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.  We are presented with the beautiful colors of the changing leaves before our eyes, the acorns being stored away for the long winter’s sleep 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 Catholic cemeteries has to do with respecting life and 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 Catholic cemeterians, 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.

To Jesus, Through Mary- Finding Comfort, Healing and Peace in the Rosary

“The rosary has accompanied me in moments of joy and in moments of difficulty. To it I have entrusted any number of concerns; in it I have always found comfort.”

-Pope John Paul II

The Rosary is a prayer for finding peace and comfort in times of sadness or distress, however, it is also a continuous source of strength and healing in our routine, daily lives. Throughout my life, I have always remembered having a rosary nearby. Usually, resting on my nightstand or tucked away in a beautiful, zippered pouch inside my purse or drawer. I may not have always prayed the rosary each day, but I remember the peace and comfort of seeing it and holding it in my hands as a child. I received a rosary as a gift on my First Holy Communion and another when I received the sacrament of Confirmation. Throughout my childhood, I was blessed to be taught the praying of the rosary, mainly by my mother and grandmothers. I knew the men in my family to pray it as well. In fact, my father carried his rosary in a tattered black zippered pouch in his pocket every day. Throughout my childhood, I may not have always understood the many reasons that we pray the rosary, but I knew the intense peace I felt as I prayed in unison with fellow church members, students or family. I felt the natural calming effect that the repetition of Hail Marys had on my mind. I could almost feel the Holy Spirit allowing God’s mercy and grace to flow within me.

As I grew older and was blessed to be a member of the Notre Dame community in high school, I found that the rosary was a way to “pray to Jesus through Mary”. While praying and thinking about each of the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful and Glorious mysteries, we journey closer to God spiritually. While praying the rosary, I felt the protection of Jesus, watching over me and guiding me throughout the difficulties of young adulthood. Later in life, as a mother of my own children, I related to this concept because Mary, the mother of Jesus, who held Him as a baby, loved and nurtured Him throughout His childhood, supported Him in His ministry, and ultimately, endured the pain as a witness to His death on the Cross, helped us to see His life from the close perspective that motherhood provides.  She suffered through His difficult moments of strife, as any mother suffers when her child hurts. Like any mother, she also rejoiced in His successes. In His Resurrection, she witnessed firsthand, His triumph over sin and death and His gift of redemption.

One of the greatest joys in my earlier career in education has been teaching the praying of The Most Holy Rosary to young children. I witnessed firsthand, the calming effect that the prayers brought to even the most energetic child. Traditionally, we recited the rosary together in church before or after mass, or during specific times of difficulties, such as on 9/11 or if a loved one was sick or had passed. The recitation of the Rosary has a calming and soothing effect on all of us, whether young or old. At times of loss, we especially feel the strength given to mourners when friends and family recite the Rosary together during the Order of Christian Funerals or before the funeral liturgy at the wake.  It is through Mary and the Most Holy Rosary that we journey together, recalling the events of Christ’s life and allowing our hearts and our minds to be drawn closer to Him, comforted and protected by His love.

Join us in prayer, this month of The Most Holy Rosary, and beyond, as we welcome the Legion of Mary on our CCAirwaves podcast. Remember the month of October is also Respect Life Month. I invite you to listen in to our Rosary Podcast and join in prayer for the intention that all life will remain sacred, in all aspects, from conception to natural death.

In peace,

Kathleen G. McKiernan

Marketing and Communications Manager

A Conversation Could Save A Life

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” ~ Isaiah 41:10

Although autumn officially begins on Wednesday, September 22, it is safe to say that fall, defined as the season between summer and winter, has arrived. September has brought us the splendor of fall leaves, bountiful harvests, cooler weather, students returning to school, Friday Night lights, and … plenty of Pumpkin Spiced Lattes! 

If we are talking about the many reasons why September is so great, we need to add one more reason to the mix. My hope is that by the time you finish reading this blog, and after you have clicked a few links and read the information, you will feel empowered and more confident about starting a conversation with a friend, co-worker, or acquaintance. And this isn’t just any conversation. No, it’s a conversation regarding a topic that was once considered too taboo to mention, and usually involved people whispering. Now, there is a worldwide effort to bring awareness, action and support services to affect change and save lives. September is National Suicide Prevention Month. Organizations in the US and around the world are raising awareness on suicide prevention. This worldwide initiative is one that will de-stigmatize the topic of suicide and challenge all of us to make a difference in someone’s life, simply by having the compassion to ask, to listen, to give support and to stay connected.

