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

To learn more about our ministry or the services we provide, visit https://www.clecem.org.

Follow us on Facebook: @CatholicCemeteriesAssociation

and Instagram: @clecatholiccems

Twitter: @CLECatholicCems

Easter Message

On the wall in my office is an old style Catholic sick call box, a treasure given to me by my grandfather. Inside is a statue similar to the Pieta. I keep it where I can see it when I am on the telephone helping a family or when someone is in my office and we are discussing a particular situation involving a family. As I look upon this depiction of our Blessed Mother and the Crucified Christ, I am reminded of my Catholic faith. The depiction of the Pieta is a reminder that each of us encounters death, including our Blessed Mother. The Sorrowful Mother weeps with us when we suffer the loss of someone we love. While each of us mourns in our own way, our Blessed Mother embraces us and tells us that we do not suffer alone. Even more so, she reminds us that there is hope and even joy to be found beyond death.

We know that, in our faith, death is not “goodbye” but rather, “until we meet again.” If you walk through any of our cemeteries, you are easily reminded of this Godly promise. We bury our dead in a sacred place not because they are gone from our lives, but because they are still members of our family and of the Holy Catholic Church. While there is no doubt that death can be sorrowful, we must also find joy in the fact that we will be reunited with our loved ones someday.

If you find yourself struggling in this Easter season, I encourage you to look to our Holy Mother for strength and comfort. She is always there to guide you along your life’s journey and point you toward the everlasting love of Christ.

God Bless.

-Andrej Lah, Director of the Catholic Cemeteries Association
April 2019

April Showers……Makes Me Sad

The Easter season is upon us.  It is a time for renewed hope, a time of rebirth, and a time for rejoicing.  The celebration of the Resurrection of Christ gives us great reason to shout a resounding “Alleluia!”. Jesus has conquered sin and death so that we all might have eternal life – pretty awesome.

Then why does our grief continue or even escalate? During the cold, dreary, short days of winter, it is quite understandable that we may feel sad, reclusive and less energetic…non-grieving people experience this as well.  But when the weather becomes warmer, the days longer and the trees and flowers begin to bloom, we think we should feel less sad, more sociable and have increased energy, but we may not. I notice that during this time of year, the number of bereavement calls I receive escalates. More likely than not the phone conversations start out the same, “Nancy, I know I SHOULD be feeling better now that it is springtime, but…..” There are so many “shoulds” we put on ourselves…. “I should go through my husband’s belongings, I should stop crying so much, I should move on, the list can go on forever. As we travel through our grief journey, these “shoulds” can become stumbling blocks and unnecessary obstacles.

Springtime holds many reminders of our loved ones, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, wedding anniversaries and so on.  So this season may evoke sadness and longing and that’s ok.  Allow yourself to freely feel these things, without thinking about how you “SHOULD” feel. Our God has created each of us uniquely, so each of our grief experiences will be different.  But one thing is constant, and that is the love and comfort of our Risen Lord.

What Did They See

Lent is a time when most Christians reflect on a variety of life’s trials and tribulations. These forty days provides each of us with the opportunity to reflect on our relationship with Christ and our connection to the Catholic Church that He created. This is also a time when we remember those who have completed their earthly journey and through their faith find themselves seated at the table of our Lord. It is because we remember that we pray; it is because of our faith that we have hope. Sitting in a pew and gazing upon the Cross, one can only imagine the pain and anguish suffered on that afternoon in Jerusalem. Some jeered and even cheered and others wept because this man who had done no wrong was to be put to death in a manner reserved for the worst of criminals. To those who do not believe, I ask why was this fate hoisted upon this innocent man and why did He accept it so willingly if not for something greater.

Jesus disciples risen after resAs people of faith, we must be ever vigilant in the face of forces that ridicule us for our beliefs. When we are mocked for actually believing that there is a God and that this Father in Heaven had a Son and the Son came to save us from our sins, we accept this ridicule with grace. When we are told that this story is like those told of the gods of ancient Greece and Rome, we smile and accept this laughter. When we are told that the Holy Bible is a nice story written to entertain the masses, we simply smile and acknowledge the critics blindness. When Jesus is compared to Santa Claus, we pray for the denier and hope that the cloud will be removed from their eyes.

I am blessed to have been given the gift of my Catholic faith by my parents and have been further blessed because it has flourished because of my unwavering belief in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. If ever I find myself questioning my faith or the institution of my Catholic Church founded by Christ, I need only ask “what did they see?”

Hiding in a room terrified that they would be next, the Apostles found themselves lost. What do you do when the man who has been your rock for the last three years is brutally tortured and then nailed to a wooden cross? Fear is an overwhelming emotion and would cause many of us to simply hide and eventually return to our old lives hoping that we escape the fate of our leader. What did they see that made these men rid themselves of the fear and begin building our church? Is it possible that the story is real and that a man who we know to be the Son of God appeared to them and set them on the path to change the world? Only the Divinity of our Catholic Church can truly explain how a man who should have died in obscurity brought hope to our world, a hope that is as real today as it was on that day when a group of men and women witnessed a miracle.

Andrej Lah

“From Where Two or Three Have Gathered In My Name, I Am In Their Midst”

As the bereavement coordinator for the Catholic Cemeteries Association, I am blessed to be involved in many facets of the services our organization provides. One of the responsibilities that I covet the most is reciting the final prayers at a graveside. At times people are not able to secure a priest or deacon; they may be from out of town or they held services in another place and are bringing their loved one to their final resting place privately. There are also some occasions that our organization is instructed to “bury at cemetery convenience”. For whatever reason, family and friends are not able to attend the interment at the cemetery.

Being a Catholic organization, we are committed to the respect for all life from conception until death. The final commendation of the body is a very important part of the funeral rite and I take it very seriously. I am contacted when any cemetery office receives a request for such a burial, “Nancy, we need some prayers said.”

When I am standing by the graveside reciting our beautiful Catholic prayers, I am in awe of the gifts that our Creator has given us. I look around and I see the rolling hills of the cemetery and all of the saints that have been buried there. I see the care of the grounds and the personal memorials and decorations that have been placed so lovingly on the graves. I think of all the contributions that the faithfully departed have made to our world and that is pretty awesome!

There was one burial that will remain forever in my mind. The interment took place at Calvary Cemetery in Cleveland. It was a cold, rainy day (imagine that!). There was no family present at this burial. I began to say the prayers and bless the grave, a little quicker than usual because of the weather. I began to recite the Lord’s Prayer and very quietly behind me there were two voices joining me. I turned around and there, with their heads bowed and their hands folded, were two of our field staff. Even though they were covered from head to toe in mud from their day’s work, they looked beautiful. I didn’t even notice the rain or cold anymore. It was a reaffirmation of our Mission. Faith, Hope and Remembrance.

Nancy Romaine