Funeral Homilies

by Fr. Tommy Lane

All the following excerpts, which are linked with Christian Death and which I have used in funeral homilies, are on this page for your convenience. Clicking on the link below will bring you immediately to the appropriate place on this page. You can find more funeral homilies in Special and Occasional Sermons by Rev Richard J. Fairchild.


These homilies were delivered when I was engaged in parish ministry in Ireland before joining the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Faced with death, life might seem absurd and meaningless. But our Christian faith tells us that despite death life is not absurd and meaningless. Life for each of us took on a completely different meaning when our parents decided to have us baptized into the Catholic Church. When we were baptized we became adopted sons and daughters of God. When we were baptized this planet was no longer our home, then heaven became our true homeland. When we were baptized we were no longer on our own, when we were baptized we were joined with Jesus in leaving behind an old life and beginning a new life.

When Jesus died he left his old life behind him. He rose from the dead, having left behind life in a human body like ours. When we were baptized, we joined Jesus in his dying, leaving behind our old self, and we joined Jesus in his resurrection, becoming new persons. Part of Paul’s letter to the Romans talks of this (Rom 6); When we were baptized in Christ Jesus we were baptized in his death; in other words, when we were baptized we went into the tomb with him and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory, we too might live a new life. In every Mass we remember that we share in Jesus’ death and resurrection, for example “Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life…”. “Lord by your cross and resurrection you have set us free. You are the Savior of the world.”

Because our entire life is living out our baptism, because we want to live our entire lives in such a way that our baptism has a lasting effect on our lives, we are continually trying to leave behind sin and selfishness to become better people.

When we respond at each moment of our lives to the call of God, we prepare ourselves to enter into the Lord’s rest; As baptized we try to be aware of the presence of God in each moment of our lives, like the sunflower that keeps following the sun all day long. God is not just at the end of our life, waiting for us there; God is with us at every moment of our lives. However in the final moment of our lives, we will see God’s love and everlasting light. In this Eucharist we pray for Paddy that perpetual light may shine upon him.

And so as we bury John today, it is true to say we bury one of us, no matter how big or small the funeral is. We bury him in a cemetery which contains people of different faiths, a further reminder to us that it is we who create differences, not God because there is only one heaven surely. I have never yet heard anybody say there is a different heaven for each faith. The fact that we all die is yet another reminder to us that we are all the same before God. No matter how much we owned or possessed, when it comes to the end we are all the same. I have heard from a missionary that in a part of Africa the dead are buried naked. That is to symbolize the fact that we are really all the same before God and as we say, we take nothing with us when we die, we leave it all behind. Here in Ireland we have a very beautiful way of saying that. We say we are only passing through. So as we bury John, we bury one of ourselves.

Paul said in our second reading that our homeland is in heaven. We build houses for ourselves. We decorate them. We become settled in life. Very few people like moving around from one place to another. And yet despite the fact that we are so settled where we are, Paul in our second reading says, that is still not home. ‘For us, our homeland is in heaven.’ We might think we are at home here, but if we have faith we can see beyond the surface of life and we know that we have been created to know, love and serve God.

Josie’s death reminds us that the purpose of life is to know, love and serve God. We believe there is more to life here than what meets the eye because when we were baptized we became sons and daughters of God. In our second reading John said “Think of the love that the Father has lavished on us by letting us be called God’s children; and that is what we are”. It is of course astounding that God bestows his love on us by allowing us to become his children through baptism. As God’s children since baptism we believe that the purpose of life is knowing, loving and serving God, preparing to meet him in heaven. As God’s children we believe that when we die, we go on ahead and we call what’s behind the remains. That’s why we have a donor card and somebody else can use whatever parts may be useful. When we are buried, we are not buried really. We are gone ahead. When the shuttle blasts off, booster rockets fall away after a while. Our body is like a booster rocket which falls off after a while and we continue our journey. The booster rocket falls down to earth again and our body returns to clay again, but as children of God we are gone ahead. So during this Mass we thank God that Josie was his adopted daughter and we ask God to gather Josie to himself.

As children of God we have a glorious future because God in his goodness and generosity wants to share his love and life with us. Again in our second reading John said “we are already children of God but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed; all we know is that when it is revealed we shall be like him because we shall see him as he really is”. There is a gap between this life and the next. A caterpillar could never tell how beautiful it would become as a butterfly with beautiful wings. The unborn baby could never understand what a gap there is between life in the womb and life in the world. How could an acorn recognize itself in the oak tree? So in this Eucharist as well as praying for Josie we can also say thanks to God for that glorious future that Josie is now beginning to enjoy.

