As January begins, our celebration of the coming into this world of Christ continues and we also honor Mary, Mother of God.  We are connected to her because she is a mom beginning her journey of raising a son.  We find ourselves intimately participating in the life of the Holy Family through the Epiphany and finally we find ourselves at the Jordan River, where Christ accepted his humanity through baptism.  Christ’s purpose is to become one of us, to experience the joys and tribulations of life and to present to us the path to paradise.  This is the beginning of Christ’s journey to the cross and His sacrifice that will open the door for the faithful. 

Death is such an ominous word, and it evokes such difficult emotions.  The heartache caused by the death of someone we care deeply about causes real pain and has in some cases destroyed the lives of those left behind.  We can only find our way through this darkness by focusing on the promise made on that cross. 

Looking beyond the death of our loved one allows us to see that our relationship has not been severed by death but transformed.  Yes, they are not here to touch, but we can still laugh with them and talk to them and sometimes if you listen very carefully, they do answer.  The signs are everywhere, we just need to wipe away the darkness of death and see them in paradise. 

Our faith is the key to open the door and Christ is at the entry waiting to greet us into our new dwelling. 

God Bless,

Andrej Lah

Director of Cemeteries

Purple to White and Gold

Thanksgiving is behind us and the Christmas shopping season starts out with what is commonly known as Black Friday, with Cyber-Monday becoming the new busiest shopping day. The material world has become so dominant that sometimes we lose sight of the true meaning of Advent. Many may not know that the Christmas season begins on the 25th of December, and the time before is set aside for us to prepare for His coming. 

Advent, from the Latin “coming”, is meant for Christians to reflect on our lives and prepare for the coming of our Savior. The weeks before we celebrate the birth of Jesus were set aside for each of us to have the opportunity to repent, to reflect on our lives and prepare our hearts for Jesus to enter without reservation. This time should also be used to reflect on our relationships with our loved ones that have made their journey to Christ. 

We come together at the table with family and give thanks. We celebrate with family the coming of our Lord and Savior. Then we welcome the new year with hope for the future. Unfortunately, for many, the grief of the death of a loved one may cast a shadow over all these celebrations. Grief can consume us and prevent us from seeing the hope that comes with the birth of Christ. He came into this world to bring us from darkness to the light. Advent is the time to reflect on our relationship with Christ and to remove the shackles of this world. We were recently reminded that Christ is the way, the truth and the life and during this season of joy we focus on what one day each of us will experience if we follow two simple rules, love God above all else and love thy neighbor as thyself.  

Wishing you a Blessed Christmas and a New Year filled with the peace of knowing Christ’s love.  

God bless,

Andrej Lah

Director of Cemeteries

All Souls- United In Christ

November is the month where we as Catholics dedicate our prayers to the deceased and give attention to the saints of the church. We pray for the intercession of the saints and for the souls that may be in Purgatory. This is the month when we remember those that served us in our military and give thanks for this wonderful country that through the grace of God, provides us with freedom from tyranny and the ability to worship without fear.  

In our Catholic cemeteries, we witness many expressions of our faith in God, all centered on the gift of salvation – the key to eternal life in Jesus Christ. When we gather to pray for all the saints and the souls of the departed, we do not ask their background nor do we inquire as to the color of their skin, we simply pray for all. A Catholic cemetery is an amazing place of unity, a place where we acknowledge our relationship with God.  

Allow yourself a moment to see this unity the next time you visit one of our Catholic cemeteries. You will read names of all ethnicities and all different nationalities. Kneeling at gravesites you will find members of all races, each taking the time to pray for their loved ones and ultimately expressing their love of God. In allowing yourself to recognize this unity, you will find peace and comfort in a place where there is no partiality. 

In our Catholic cemeteries, we celebrated Mass on Cemetery Sunday, where we offered prayers for all souls that may find themselves in need of our prayers. As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, and the birth of Christ soon to follow, it is up to each of us to pray for the souls of our faithfully departed. We must remember that we are all created in the likeness and image of God and in death each of us will return to Him for our final evaluation. Pray for those that may be in Purgatory, be thankful for the gift of each other as we journey toward our life in paradise.

God bless,

Andrej Lah

Respect Life

In the northern hemisphere, October begins the transition from the warm days of summer sun to the long winter’s rest. The transition is not sudden, as we move slowly from one season to the next. The transition is presented to us through the splendor of God’s creation, in the beautiful colors of the changing leaves, the acorns being stored away for the long winter and the smells of fall telling us to prepare for the time when everything goes to sleep.

Our senses allow us to appreciate God’s creation and we are reminded of how unique this world of ours truly is. It was created for us, His children, to experience life and honor Him until the time that we are called to be with Him in paradise. It is in our appreciation of this gift that we are also commanded by God to respect all life, regardless of where and at what stage that gift of life is presented to us.

At this point you may be wondering what the Catholic Cemeteries Association has to do with respecting life. My response is simply, everything. When we bury our deceased loved ones, we express our respect for the life they lived regardless of the length of time God granted us the gift of that person’s life. When parents come to us to bury their baby that died in the mother’s womb, we bury the fetus in the baby section and provide the family with a memorial because as Catholics, all life, regardless of the time spent on this beautiful home entrusted to us by God, is deserving of respect.

Our natural world is filled with beauty, but God also allows the world to move forward without interference. We are granted the freedom to live our lives with the goal of attaining His gracious gift of eternal life in paradise. Each of us knows the path to paradise; Jesus gave us the map when He told us to love God above all else and love thy neighbor as thyself.

Our cemeteries are places where we celebrate the lives we cherish and are reminded of the final reward.

Harvesting the Good that has been Sown

The sights and smells of fall are upon us.  We are witnesses to the wonders of our natural world as farmers begin harvesting that which was sown earlier in the year.  All that hard work performed in planting the seeds and nurturing the growing plants, leads to the joy of a bountiful harvest.  God’s gift of this world is an amazing thing to experience.  We see this gift in the relationships that we grow with each other.  

Our senses allow us to enjoy more fully the bounty of persons we are connected to as we plant the seeds of each relationship.  We nurture those relationships over time and treasure the harvest of our experiences.  Sometimes, the seed that is planted sprouts quickly and the time to harvest is short, but the sweetness of the fruit remains.

It is often difficult for us to comprehend why the gift of life in some circumstances may last for a very short amount of time.  In one instance, the joy ended before we met.  For another close to me, the joy lasted 11 minutes.  The profound impact that those short lives had on us continue and it is up to each of us to harvest the beauty of that life sown by God and part of the harvest that is Heaven.   

I know the impact those 11 minutes had on me over 20 years ago and have learned to appreciate the harvest of eternal life through the short life of a little angel.  Whether it is 11 minutes, 14 years or 104, each life is sown by God and it is up to each of us to nurture that seed and harvest every moment until the final harvest of eternal life.  

God bless,

Andrej Lah