The current year is a time where many of us are feeling extra anxious or troubled. Undoubtedly, the anxiety is exacerbated by following 24/7 news or social media outlets. With all the craziness in our world right now, it is even more important for mental health advocates, prevention organizations, survivors, allies, and community members to unite to promote suicide prevention awareness. We need to spread the word that if someone is in crisis, there are many options available to help them cope. Just starting the conversation and asking “Are you OK? Are you really, OK?” is a small, but compassionate effort that could save a life. Reach out to organizations such as Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It is available confidentially and 24/7 for everyone in the United States at 1-800-273-8255. To know the risk factors and to learn more about the warning signs, visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

Healing, hope and help can happen. Suicide is preventable for everyone. By starting the conversation, listening without judgement, providing support, and directing help to those who need it, we can prevent suicide and save lives.

Catholic Cemeteries Association provides services to those who are struggling with grief due to the loss of a loved one. This month, our September 2021 Bereavement Bulletin highlights the topic of Suicide Prevention and Awareness and can be accessed on the website www.clecem.org under the Information tab- Bereavement-Grief Support Newsletter, or by clicking here:

Also- to learn more about the signs of depression and how to help a loved one dealing with depression, read our blog:

“3 Things to Keep In Mind if You or A Loved one may be Battling Depression”- Click Here.

For more information or ideas on how to take action to help prevent suicide- Click Here.

Thank you for doing your part to start the conversation, and to help bring awareness to suicide prevention and ultimately, to save lives. 

Post written by Kathleen Gallagher McKiernan, Marketing and Communications Manager

Love

Love is a word said without hesitation when we are with someone that we hold deep in our heart.  It is a word, an emotion, a devotion, and a sacrifice.  The month of August is dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and when I look to the Blessed Mother, what I see is love.  Mary so loved God that she accepted without question her motherhood and in her humanity, she touches each of us.  Her love for God is seen in the fire surrounding her Immaculate Heart and we see her love for Jesus in the sword which shows to each of us the pain of watching her beloved Son tortured and nailed to a cross.  

We often see Mary through the many artists’ depictions.  Whether it is the Assumption, the Pieta or the many statues placed so reverently in our Catholic churches, we see the Mother of God.  Just for a moment I ask each of you to see her as a mom, raising a son and hoping as parents do, that He find happiness in life.  This mom was destined to watch her Son travel a different path, one that ended in her at the foot of a cross.  Her sacrifice, and willingness to accept God’s plan is an example of pure love.    

Each of us suffers the loss of someone we love, but the beauty of love is that it does not die.  Love continues in our hearts and in our memories shared with the person who is no longer physically with us.  Most importantly, love keeps us connected until the time that we are reunited in paradise.  Our Blessed Mother’s love and her humanity connect us to her and through Jesus we are shown God’s love for us.  The path to paradise is clear and love is the key.   

God Bless,

Andrej Lah

President / CEO

   

The Blessed Virgin Mary: An Example of Courage and Strength

August 2021

August is often referred to as a time of transition. We enjoy the summer days of outdoor activities, relaxation, and a change in our routines. Vacations bring us an opportunity to refresh our outlook and to nurture our relationships with family and friends before students return to their learning. Sometimes we allow the change of pace to alter our routines a bit too much, especially with regards to our spiritual health. It takes courage and perseverance to keep our spiritual lives intact and vibrant, especially when recovering from the grief endured when we lose a loved one.

During August, in the Church, we are given many opportunities and examples to refresh and re-ignite our faith. The month of August is dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The many feasts of saints and martyrs during August, combined with parish celebrations and festivals highlight the courage and perseverance of martyrs, the founders of religious organizations, popes, kings, and several Doctors of the Church. On August 8th , thousands of the faithful celebrated with food, music and the celebration of Mass together at The Fest. This year, The Fest theme “Take Courage” was highlighted by Bishop Malesic. For many who are suffering from the loss of a loved one, finding the courage to remain strong in faith is difficult. For others, a strong faith is the only thing that keeps them going. 

No one gives a better example of drawing on her faith when facing life’s uncertainties than Mary. Mary is the most perfect example of Christian perseverance and courage. The Assumption of The Blessed Virgin Mary, celebrated August 15th, is always a reminder to us of God’s promise of the Redemption. We pray to Mary as our advocate and celebrate her being crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth (August 22). The Memorare of St. Bernard (August 20) states that “No one who has fled to her protection is left unaided.” Praying the Rosary is another way to seek Mary’s intercession in our lives and to ask for the strength to be courageous. 

As we begin to transition from summer and move through August, let us take the necessary time to reflect on Mary’s life and the lives of the many spiritual leaders in our faith whose examples give us a roadmap on how to “Take Courage”.  I, along with all of us at the Catholic Cemeteries Association, wish you peace, perseverance, and courage as you travel your life’s journey, especially during times of loss. 

In peace,

Kathy McKiernan

Marketing and Communications Manager