Whatever type of body we will have in heaven nobody knows, except that it will be much better than what we have now. Again in our second reading Paul said, the Lord Jesus will transfigure these wretched bodies of ours into copies of his glorious body. Whatever John is experiencing now, it is better than here. In case there is anything in his life that still needs to be purified, we pray for him during this Mass. We ask God to reward him for his goodness and transfigure him to enjoy his true homeland.

As we pray for Johanna today I would also like to remember her as a child of God, as a daughter of God. We don’t think often enough of each other as children of God. We can get knocked about by others on our journey through life, disrespected or taken advantage of and any time it happens it shatters our opinion of humanity. No matter what others do to you, we must never forget our most beautiful calling, our calling as sons and daughters of God which we received on the day we were baptized. Others misjudge us but God’s judgment of us is that we are his sons and daughters. Once again we remember the words of Jesus in our Gospel, “In so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.” So as we bury Johanna today we remember her as a daughter of God. We heard in the reading from Rom 8, “The Spirit himself and our spirit bear united witness that we are children of God. And if we are children we are heirs as well: heirs of God and coheirs with Christ, sharing his sufferings so as to share his glory.” Johanna, like all of us, is an heir of God; she will inherit from God. What will she inherit from God? Once again in our reading we heard “I think that what we suffer in this life can never be compared to the glory, as yet unrevealed, which is waiting for us.” That is what she will inherit, the glory of the resurrection.

We judge everything by value now and what it can produce. Sometimes you would hear people talking about other people as being useful or no use. That is the most dreadful thing, I think, that anybody can say about another person, to be of no use. Describing a person like that is not the way of a follower of Jesus. A follower of Jesus knows that our value is that we are sons and daughters of God, that we will inherit the glory of the resurrection. Whether we are the best of athletes or handicapped, rearing a family at home or working in the factory, we are sons and daughters of God. As I said we don’t think often enough of each other as sons and daughters of God.

Chosen by God

We don’t often think of how precious and special each one of us is in the eyes of God. Our reading from Ephesians (1:3-14) today reminds us how God looks upon us and will give us an idea of the welcome for N into the next life.

We were chosen in Christ before the world was made. Imagine, before the world was made N and each of us was in God’s plan, even before the world was made. We were chosen by God. Just think about it, you were chosen by God. We were marked out for God as his sons and daughters. And it was when we were baptized that we became sons and daughters of God. During these weeks until Pentecost the Church asks us to pray especially for vocations but each of us has a vocation since baptism so our reading said we were chosen to be holy and faultless. Since we are chosen by God it is only natural to want to live lives that reflect the love of God for each of us, that God chose us. What a pity that most of what we see on TV, much of what is in the soaps, does not reflect who we really are, chosen by God. Watching soaps and many other things on TV leaves one with the question, have they any idea of who we really are?

The reading reminds us also that it is through the blood of Jesus that we gain our freedom, our salvation. Someone had to pay the price for our sins and Jesus paid that price. During this Mass once again we offer Jesus to the Father to pay that price on behalf of N so that he may enjoy eternal rest. Since we have been saved through the blood of Jesus think of how precious and valuable each of us. You are worth the precious blood of Jesus. That is how much you cost because Jesus shed his blood for you. N is worth the precious blood of Jesus because Jesus shed his blood for N. Sometimes we hear people say “Its my body and I can do with it what I want.” Our bodies have been purchased for God by the precious blood of Jesus. When we know our worth and value we cannot say “Its my body and I can do with it what I want.” Instead we recognize that we have been chosen by God and that we are worth the price of Jesus’ blood and that our vocation is to be holy and faultless.

The reading said we were stamped with the seal of the Holy Spirit. We first received the Holy Spirit when we were baptized. It is as if God put a stamp, a mark, on us and said, “Now you belong to me. This stamp of the Holy Spirit I put on your at baptism is to show that you belong to me and that I will be back for you.” That stamp of the Holy Spirit on us since baptism is to remind us that as sons and daughters of God we are heirs of God and so we will inherit from God our Father. What will we inherit? Eternal life. N was stamped with the Holy Spirit at baptism, and became an heir of God, promised eternal life and now God has called him. During this Mass we pray for N that God may grant him eternal rest.(For more on this theme see the homily: We are drawn into the love at the heart of the Trinity)

