Burying the dead is a corporal work of mercy. If this Lent has you thinking about how to extend corporal and spiritual works of mercy into your life, here are five ideas that are simple but rewarding.
1. Offer a mass for a deceased loved one. Many people contact their parish to have a daily or Sunday mass said for their loved one. This is a beautiful way to remember a special day, such as their birthday or date of passing. However, you don’t need a special day to offer a mass. Any day is a good day to offer a mass for the deceased. If your parish doesn’t offer a daily mass time that fits your schedule, consider noon mass at one of several parishes in the archdiocese, an evening mass, or Saturday morning mass.
2. Visit the cemetery with family members and share memories about the deceased. Take along a blanket to sit on and/or flowers to leave at the gravesite (for rules regarding memorializations at different types of interment spaces, click here). Share memories, special stories, photograph albums or songs that have a special place in the remembrance of your loved one.
3. Attend a funeral for someone who doesn’t have many family or friends to attend. This mass is offered for the repose of the soul of the deceased. Your parish priest or receptionist can give you guidance about funerals where attendance may be low due to age or distance. Don’t feel shy about attending, as your prayers for the deceased are invaluable.
4. Be open to listening to the funeral and burial plan arrangements your elderly loved ones may have. Help reassure them that you understand their wishes. Engage gently in a discussion with family members. Even those who are not anticipating an approaching death may have ideas they want to communicate about their funeral and burial ideas.
5. At prayer time at home, light a candle for family members you have lost. Encouraging children to create their own special prayer for deceased loved ones can create a lasting tradition in your family. Or, share a prayer such as this well-known one: “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.”
These scripture readings on the topic of death and dying are recommended by the USCCB and may help facilitate a family discussion regarding the topic, which is particularly appropriate during Lent.
Psalms 23, 91 and 121
1 John 4:16
John 14:16, 23, 27
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