The Catholic Cemeteries of Ottawa meet the needs of individuals, families and parishes in the Archdiocese of Ottawa in preparation for, at the time of, and following the loss of a loved one.
Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J.
December 13, 2013
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
Some of us have lost a dear loved one in the past year. Memories of them stay with us, and the thought of living through a Christmas season without them makes us sad. I know from personal experience how difficult it can be to feel joy or to experience hope at such times. Likewise, we know that Jesus himself felt sorrow at news of the death of his friend Lazarus (John 11.35).
Death is a natural process that brings to an end someone’s earthly life. Our existence, even if it is fleeting in appearance, nonetheless bears within it a seed of eternity. In fact, even when the physical body passes away, those who are dear to us remain present to us in our happy memories of them and in our knowledge that they share in life with God. Jesus summons us to an eternal existence that death itself does not change and the Apostle Paul described as the “eternal life that God, who never lies, promised before the ages began” (Titus 1. 2).
We Christian believers bear in ourselves the joyous hope of this manifestation of eternal life. We are called to nurture hope within ourselves in both good times and in bad, and to remain steadfast in joy (1 John 1.2-4).
Pope Francis recently recalled this truth for us in his exhortation on the “Joy of the Gospel” (Evangelii gaudium):
Joy adapts and changes, but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved. I understand the grief of people who have to endure great suffering, yet slowly but surely we all have to let the joy of faith slowly revive as a quiet yet firm trust, even amid the greatest distress: “My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is… But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness… It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord” (Lamentations 3.17, 21-23, 26).
May the joy of Christmas, which signals the coming of the Son of God, dwell in our hearts.
Your pastor, who loves you and supports you in prayer,
+Terrence Prendergast, SJ
Archbishop of Ottawa