The Grub Becomes a Dragonfly

A priest in Dublin, Fr Jack McArdle explains the difference between this life and the next life this. At the bottom of the pond little grubs were crawling around. They wonder what happens to their members who climb up the stem of the lily and never come back. “I wonder what its like up there.” They agree among themselves that the next one who is called to the surface will come back. The next little grub that finds itself drawn to the surface by nature crawls up the stem and out on the surface on the lily leaf. It was really bright up there. It had been so dark and murky down below. They won’t believe this. Suddenly something begins to happen. The grub begins to open out. The grub spreads out two huge beautiful colored wings and becomes a beautiful dragonfly. It never imagines that this could have happened. It thought it would remain a grub forever. It flew back and forth across the pond. It could see the other grubs in the pond below but they couldn’t see it. It realized there was no way it could get back and that they could not recognize such a beautiful creature as ever having been one of them.

A child was walking through a cemetery one day with his granddad. Puzzled by the gravestones he asked his granddad. His granddad said, “These people were living in those houses. Then God called them and now they’re living in God’s house.” The boy said, “And this is where they left their clothes.” What better way could we explain passing from this life to the next?

Life is a journey, a journey from birth to death. The greatest journey in the Old Testament was the journey from Egypt to the promised land of Canaan which we heard described in our first reading. For us our promised land is not on this earth, our promised land where milk and honey flow is heaven. The journey to the promised land in the Old Testament is a symbol of the journey each of us makes to God as we go through this life. Between our birth and our death we are pilgrims on the road to God. We are but travelers on a journey, pilgrims on a pilgrimage to God.

For that reason, Paul, as we heard in our second reading, describes life as a tent we live in (2 Cor 5:1). If somebody lives in a tent it is because they are traveling and intend to move from place to place and a tent is only a temporary dwelling. It was a good description by Paul for the fact that we are only pilgrims in this world, on a journey to God.

Because we are but travelers, only pilgrims on our journey through life, knowing that our final destiny is with God, we keep our sight always fixed not just on the appearance of this life, but on the fact that we were created by God, that we cannot be truly happy unless we live as God wishes us to live, and of course God wants only what is good for us, we keep our eyes fixed on the fact that our destiny is eternal life and not just death.

Helena’s death is not the end. The Preface states “Lord, for your faithful people, life is changed, not ended”. Helena’s life is changed, not ended. We can still be close to her and she is close to us still, “life is changed not ended”. We can be close to Helena by praying for her and she will be close to us by praying for us. The church is in three states really, the saints in heaven, the souls in purgatory being purified before entering heaven, and we the living here on earth. We believe that we are all united, we the living, the souls in purgatory and the saints in heaven, all united around Jesus’ cross and resurrection. This is the communion of saints that we profess our faith in in the Apostles creed.

I believe in the Holy Spirit
the holy Catholic Church
the communion of saints
the forgiveness of sins
the resurrection of the body
and life everlasting.

The living and the dead are united with each other praying for one another. This is the communion of saints that we profess we believe in during the the Apostle’s Creed. I believe in the communion of saints. Believing in the communion of saints, believing that life is changed not ended, we pray for Helena during this Mass.

Praying for the Dead

We have gathered here not so much to talk about N. but to pray for him. We believe that our prayer here can help Dermot where he is now. We know that prayer is powerful and we believe that we can help the departed by praying for them. The best gift you can now give to Dermot is to pray for him. There is no better gift you can now give Dermot. There is nothing that you could now do that would be more helpful and beneficial to him than praying for him. When we lay a wreath in someone’s honor the flowers will wither but the prayers we offer for someone will never wither. If you say just one “Hail Mary” for N. it will last into eternity. Prayer has lasting value.

That reminds me of many things we do during life. We do many things during life that in a sense, in the light of eternity, are a waste of time. What really matters in life is putting God first. Jesus said in our Gospel that he is the Way, the Truth and the Life and if we are not living our lives in union with Jesus then we are not on the way and if we are not on the way we are lost. On one occasion Jesus said, “Seek the kingdom of God first and all these other things will be given you as well.” When we do that, when we seek the kingdom of God first, love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves, then we are on the way, and not wasting our time.

As we pray for N. during this Mass it is good remember that the Mass is the greatest prayer for the dead. St. Malachy didn’t get on with his sister, lost contact with her and didn’t see her any more before she died. After she died, he heard a voice one night telling him that his sister was hungry, she hadn’t eaten for thirty days. He remembered it was thirty days since he had offered Mass for her. He began to offer Mass for her again, saw her coming up to the door of the church, but she couldn’t enter and was wearing a black garment. He continued to say Mass for her and the next time she was dressed in a lighter garment and the final time he saw her she was dressed entirely in white surrounded by blessed spirits. This incident in the life of St. Malachy shows us the importance of praying for the dead. (above story taken from Healing the Greatest Hurt pages 54-55 by Matthew and Denis Linn and Sheila Fabricant, published 1985 by Paulist Press and used by permission of the publishers.)

