love is ill.’  When Jesus heard this, he said, ‘this illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it’ Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died. (But) even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know he will rise in the resurrection on the last day.’  Jesus told her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”   

MORIS LAETITIA

“To turn our backs on a grieving family would show a lack of mecy." (n. 253)

It consoles us to know that those who die do not completely pass away, and faith assures us that the risen Lord will never abandon us. (n. 256) 

INTERCESSION

That Catholics who experience loss and grief, including the death of loved one, may joyfully reflect the hope that comes from Jesus’ death and resurrection, we pray to the Lord…

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer for those suffering loss

Lord God, you are attentive to the voice of our pleading.
Let us find in your Son comfort in our sadness,
certainty in our doubt, and courage to live through this hour.
Make our faith strong through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Concluding Prayer for the Vigil of the Deceased, Order of Christian Funerals (1989, ICEL, Liturgy Training Publications)

CONTEMPLATION & ACTION

Reflect on the losses you are experiencing in your life at this time.

Reach out to someone you know who is suffering a sense of loss.  Be ready to listen with a compassionate ear.

REFLECTION

Joy of Loss
By: Father Kyle Doustou, pastor of the Parish of the Resurrection of the Lord

 It began for us in March, continued through all of April, and now, this coronavirus pandemic accompanies us well into May. I have to be honest -- I’m getting quite tired of this. The month of May in Maine is always one of the most beautiful months we have, and yet, this year, a dark and ugly shadow has been cast over it. So many are feeling a sense of loss and a disruption to their everyday family life. My heart goes out to our high school and college seniors who should be attending commencement ceremonies this month, to our families who continue to be separated, to our elderly and sick who remain in crippling isolation, to those who have lost loved ones and must wait to celebrate their funerals, to those who lost their jobs or livelihoods, to our healthcare professionals working around the clock to respond to so many needs, to all of our faithful people longing for the sacraments and for the joys of being with our parish community. It’s all very sad and just getting very tiresome at this point. We have lost so much already, and the thought of another month with sickness around us and restrictions upon us just dampens my spirits.

But you know what? No! I’m not going down that road! Because, despite all of this, there is still goodness all around us and many reasons for us to be joyful...little things and big things alike. The days are getting longer. The sun is shining brighter. The breezes are getting warmer. The grass is getting greener. More birds are singing. The flowers are springing up. Gardens are getting planted. The world around us is awaking from its winter’s death and rising again to new life!

What happens in nature is a great reflection and foreshadowing of what happens to every human soul that lives in communion with Christ. We may get pummeled by darkness and cold, we may suffer through piercing isolation, we may be surrounded by sickness and death, but the Son has risen and he chases away our winter of sin and death and offers us new life.

For this reason, as a people of faith, we cannot let our sadness overcome us. We must choose joy! And when Christians choose joy in the midst of suffering, the world around them changes. That is where you and I have to step up! The truth and joy of the resurrection gives us the courage to face this pandemic, not to be defeated by it, and beckons us to get joyfully creative in response to it. This is what we see so many families doing.  They are finding new ways to connect, both within their homes and in their communities. People are calling each other, dropping off meals for one another, celebrating on Zoom, watching Mass on Facebook, spending more time in prayer, and using this sadness to bring about a greater joy.

This is what it means to be Christian: to live in the glory of Christ’s resurrection and to look forward to our own! This is why Pope St. John Paul II reminded us so often that “We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song!” So, sing it with me, my good Christian people. Sing it with me in every fiber of your being: Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!


Note: The Rediscovering the Joy of the Family series may include modifications from the original Joy of the Family series in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.