Promise

Promise is a word used often in our daily interactions, and many of us rely on it to make very important decisions.  A promise builds trust and allows us to look to one another when we need each other most.  A kept promise means we can move forward knowing that we can rely on a person’s word, and we all know what it means when a promise is not kept. 

Every day we wake up to news that seems to be worse than the day before.  Anxiety about the future can be overwhelming.  It seems that uncertainty is the new normal.  Will we have food on our shelves or fuel to move through our daily lives?  In this uncertainty, so many of us are also faced with the recent death of someone we love and all of us grieve loved ones lost even though it may be decades ago.  How do we move forward when it may seem that everything is falling apart?  Where do we turn when uncertainty becomes overwhelming? 

The promise of paradise was made for us on Calvary through the death of Jesus.  He promised us that in Him is our salvation.  This promise is one we can all rely on and in it we will find our refuge from the uncertainty that surrounds us.  Through His promise, our relationship with our loved ones continues.  When placing your hand on the place where your loved one is interred, allow the promise made by Christ to wash over you.  Allow the joy of His promise to wash away your tears and smile because the path to paradise is there for each of us if we are willing to follow it. 

God bless,

Andrej Lah

Director of Cemeteries

We Are the Easter People

“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”

– Saint Pope John Paul II

As we journey through this Holy Week, we reflect on the unconditional, unselfish, and overwhelming love poured out to us as Jesus suffered at Calvary so that we might have eternal life. I feel the utter pain and suffering of Christ, during this Lent, especially. We are living through a time where the invasion of Ukraine has brought global despair and uncertainty to a level that threatens to overshadow the promise of hope. It is easy to lose sight of the promises bestowed upon us at Easter when we are witnessing evil in the world every day. We are humans and we have a connection to others by nature.

We are the Easter people, and the world needs us to act on our faith and share the joy of Easter with all those we meet. When we see the suffering of those who have died in a war or those who are suffering from physical pain or disease, mental illnesses, or when we mourn the death of those whom we love deeply, we feel helplessness and despair.  It is at these exact times that our faith gives us strength and allows our hope in humanity to be renewed.

As Easter people, we can live our lives with a stronger sense of purpose and see beyond despair. We learn to see the goodness that overshadows the evil. We see it in the determination of a people defending their country and we see it in a neighbor or friend who does a kind act of service to those who are grieving.

I reflect on these times, and I realize that we have seen despair before.  Often hope seems to be gone when a loved one dies. However, as Catholics or Christians, we journey through the despair of Holy Week each year, and in the Resurrection, we learn that love has conquered death. Let us allow the Lenten journey and the promise of Easter Sunday to enlighten us and allow us to really see and appreciate the deep love that Jesus has for us. When a loved one dies, let us remember Easter’s promise of eternal life and the words of Saint Pope John Paul II: “Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”

May this Easter bring hope and peace to all and let us remember to be the Easter People each day.

In Peace,

Kathleen G. McKiernan

Marketing and Communications Manager

kmckiernan@clecem.org

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Fatherhood

During the month of March, the Catholic church focuses on the person of St. Joseph, husband of our Blessed Mother and foster father to Jesus.  St. Joseph entered the state of fatherhood when he accepted his role of foster father and took on the responsibility of being there for Jesus.  We find in St. Joseph the true meaning of fatherhood.  We see it in the patience he showed raising Jesus, and in his kindness and understanding.  God chose Joseph to be the earthly father of His son, just as God chooses each of us when He entrusts us with the responsibility of fatherhood.  

The responsibility of fatherhood comes in many forms: paternity, adoption, spiritual and simply being an example to those we connect with in our daily lives.  Fatherhood is a calling to serve those entrusted to our care, to be present, to be an example of God’s love.  It is in the role of father that we feel intense love for the child entrusted to us by God, and this love has no limitation nor condition.  It is because of this intense love that we feel an almost unbearable heartbreak when death severs our earthly relationship. 

When a family experiences death, the emotional burden for the father is overwhelming because of the need to be strong for those left broken by the loss.  A father will feel that he must rise above the pain and become the rock for everyone else.  I am certain that Joseph felt the need to become the rock for Mary and for those suffering the death of Jesus.  In those hours between His death and resurrection, Joseph became the messenger of God’s love.  Fatherhood is a great responsibility, and it comes with God’s unlimited support and the love of Jesus for any man accepting that duty.  A father is the messenger of God’s love and compassion for His children. 