Today being Good Friday our thoughts turn to Jesus’ death. As we heard in our first reading (Heb 10,11-18), before the time of Jesus, animals were sacrificed to God regularly by the Old Testament priests. Instead Jesus offered himself to the Father on our behalf. Jesus’ death was the perfect sacrifice that takes our sins away. The evangelists tell us it was the sixth hour when Jesus died, this would have been about 3pm in today’s time. At that time in the Temple in Jerusalem a lamb would have been slaughtered and trumpets would have sounded calling people to worship. At that very time Jesus, the Lamb of God, died. In every Mass we remember Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away our sins. In every Mass Molly shared in the salvation Jesus won for all of us.

It is said that we don’t get to know a person until we’ve eaten a peck of salt together. That’s a lot of salt, therefore a lot of eating together, so the saying means it takes a long time to get to know a person. Its true, isn’t it. If it takes a long time to get to know a person, what about getting to know God. Obviously much more time is required, in fact an eternity. N now has eternity to get to know God better. We get to know God a bit better through other people and knowing N we must admit that God has a sense of humor. You will miss him, but you know he is in good hands.

They say you cannot judge the book by the cover. Also with Jesus you could not judge the book by the cover. He was human, just as human as you and I. He had feelings just like you and I, joy, sorrow, anger, pity. But Jesus was also God, and although he had a human body like yours and mine that is subject to death and decay, he would rise from the dead on Easter Sunday morning. Peter, James and John got a foretaste of Jesus’ resurrection when they saw him transfigured on the mountain. The Transfiguration was a preview of the glory of the resurrection. Although Jesus was human, you could not judge the book by the cover, although he would be crucified, he would rise from the dead.

And it is the same with all of us. You cannot judge the book by the cover. Here we are living on earth, but we are all sons and daughters of God since our baptism and therefore the destiny of each of us is the resurrection. Sometimes we can be a bit narrow-minded, sometimes we can be a bit pessimistic and negative, but we have great grounds for optimism. The destiny of each of us is the resurrection.

And it is the same with N. You cannot judge the book by the cover. We are sad at her parting, we grieve her passing but we believe that she has gone to God, that she is in a better place, that she is sharing now in Jesus’ resurrection by living a new life. St. Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians puts very well the idea that with death you cannot judge the book by the cover. “We know that when the tent that we live in on earth is folded up, there is a house built by God for us, an everlasting home not made by human hands, in the heavens (2 Cor 5:1).

Another way in which we could say you cannot judge the book by the cover is that death is our birthday. In the early church the day on which one died was regarded as one’s birthday, because on that day one is born into eternal life with God. This lingers on in our church because we celebrate a saint’s feastday not on the day of his/her birth but on the day he/she died.

Because we are but travelers, only pilgrims on our journey through life, knowing that our final destiny is with God, we keep our sight always fixed not just on the appearance of this life, but on the fact that we were created by God, that we cannot be truly happy unless we live as God wishes us to live, that our destiny is eternal life and not just death. The words of Jesus in the Gospel mean so much to us in the case of a sudden death like Jerry’s “Be like men waiting for their master to return from the wedding feast, ready to open the door as soon as he comes and knocks. Happy those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. It may be in the second watch he comes, or in the third, but happy those servants if he finds them ready. You too must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect”. These words express the hope of all of us, to be ready to meet the Lord when he calls us. We are but pilgrims on the journey through life, everything in this life fades into insignificance when we look on life from this perspective, a pilgrim waiting to meet the Lord. Fellow pilgrims with Jerry waiting to meet the Lord when he calls us, we pray for him during this Eucharist that he may meet the Son of Man.

As we pray for Kitty, it is only natural to wonder where exactly is she now. It is interesting that with all of our knowledge about everything, and our knowledge increasing every day, we still know very little about the next life. Although we know very little, we believe with certainty three options await us, heaven, hell or purgatory. The church has never said that anybody went to hell, not even Judas or Hitler. But the church has declared that many people are in heaven, and that we can pray to these to help us on our journey through life. We hope to go to Purgatory for a time after death to be purified because very few of us would be so perfect that we could enter heaven immediately. We believe that “the church is not a club for saints but a hospital for sinners” (I have seen this quotation attributed to a number of authors so I am unsure who is the author; I have also been told it is inscribed over a church door in the west of Ireland), and in a similar way we believe that Purgatory is a place where we are healed of all that is hurting us. The nicest description of Purgatory that I have met is ‘Purgatory is a hospital where we learn how to love and forgive.’

