Faith is the Only Answer

07-08-2018Pastor's LetterRev. John C. Granato

My Dear Friends,

On July 8th, 1984, I was visiting my grandmother in Petersham, Massachusetts, when I received word that my older brother, Michael, had passed away due to complications from Lupus. He was 23 years old. I was a little over two weeks away from my 15th birthday. I was home in Watertown the week before when he was rushed to the hospital because of pain in his shoulders. I remember that final week of his life vividly, and I still remember when my brother Frank came to pick us up from Petersham and bring us home. Needless to say, it was a long ride home. Death is a reality that no one can escape. Most of us have lost a loved one, and if we haven't yet, we surely will sometime. Despite this reality, and the evil of death, we know by our faith in Jesus Christ that death is not the end.

My Dear Friends,

On July 8th, 1984, I was visiting my grandmother in Petersham, Massachusetts, when I received word that my older brother, Michael, had passed away due to complications from Lupus. He was 23 years old. I was a little over two weeks away from my 15th birthday. I was home in Watertown the week before when he was rushed to the hospital because of pain in his shoulders. I remember that final week of his life vividly, and I still remember when my brother Frank came to pick us up from Petersham and bring us home. Needless to say, it was a long ride home. Death is a reality that no one can escape. Most of us have lost a loved one, and if we haven't yet, we surely will sometime. Despite this reality, and the evil of death, we know by our faith in Jesus Christ that death is not the end.

We have faith and hope that there is life after death and that our Lord desires that we come home to Him when our time on earth is over. For some, that time is very short. For others, time seems endless. There are really no pleasant ways to die, and many people have a fear of death and a fear of suffering. This is normal because we are confronted with the unknown. For many people their faith is tested, especially when you lose a child or when a loved one dies a violent death or dies through a deadly disease. But faith is the only answer that makes sense of suffering and death. We place our faith in Jesus Christ and we renew our faith in His Resurrection when we are confronted with death. It was not the suffering that we remember of our Lord on the Cross. It is His love. The love of Christ is the answer to our own suffering. He loves us so much that He placed Himself on the Cross, and, as He breathes His last, He cries out, "It is finished." His covenant, the Blood of the Paschal Lamb, is the sign of this New Covenant. His Blood, poured out for us, washes us clean and as we drink His Blood, we become partakers in this New Covenant and heirs of God, heirs of the Kingdom.

A funeral Mass, which is a response to this love, brings with it the graces and blessings that come to us at every celebration of Mass. It is a participation in the sacrifice of our Lord and a re-presentation of the one true sacrifice, renewed daily on our altars. Our loved one, who is present with us at the funeral Mass, is entering into eternity and is more alive than ever before. We come to Mass with our prayers to pray that our loved one is making his or her way to the Heavenly Kingdom, and the funeral Mass, through the Rite of the Catholic Church, brings with it the assurance that our prayers will help our loved one through the final purification, making us holy to be in the presence of our Lord.

A funeral is not a celebration of one's abilities and hobbies and cooking skills. A funeral is a participation in the life and Resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. God desires that no one is lost and that all are saved. The prayers and readings bring us comfort in the Good News of eternal life, offered through Jesus Christ, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. After 34 years since his death and the countless Masses that I have personally celebrated for my brother in my 12 years a priest, I have faith and hope that I will see my brother again in the Kingdom of Heaven. In the meantime, I will still remember him by name as I do whenever I celebrate Mass.

God bless.
Fr. John

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