Lastly, let us remember before the Lord that multitude of which no man can number,
who in the hope of the resurrection have passed through the valley of the shadow of death;
and let us pray that the Lord may grant unto them his eternal light.
V. Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord,
R. And may light perpetual shine upon them.
Into thy hands, O Lord, we commend the souls of the all the faithful departed,
as into the hands of a faithful Creator and most loving Saviour,
beseeching thee to grant unto them forgiveness and peace; Jesu, mercy.
Grant that all stain of sin may be done away,
and that in thy light they may see light; Jesu, mercy.
Grant unto them the renewing and enriching of thy gifts to them,
that with all their powers they may serve thee and thy kingdom; Jesu, mercy.
Grant to us, Lord, in our pilgrimage the help of their prayers; Jesu, mercy.
Grant to thy Church, Lord, the assurance of the communion of saints
and the joy of their fellowship: that they and we may be for ever one in thee; Jesu, mercy.
Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Our Father...
Now unto him that is able to keep us from falling and to present us faultless before
the presence of his glory with exceeding joy; to the only wise God our Saviour
be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
from Cambridge Offices and Orisons, 1949
arranged by Eric Milner-White and BTD Smith
O day of life, of light, of love!
The only day dealt from above!
A day so fresh, so bright, so brave,
’Twill show us each forgotten grace,
And make the dead, like flowers, arise
Youthful and fair to see new skies.
All other days, compared to thee,
Are but Light’s weak minority;
They are but veils, and cypress drawn
Like clouds, before thy glorious dawn.
O come! arise! shine! do not stay,
Dearly lov’d day!
The fields are long since white, and I
With earnest groans for freedom cry;
My fellow-creatures too say “Come!”
And stones, though speechless, are not dumb.
When shall we hear that glorious voice
Of life and joys?
That voice, which to each secret bed
Of my Lord’s dead,
Shall being true day, and make dust see
The way to immortality?
When shall those first white pilgrims rise,
Whose holy, happy histories
– Because they sleep so long – some men
Count but the blots of a vain pen?
Dear Lord! make haste!
Sin every day commits more waste;
And Thy old enemy, which knows
His time is short, more raging grows.
Nor moan I only – though profuse –
Thy creature’s bondage and abuse;
But what is highest sin and shame,
The vile despite done to Thy name;
The forgeries, which impious wit
And power force on Holy Writ,
With all detestable designs,
That may dishonour those pure lines.
O God! though mercy be in Thee
The greatest attribute we see,
And the most needful for our sins;
Yet, when Thy mercy nothing wins
But mere disdain, let not man say
“Thy arm doth sleep”, but write this day
Thy judging one: descend, descend!
Make all things news, and without end!
Henry Vaughan, 1621-1695
‘Now the work of the Church is one. Through all the diversities of operations of the Divine Spirit, He is ever tending to the fulfilment of one purpose, the perfecting of the revelation of Christ in His new creation. And that work is in the unseen and spiritual world. The departed are withdrawn entirely from this world of sense, and are in that world only. We are in both worlds. Outwardly in the visible world, by the sacraments of Christ we are brought within the veil, where Christ is, and are called to share in the one life-work of His mystical Body. Those who are wholly within the veil have no sacraments, but the same Holy Spirit energises in them Who works in us through sacraments. And as in the natural body it is during repose that the processes of nutrition are most active, repairing and strengthening the wasted and worn tissues; and as for the fulld development of the human frame there are needed both the periods of outward activity in which there is wear and tear, and trial and strain and fatigue, and the periods of rest in which there is renewing and building up; so may it be in the spiritual life. We have the period of struggle and trial in this life, and of silent working—the secret fashioning and building up by the Spirit of God – in the unseen world. But there is this great difference between the natural and the spiritual life. The former is isolated in each individual bound up in his own personality; the latter is one in all he whole Catholic Church, and it is bound up with the Being of God and with the Person of Christ. “God hath given unto us eternal life, and this life is in His Son”. The life, we repeat, is one in the one Body of Christ. No supernatural actions of members of that Body can be isolated, for they are actions of the one Life which