Our second reading (1 Cor 13) concluded beautifully by reminding us that there are three things that last, faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is love. So all the love that Kit showed her family will last into eternity and is seen by God. Those who have had near death experiences tell us that they saw all their life flashing before them. So we can say that when God called Kit she could see all her love flashing before her, all the love she gave to her family, every sacrifice she made for them. Three things last, faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is love. Paul also tells us that faith also lasts into eternity. So every prayer of Kit lasts into eternity. Every time she said a Hail Mary, that Hail Mary lasts into eternity. She prayed the Rosary every night, that Rosary each night endures into eternity. Think of the amount of time that we could waste doing all sorts of things that will not last into eternity, like watching TV. But every time we pray, that prayer lasts into eternity. Three things last, faith, hope and love. Kit hoped in the resurrection, hoped in being transformed as our second reading said, “Now we are seeing a dim reflection in a mirror; but then we shall be seeing face to face. The knowledge that I have now is imperfect; but then I shall know as fully as I am known.” Three things last, faith, hope and love. Kit’s faith, hope and love lasts into eternity.

Suicide (an excerpt)

We are saddened and shocked at the death of N. and the way in which she died. We offer our sympathy to NN. and all her relations and friends. She did not have peace in this world and we pray that she may now find peace. St Augustine wrote,

“You have made us for Yourself, O Lord,
and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”

We will never have total happiness or peace in this world because the peace and happiness and fulfillment we long for can be found only in God. Some people make the mistake of resorting to the things of this world to find that happiness but they will never be happy if they do not look for that happiness in God. Again the words of Augustine,

“You have made us for Yourself, O Lord,
and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”

Our Psalm today (Ps 63) expresses those beautiful sentiments so well.

“O God you are my God, for you I long;
For you my soul is thirsting.
My body pines for you
Like a dry weary land without water.”

(Listen to my meditation on Psalm 63 from a recording now no longer available mp3)

Our soul is thirsting for God. Just as a desert is parched for water and crying out for water, even so our soul is longing for God. We ask God to fill N. now with his peace and healing. You remember this longing for God in a another very beautiful Psalm,

“Like the deer that yearns for running streams
even so my soul is yearning for you my God.”

We pray that the words of Job in our first reading (Job 19:1,23-27) may be fulfilled for N. now,

After my awaking, God will set me close to him,
And from my flesh I shall look on God.

We often hear of the patience of Job. But if you read the Book of Job you will notice that it is only at the beginning and end of the book that Job is patient. Job had a very heavy cross to carry, he lost everything precious to him and then he became sick. To make matters worse his friends tried to comfort him but they did not understand his situation and the words they spoke to him only made matters worse for him. Because of his severe suffering he went through different phases in his relationship with God, e.g. he was angry with God. Job shows us that when we suffer it is natural to question. Through questioning we edge slowly, just slowly closer to the truth. While Job’s friends were not a good help to him as he carried his cross, in the New Testament one person stands out who was a good help in carrying a cross. I am thinking of Simon of Cyrene. He helped Jesus to carry his cross. In fact, because Jesus had already suffered so much during his flogging and from the falls under the weight of the cross on the way to Calvary, Jesus might have died before he ever reached Calvary were it not for the help of Simon. If Jesus were to die on the cross to save us, he needed Simon to help him carry his cross. It is a reminder and challenge to us that for those who carry heavy crosses they need a Simon to help them carry their cross if they are to survive. And the heavier the cross the bigger and better and more compassionate and understanding and caring Simon has to be helping carry that cross.

In our Gospel (Matt 11:28-30) Jesus made a beautiful promise,

“Come to me all you who labor and are overburdened and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.”

Notice that Jesus didn’t say to find the easy way out or the easiest option, he said to shoulder the yoke but that as we shoulder our yoke we will find rest in him. And that reminds us of N. finding some element of rest in Jesus as she….