The gift of fatherhood is the responsibility of teaching faith in God and guiding those entrusted to our care to our Heavenly home.  The hour of our separation is not known but God’s gift is the opportunity to be an example of His love and to help guide His children home.  Heartbreak is the natural and human response to death, but the pain is mitigated by the knowledge that we did our best to be an example to our family.  God’s promise to every father is that the separation is temporary, and the path is clear because Jesus, loved by His earthly father, paved the way. 

God bless,

Andrej Lah

Director of Cemeteries

A World In Need of Prayer

Throughout my life, the Feast Day of St. Patrick has been such a culturally rich experience for my family. The day began with Mass amid family and friends, usually followed by the parade and parties where Irish step dancing and uplifting music filled the air. I am thinking of these cultural and family traditions and I realize that when we are missing someone we’ve lost, those days are even more difficult to endure. Yes, the memories bring us comfort, and our faith brings comfort as we celebrate the belief that they have achieved the reward of eternal life in heaven. However, we remain here with God’s work left for us. Somehow, those special days are never the same. We learn to accept the new normal of a celebration without the people we love, the ones who made us love those holidays so much in the first place. We carry on the traditions and keep the love of these traditions alive so that the memories continue.

As we journey through this particular Lent, we are living amid a world engulfed in conflict. We think of all who are suffering in Ukraine, on the other side of our world, in Europe. The reality of the loss of life that has occurred, and the struggle that the refugees are enduring to merely survive each hour of the day seems absolutely surreal in the year 2022. There is also suffering and grief for so many others around the world, in other countries, because of hate and evil among us. The thoughts of missing my loved ones on a holiday pale in comparison and have been totally put in the back of my mind because of the gravity of the situation. What culture and traditions are being destroyed in their country? There is no normal to death or grief, that we know. However, grief that is caused by hate and evil is simply harder to endure.

As the world around them crumbles, I wonder when the children, mothers, fathers, relatives, and friends will feel the comfort of their culture and traditions alive again? Their love for religious or cultural holidays, similar to my love of St. Patrick’s Day, will never be erased. Those traditions unique to their beloved country, Ukraine, must be celebrated again.

We need to pray for God’s intercession and help. The people of the world need to pray for peace as the Blessed Mother Mary, Queen of Peace, implored us to do. We believe that love will always win over hate and that God is always with us.

In the words of St. Patrick, we pray for our world, especially for those in Ukraine, and we remember that we are all children of God.

God of All

Our God is the God of all,

The God of heaven and earth,

Of the sea and of the rivers;

The God of the sun and of the moon and of all the stars;

The God of the lofty mountains and of the lowly valleys.

He has His dwelling around heaven and earth, and sea, and all that in them is.

He inspires all, He gives life to all, He dominates all, He supports all.

He lights the light of the sun.

He furnishes the light of the night.

He has made springs in dry land . . .

He is the God of heaven and earth, of sea and rivers, of sun, moon and stars,

of the lofty mountain and the lowly valley,

the God above heaven,

and in heaven,

and under heaven.

-St Patrick 

May God hold us in the palm of His hand…

In peace,

Kathleen G. McKiernan

Marketing and Communications Manager

Family

Family is such a unique and all-encompassing word. We use it to refer to immediate and extended family, adopted family and sometimes friends become family.  Ultimately, we are all a part of the human family.  This greater family tends to reinforce the idea that each of us is only separated from everyone on the planet by a mere six degrees and if you live in northeast Ohio, the separation is probably no more than three degrees. 

During this month dedicated to the Holy Family, we are reminded of the sacrifices we make for family and how much our love can bring joy,and in the same way, heartbreak.  Joseph had to decide to be a husband to a wife carrying a son not his own, and to be a father to that son.  Mary found herself unable to keep her son from going off into the world and ultimately watched His life brutally taken from Him.  We often forget that despite the miracles, this family was subjected to unimaginable suffering.  While we honor them as the Holy Family, we should never forget that in their humanity, they were a mom, dad, and son.

It is in this humanity that they are connected to us and suffer with us when tragedy strikes a member of our family.  We turn to the Holy Family because they lived a very human existence and suffered the death of their child. 

Each of us at the Catholic Cemeteries Association look to those we serve as members of our extended family.  Our hearts break when death brings a family to one of our Catholic cemeteries.  We understand that it is our responsibility to guide the family through the quagmire of their suffering and assist them with some difficult decisions.  It is impossible for us not to offer a piece of ourselves to that family and to carry a bit of the burden for them.  It is in this moment that we become family and, in our ministry, offer their suffering to God with the knowledge that Heaven is real, and Christ is the map to the new Eden.

God Bless each of you during this month dedicated to the Holy Family.     

Andrej Lah

Director of Cemeteries