Drawing Strength from Our Faith

November is a special time in our Catholic faith when we the faithful take time to remember and honor those who have passed away. In fact, the church has acknowledged All Saints Day and All Souls Day for centuries. As we celebrate those who have entered Heaven on All Saints Day and pray for the souls in purgatory on All Souls Day, we are reminded of what it means to live and die by our faith. Reflecting on the times in history when these holy days were established (609 AD for All Saints Day and 993 AD for All Souls Day) I can only imagine the challenges posed in daily living.  

While some challenges have been eradicated over the years by evolvements in technology and medicine, times are no different now than they were back then. Emotional and physical suffering, political contention, grief, and violence are challenges our ancestors knew all too well. I reflect on their lives and am reminded that we are connected to our ancestors in our Catholic faith. It is our faith that has withstood so many trials and much tribulation throughout the centuries. Today, we are called to connect with those who came before us, as we look to our faith to guide us through these modern-day storms. We are called to turn our eyes toward God in hope of what can be and what is to come. We are called to ground ourselves in faith when the world around us seems chaotic.

It’s very curious that All Saints and All Souls Day fall so close to Thanksgiving. As we acknowledge death, we are also called to be thankful for the blessings God has placed in our lives. Even more so, we are called to be thankful for Christ’s sacrifice, as He opened the door for us all to enter into communion with Him in Heaven, further assuring us that the trials of this life will not follow us into the next.

As we continue to navigate the final months of this turbulent year, let us look to those who have gone before us. May we embody the same strength and faithfulness they did to find glimpses of hope in even the most uncertain of times.

God bless,

Andrej Lah 

November 2020

Reflecting on our Blessed Mother

In this the month of the Most Holy Rosary, I’ve taken some time to reflect on our Blessed Mother and her journey here on Earth. I imagine a young woman quietly enduring the judgment of others as she carries a miracle in her womb. I envision her giving birth in humble manger, only to be rushed away in the night, in fear of Herod’s soldiers. I see a mother’s smile as Jesus grows from a toddler, a mother’s anguish through His teenage years, and her pride as He becomes a young man. I can imagine the grief she felt upon losing her husband, Joseph, and the anxiety she must have felt when Jesus left home to begin His ministry. We often forget that this very human mother watched as her son went out into a world where humanity faced the same sins and temptations we endure today. While Jesus went about sharing messages of kindness, hope, and mercy, those in power at the time chose to reject those ideals. Mary knew that Jesus was there to change the world forever, but she must also have known that His ministry would lead to His death. I can only imagine the torment of knowing her son must honor the purpose for which He was born, while also experiencing real anxiety and grief for what was to come for her son.

When we mourn the death of someone we love, we are connected to our Blessed Mother through her humanity. Just as all of us today, Mary had to put her full faith in God during times of hardship. Faith is a critical part of our ability to traverse the path toward acceptance, whether we’re accepting a deep loss or just a change in our life. Keeping the faith can be hard at times, but God sends us our Blessed Mother as a source of strength and love to help us. Whether at Fatima, Lourdes, La Vang, Guadalupe, or Medjugorje – Mary comes to us in difficult times to remind us that we are called to an eternal life beyond our imagination. She reminds us that God is the map to paradise, and we must follow wherever His map takes us.

During this month of the Holy Rosary, let us call on our Blessed Mother. May she bring the comfort, hope, and peace that this world needs during such hard times. 

God bless,

Andrej Lah 

October 2020

What Matters Most to Us

We’ve reached the time of year when our management team at the Catholic Cemeteries Association must make decisions regarding our annual budget. This entails identifying everything we need to support our 19 cemeteries, 60+ buildings, 35+ miles of road, and over 160 employees.

Needless to say, this is a lot to consider, and it is my job as Director to pay attention to the numbers to make sure we not only have enough funds to cover our current operations, but to ensure we generate enough income to care for the past and prepare for the future. As a self-sustaining entity, this income is generated directly through the sale of places of interment and products such as granite memorials and vaults.

Now, you may be wondering why I’m choosing to talk about the financial side of our ministry. I want you to know that, despite our financial responsibilities, we at the CCA never lose sight of what is most important: serving you.

We know that every sale is the direct result of the loss of a loved one. This is one of the reasons why I take time to walk our cemeteries, to remember those who were so treasured and loved here on earth.

While sales allow us to carry on our ministry, it is the connection we feel with each family that matters most. We at the CCA take our calling to serve families seriously and personally. We never lose sight of the trust placed in us to care for your dearly departed loved ones, and please know that we will continue to work hard every day in order to keep your trust in the years to come.

God bless,

Andrej Lah

August 2020

Keeping The Faith

To say our world is going through a turbulent time is an understatement. The confusion, anger, and fear that many of us face each day may seem incredibly overwhelming, and mourning the loss of a loved one only adds to this stress. It may be hard to find the motivation to remain hopeful.

However, I’ve found much comfort in the simple phrase: keep the faith.

While this suffering may be new to many of us, we must remember that our world is no stranger to suffering. Whether we look to the Jews of Egypt, those who lived during the time of Jesus Christ, those taken from their homes and sold into slavery, among many other groups – we can see how faith gave them the strength and the perseverance to continue on.

Personally, I look to my Slovenian ancestry for strength. I look to my parents and grandparents who were forced out of their homes due to their religious and political beliefs. They left everything they knew behind, only moving forward with the few items they could carry with them. However, despite their newfound poverty, despite moving as refugees from camp to camp, they found a way to celebrate Mass each Sunday. It was their faith in God’s mercy and love that kept them alive, and it was faith that led them to a better life.

We all face our own unique form of suffering on this earth. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed with our struggles. However, we must remain faithful. We must remember that while we our limited to seeing the here and now, God is eternal. He has led the world through suffering time and time again, and He will always provide us with an everlasting hope.

God bless,

Andrej Lah

June 2020

Cherishing Our Loved Ones

Today I attended the burial of a woman I’ve known for years. As solemn as it was to bear witness to her burial, I found myself smiling. I thought back to the moments we shared, and the true privilege it was to know her. The whole event reminded me that every person placed in our life is sent by God. Whether the relationship was good or bad, long or short – every encounter we have is intentional and serves a specific purpose in our path to growing closer to God.

Now more than ever, our world is aware of our mortality. While we cannot control what happens next, we can control our outlook, our actions, and our priorities moving forward. We are all facing degrees of separation right now, whether you’ve recently lost a loved one or are currently social distancing. It is easy to give in to feelings of loss or loneliness. However, as valid as those feelings are, try to balance them with feelings of happiness and peace. Think of the wonderful time you shared with your loved one. Thank God for that time together. That time is a true gift – a reason to smile.

Above all, we must remember that our God calls us to live by faith, not fear. I pray that, despite our circumstances, we may all find a way to connect with those we love and cherish the relationships God has placed in our lives.

God bless,

Andrej Lah

May 2020