How blessed we are to have faith in God, belief in the resurrection and faith in eternal life. There was not always belief in the resurrection of the dead. Do you remember the passage in the Gospels (Matt 22:23-33; Mark 12:18-28; Luke 20:27-40) where Jesus and the Sadducees argued over the resurrection of the dead? Some Sadducees came to Jesus and asked him a question about a man dying and his brothers in turn marrying the widow and each of them dying also. Jesus assured them that although marriage is only for this life, there is a resurrection and that people are like angels at the resurrection. How come some Jews at the time of Jesus, the Sadducees, did not believe in the resurrection? It was only about 200 years before Jesus that the belief in the resurrection of the dead became part of the Jewish beliefs and so even by the time of Jesus not all Jews believed in the resurrection. Before that time if they didn’t believe one rose from the dead what did they think happened to you when you died? They believed you went to the underworld, Sheol also sometimes called Hades in other literature, and that was a sad place where you were cut off from God. That’s why the choice of readings from the Old Testament for Funeral Masses is rather small. When you think about that, aren’t we truly blessed to be living in the time in which are living, blessed with faith in the resurrection? I can’t really imagine how dreary it must have been for Jews living earlier than 200 years before Jesus. There wasn’t much really to look forward to. So think about the great people like Abraham, Moses, David and so many others, after all they did for God what was awaiting them? Not very much. Their faith must have been so much stronger than ours.

Those who have had near death experiences all say that their deceased relatives were welcoming them to the other side. They also say they experienced a being of outstanding love, welcoming them, whom they understood to be God. We pray that the love of God may welcome Kitty to the next life. It is only natural that those who have had near death or out of body experiences say that they experienced a loving God because that is the picture of God that we read in the Gospels. We read in Mark about the encounter between Jesus and the rich young man. Jesus looked steadily at him and he was filled with love for him (Mark 10:21). In John’s Gospel we read that Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus (John 11:15). And on two other occasions in the Gospel we are told that Jesus loved Lazarus (John 11:3,36). We also read in John’s Gospel that Jesus had a special friendship with his disciple John (John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7,20). Several times in John he is called the disciple Jesus loved, or the beloved disciple. We see Jesus’ love for sinners by eating with them. His love for sinners stands out on one occasion when Jesus allowed a sinner woman to wash his feet with her tears and dry them with her hair and then anoint them with ointment (Luke 7:36-50). We see Jesus love for the sick, e.g. lepers, whom people were not supposed to touch in case they picked up the disease, but Jesus laid his hands on them while he was healing them (Luke 5:12-14). With so many examples of the love of Jesus for others in the Gospels, we can imagine a loving Jesus meeting Kitty and welcoming her. We pray that the love of Jesus may heal Kitty of any hurts and wounds and that she may be transformed by the love of Jesus which we pray she is now meeting in a new way that we could never begin to imagine.

We are conscious of the presence of a swallow in the church. One of the verses of our Psalm (Ps 84) for Mass today was

The sparrow herself finds a home
And the swallow a nest for her brood;
She lays her young by your altars,
Lord of hosts, my king and my God.

The whole Psalm is about our longing for God.

My soul is longing and yearning
Is yearning for the dwelling of the Lord…

One day within your dwelling
Is better than a thousand elsewhere.

This longing for God is a longing in the heart of all of us. We are created by God and will not be fully happy until we are at peace with God in heaven. Any happiness we have here on earth is really a very small foretaste of the joy of being with God in heaven. As our second reading stated.

“My dear people we are already the children of God but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed; all we know is that when it is revealed we shall be like him because we shall see him as he really is.”

People of faith, like Nora, would know this instinctively. But someone without faith might try to satisfy this longing for God in so many ways that will never really satisfy or bring lasting peace or happiness or fulfillment or satisfaction. If you watch soaps on TV you see that there is always someone in some trouble or getting into some sort of a scrape. So much of that trouble in those TV soaps could have been avoided by living a life of faith, by knowing from one’s faith that nothing will fully satisfy us, only God, and that it is a mistake to think that we can achieve that perfect utopia here on earth. St. Augustine said, ‘You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.’ As the Psalm said,

One day within your dwelling
Is better than a thousand elsewhere.
The threshold of the house of God
I prefer to the dwellings of the wicked.

Living with God, walking with God, living the life of faith, is the way to peace. Again the Psalm said

My heart and my soul ring out their joy
To God the living God.

Being in God’s dwelling is so good that even the swallows spend time here. During this Mass we are praying for Nora and entrusting her to God’s mercy and love. As we do so, once again the Psalm reassures us that God will be good to those who have been good.

The Lord will not refuse any good
To those who walk without blame.
Lord, God of hosts,
Happy are those who trust in you.