is by the one Spirit of God. The souls of the departed are still His temples. His working in them and in us is not two separate things, but one. It is true the method and the condition of His working in us and in them are not the same. We are tempted, they are not. In us He works through sacraments, in them, since they are not in the flesh, without sacraments. But the powers of the spiritual life, which was begun in them through sacraments, are being developed and going on to perfection. And we, in offering the Holy Sacrifice, plead for them. The Church Militant, by drinking of the precious Blood of the Saviour, and thus renewing her strength, causes the pulses of that Life-blood to beat with increased force throughout the whole Mystical Body. We members of the Church on earth, by our prayers, are putting forth the spiritual force which is destined to do its part in accomplishing the eternal purpose of God: the Holy Spirit in us working both to will and to do of His good pleasure, guiding our wills to work in perfect accord with the will of God. For the one real force in the whole universe of God is will. This is the highest product of life. In the natural world we see the will of God creating, directing, upholding; and also the angelic wills co-operating with Him in part of that His work. In the spiritual world He calls us also, His human creatures, to take our part, to use our wills. There are two supreme actions of the spiritual world – worship and prayer, the one directed to God alone, without reference to the creatures; the other directed to God, but also having regard to the creatures. It is the Divine purpose that by prayer – i.e., the action of our wills in accord with the will of God – the purpose of God in the new creation should be accomplished. In this we all have our part: the souls of the Martyrs pleading beneath the heavenly Altar, each little Christian child learning to utter its first prayer, each band of devout worshippers at the Holy Sacrifice – all are putting forth spiritual energy, the power of their wills, for one end – “Thy Kingdom come.” And so each is working for all. When we say “Our Father,” we pray for all, for the faithful living and departed, that he would send His grace upon them to enable them to worship and serve and obey Him; we pray that He would give them all things needful for them, that they may obtain remission of all their sins, and find mercy of the Lord in that day. And the prayers of all are directed and inspired by the one Spirit, “Who helpeth our infirmities, for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered… because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God”’.
from a sermon preached in 1888 by John Wale Hicks, Vicar of St Mary the Less, Cambridge
‘[S]uch commemorations of the Faithful Departed, was the Church’s way of giving Glory to God, for His work of Grace, for His redeeming Love. For what are chants that rise up from noblest choirs, from exulting throngs of worshippers, that are even Eucharistic offerings of praise, compared with the bearing home to God of souls tried in the fire, disciplined in the battle, faithful found among the faithless - bearing them home to be witnesses throughout Eternity of the power of the Spirit, Who has sanctified them? And what offering of sweeter savour, could be given to God than the constant recalling of the names, the records of those, who having endured to the end have overcome, as He overcame in Whom they have borne bravely the conflict with evil?
But a yet deeper call, and quickened sense of intercommunion between the living and the Departed, yet has to be kept in mind. We cannot now fully understand how, or how far the dead in Christ know what passes on earth, whether it be that, as some suppose, they know by some direct means of intuition, or, as others think, by seeing what passes here being glassed in their vision of God - while yet whatever is thus seen must be tempered, so that what would trouble their peace must be hidden from their eyes - whatever would distract their loving gaze on God must be withheld - or there would not be really “rest from their labours”. But to suppose that change of state would change their interests, change their fellow-feeling - change their desires towards their fellows still struggling on earth - this would seem inconceivable. And if it be so, then in a world where worship and a sense of dependence on God, must possess every soul to a degree of which we can form no adequate conception, we cannot doubt that their intercessions ever rise for us in constant prayer - tender, and true, and fervent, - that they who know our needs, our weaknesses, by their own long experience of like trials, cannot but pray, however they may have failed on earth to pray for others’.
