Are you ready for the journey?
PRIESTS aren’t supposed to have favourites, but some parishioners find a special place in your heart. We are only human after all.
I got an email to call a funeral director. I began to take the details of the funeral. I then asked for the name of the deceased. The funeral director responded with the person’s name. Time froze. “Sorry can you say that again please?”
The funeral director repeated her name. “But it can’t be, I only saw her a couple of days ago, she’s one of my parishioners, she brings me a cup of tea after every service.”
Tears welled up in my eyes, surely not her. “When did she die?” I said. “On the 4th of October”. I noted it as St Francis’s day, our church’s patron saint.
Preparing a funeral is a job I take seriously. In less than three years I have buried a third of my congregation. Most have died with me by their side. Most were booked for Glory, as I call it, but this one was a total surprise, a shock even.
Walking with people into death is the greatest privilege a priest has. On many occasions I am acutely aware of the presence of angels in the room and have even experienced people being able to see into heaven as they die.
There is a moment when I become conscious that the person’s soul has passed from this life. It is an intimate moment as, in the midst of great sorrow, God draws intimately near. My parishioner died on St Francis’s day. The saint wrote: “All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Death, from whose embrace no mortal can escape”.
Every human has a date with death. Most of us aren’t ready to go and meet with God. For some it will be known that we are dying. For others, like my parishioner, it will be quietly in their sleep.
The question is, are we ready to make that final journey? What I know for sure is this, for those who belong to Christ the crossing is a welcome homecoming. Are you ready for the journey? Perhaps it is a rendezvous you need to prepare for by making peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. My parishioner was ready and I know for her heaven will be a blessed homecoming.
May she rest in peace and rise in glory
Priest In Charge at St Francis, Mackworth