In the heart of all of us there is a longing for God. If we don’t pray we will not understand that this longing in our heart is for God and instead of trying to satisfy this longing with God we might try to satisfy it with all sorts of other things instead, like drugs, alcohol, money. Thanks be to God Molly was able to recognize God as the satisfaction of her heart. Our Psalm today (Ps 63) expresses it beautifully:

O God you are my God, for you I long;
for you my soul is thirsting.
My body pines for you
like a dry weary land without water.
So I gaze on you in the sanctuary
to see your strength and your glory.

(Listen to my meditation on Psalm 63 from a recording now no longer available mp3)

We take Jesus at his word and trust that he will take Joe to a room in the Father’s house. God is all merciful, God is the Father of mercies: God does not make a judgment of us based on only one part of our life, God makes a judgment of us based on all of our life. Joe lived a good life, always wanting the best for his family. God will see that good nature in Joe and reward him for it. His death breaks our hearts, but we trust in God and leave him now in God’s hands.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph I give you my heart and my soul,
Jesus Mary and Joseph assist me in my last agony,
Jesus, Mary and Joseph may I breathe forth my soul in peace with you.
Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.
Lord Jesus, receive my soul. Amen.

We have heard our first reading about the souls of the virtuous so often and yet Sacred Scripture contains something new for us every time we read it. That reading calms any fears about death in those who trust in God. It says the souls of the virtuous are in the hands of God. What better place could we go to after death than into the hands of God? What a beautiful way to describe God’s care for us. Do you remember when you were small and your parents took you up in their arms? You were in the arms of your parents. When we die God takes us up in his hands. We are in the hands of God. Can you imagine God taking people into his hands as they die? We believe that God has taken Mary up into his hands.

To someone without faith, as the reading says, they did appear to die, but that is not the case at all. Someone with faith can say as the reading says, “they are in peace.” They merely appeared to die, their going was like a disaster, their leaving us was like an annihilation. In other words, they did not die, they only appeared to die, their leaving us was not a disaster or annihilation, it only seemed that way.

The passage ends beautifully, expressing the faith of someone who believes in God’s goodness and therefore is not afraid to die.

They who trust in him will understand the truth,
Those who are faithful will live with him in love;
For grace and mercy await those he has chosen.

They will understand the truth, the truth that when we die we are in the hands of God, in the hands of God who cares for us and so we do not need to be afraid.. Those who trust in him will understand the truth. Those who are faithful will live with him in love. When we die we go to God’s love. There is no need to be afraid if we do not and have not rejected God’s offer of love. Who is ever afraid of love? Love attracts us, heals us, helps us, gives us energy for life, helps us to grow, develop and mature. Those who are faithful will live with God in love. The final line of the reading gives another reason for not fearing death, “grace and mercy await those he has chosen.” It is grace and mercy we will receive from God, anything else that we will receive in the next life is of our own making, not God’s, and we have time to repent and reform before death.. It is grace and mercy God wants to give us.

All together, it is a most beautiful reading. When we die we are taken up by God in his hands. Can you imagine God taking people up? Those who trust in God will understand the truth that people only appear to die, their leaving us only seems like a disaster or annihilation. We can look forward to God’s love, grace and mercy after death. Anything else is of our own making and we have time to repent and reform before death.

So we ask God to take Mary up in his arms, to pour his love, grace and mercy upon her.

The great thing about your love for Marty is that it does not come to an end with death, love continues beyond death. St. Bernard of Clairvaux said “I can never lose one whom I have loved unto the end; one to whom my soul cleaves so firmly that it can never be separated does not go away but only goes before.”

Joe’s death is a tragedy. For you his family its like being left in the dark during a powercut. You feel lost. When the power goes out we search for something to give us light, a candle for example, even a small candle will do. A candle to give you light at this time is Jesus. Turn to Jesus; he will be the candle that will give some bit of light in the darkness of your lives at this time. You should have no doubt but that God is with you in the pain and grief you are suffering. Again and again the Bible tells us that God is close to those who are suffering: “The Lord is close to the broken-hearted”. “Blessed are those who mourn, they shall be comforted”. It is natural to feel angry with God at a time like this. Have no fear in telling God exactly how you feel. There’s no point in praying to God with a mask on and feeling something different beneath. Don’t be afraid to share your grief with others. Talk and talk and talk. A trouble shared is half trouble. If we are a Christian community we should be helping people to carry their crosses. Tragedy brings people together, but sometimes only for a while. I trust and pray that the people of this parish will help you to carry your cross for as long as you need.