Canon TT Carter, 1808-1901
‘The manner in which people regard death relates a great deal about how they evaluate life. To many today the elevation of humanity and its needs above the ancient notion that life exists for higher purposes than our welfare, has reached a point where death itself seems a kind of blasphemy. We exalt ourselves so thoroughly that we cannot conceive of an order of things in which our desires are not sovereign. Translated beyond the grave this means that those who believe in survival after death – probably a large majority – reject the idea that, in a future state, they will experience anything but uninterrupted bliss. When life is considered as the endless pursuit of happiness, and the indulgences of pleasure are imagined to be the greatest good, it is scarcely surprising that a serene eternal life should be claimed as a normal extension of worldly existence. Modern people are universalists. In their picture of the afterlife there is happiness all round, no judgement, and limitless continuation of familiar human relationships. Few see a connection between belief and survival; seemingly any religious opinions are acceptable to God. More, doubtlessly, see a connection between good moral behaviour and survival, but it is always other people’s behaviour, rather than their own, which merits eternal condemnation. Death is regarded as a potentially minor interruption to the pursuit of happiness, no longer linked to judgement. The moral culture which no longer allows discrimination between ethnic groups, different cultures, personal lifestyles, sexual habits, or even religious belief, does not, equally, discriminate between those who have attempted a disciplined spirituality and those who have not. After death, we seem to be saying, it is eternal happiness all round.
This actually raises fearful problems for the priest attending a death. His traditional duty was to remind the dying person of the need for repentance, to assist an act of contrition, and to warn about the certainty of God’s judgement. Such a duty, performed today, would be considered enormously insensitive by the relatives. Death has to be sanitised; everyone has to be assured that they will receive everlasting blessedness. Do modern people really think that? Do they really think so highly of themselves that they believe they deserve to exist forever? Apparently so; it is no longer acceptable for a priest to remind the dying that they stand in urgent need of God’s mercy, but only, instead, to utter bland words of reassurance. The terrors of death remain, however, and the sugared attempts to disguise the horrific fact of universal judgement sound unconvincing even as they are being made. For life has a purpose. That purpose is the service of God. We all do it badly, but to think that we are entitled to exemption from judgement, however we have used our time in the world, is simple folly’.
Dr Edward Norman
Canon Chancellor of York Minster, 1999-2004
now a layman in the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham
Remembrance Sunday this year marks the centenary of the Armistice on 11 November 1918, which brought to an end the Great War. The following photographs were taken at the war memorial in the village of Hollingworth, Cheshire, on the edge of the Peak District, in the week leading up to today's commemoration. We give thanks to Almighty God for all those who, in war and conflict, fought for their nation, their monarch, for freedom and liberty, and for a better tomorrow for their sons and daughters. May their memory not fade, nor their example be lost on us in the midst of the comfort and complacency of our time. And we pray, too, especially, for the repose of the souls of all the Faithful Departed who fell in battle. Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon them. May they rest in peace.
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.
Laurence Binyon CH, 1869-1943
‘We fear to leave this world because our nature is so befogged by sin that we cannot see the eternal glories to which we are called.
Contemplate death as the call of God, calling thee that thou behold himself. At death the Word of God will speak through thy being no new call; the call will be only the carrying-out of that voice which has been speaking within thee throughout thy life. The soul was not intended merely to animate the body for a few years, but to prepare the body for eternal life.
Meditate, then, upon the call of God in death. The soul which during the life has felt within itself an emptiness, condemning itself because it came so short of the divine will, yet sustained by faith in the divine love which still was calling it, - that soul find in this final call of God an intensity of delight, the sweetness of the divine manifestation.
Are we prepared to die? Is our life a real preparation for death? Consider that it is still possible for thee to die the death of a saint. It is still possible for thee to attain to this glory of God. Think not with thyself what thou hast been in the past, but realise the attraction of this heavenly light shining upon thee. There is the voice of impulse from within, and there is the voice of welcome from the other side of the grave. There is the illumination of the image of God within, and there is the glory of Him for whom thou prepares beyond the grave. Thou art indeed to be encouraged, thou art not to despair’.
Richard Meux Benson SSJE, 1824-1915
Fr Lee Kenyon
Priest, Husband, Father, Lancastrian, Mancunian