Why did God not prevent her death? (Martha and Mary, death of Lazarus)

On this sad day we have no answers to the question “Why could Kitty not be left to her family for longer?” We cannot explain but we do what we can, that is, to offer you our sympathy and support at this time. We also assure you of our prayers. As well as assuring you of our prayers I would also like to assure you of something else, that Kitty’s death is not Jesus’ fault, that God is not to blame for it. But in saying that Kitty’s death is not Jesus’ fault and that God is not to blame for it, does not mean that we cannot question the Lord about it. Indeed we can tell the Lord that we have doubts about his goodness, that we wonder does he really care at all about us, that we feel so let down by him. Whenever we feel like that we have to say it to the Lord. We can share all our sorrow and disappointments with the Lord, as well as our joys. Whenever a tragedy strikes it really tests our faith. But stick close to the Lord. Do not abandon the Lord, he has not and will not abandon you.

Martha and Mary really felt abandoned by the Lord when he did not come for four days after Lazarus died. Some of the onlookers said, “He opened the eyes of the blind man, could he not have prevented this man’s death?” It is no wonder that Martha and Mary were both cross with Jesus. Mary said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Before Mary, Martha had come out to meet him and she also said to him, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died, but I know that, even now, whatever you ask of God, he will grant you.” Because John was writing a Gospel he was careful about what he wrote but we can imagine other things that Mary and Martha might have said to Jesus. “Jesus, you have let us down. Are you really a good person at all? We have serious doubts about you. When we most needed you, you were absent. But when you needed us you were here all right. Whenever you needed accommodation for your pilgrimages to Jerusalem you always lodged with us because we are only two miles from Jerusalem. And who did your laundry for you then? We did. We always made sure to have the best wine in Bethany when you were visiting. Do you know how much meat we cooked for you?” Martha and Mary had good reason to be cross with Jesus. How did Jesus react? This is what we read. “At the sight of her tears, and those of the Jews who followed her, Jesus said in great distress, with a sigh that came straight from the heart, ‘Where have you put him?’” When Jesus saw the women’s tears he was distressed and he sighed. And when Jesus saw Lazarus’ tomb how did he react? “He wept.” When we are in pain, is there a sense in which we can say that God is also in pain? Our tears are God’s tears also. God does not abandon us in our time of suffering. God suffers with us. So it is good to turn to the Lord as Martha and Mary did and say, “Lord, you have let us down.” Then the Lord cries with us. It gives us strength to know that Lord cries with us, that he shares our pain.

To assure Martha and Mary that he really did care, Jesus asked his Father to raise Lazarus. Now their doubts were healed and vanished. As Jesus prayed to the Father he made his request,

“for the sake of all these who stand round me,
so that they may believe that it was you who sent me.” (John 11:42)

So we could say it was for our sake, for your sake, that Jesus raised Lazarus so that in our times of trouble and grief we will not lose faith in Jesus. Jesus has not abandoned you in your time of grief. He is here and cries with you. Turn to him and ask his help. Ask him to heal you of the great hurt you have suffered.

Paddy’s death is not the end. We can still be united with him. We are gathered here around the table of the Eucharist, around Jesus, and Paddy too is gathered around the Lord. He is now closer to the Lord, enjoying a closer union with the Lord which we also hope to share more fully. We are already beginning to share more fully in that future eternal union around the Lord by celebrating the Eucharist here. In that sense we are still united with Paddy. We are still united with him, but united with him in a new, deeper, more spiritual sense. We are united with him around the Lord, which is indeed the best way to be united with him. There is no better union with anyone than being united with someone around the Lord. Those who are happiest together are those who are united around the Lord. In this Mass, and in every Mass, we, the living, are united with the dead around the Lord. We, living in the present, are united with those who have attained what we hope for. We are all, living and dead, united around Jesus’ cross and resurrection.

Why did Nora have to suffer so much in the past few weeks. This is a question which we could ask not only about Nora but also about several others who suffer a lot before they die. This is a question we will be able to answer only in eternity but it is a question several have made attempts at answering. We believe that Jesus by his suffering and death has redeemed us, has saved us. Because we have been saved by Jesus’ suffering we look on all suffering in the context of his suffering. When Jesus died on the cross, God bent down to earth to show how much he loved us. God who is almighty and all-powerful became, in a sense became all weakness, all-suffering. Jesus too has been through it, but was not conquered or defeated by his suffering, he rose again three days afterwards. Therefore, even in the midst of terrible sufferings, even if there is no hope in this life, we are always full of hope for the glory of the next life. By looking at our suffering in the light of Jesus’ suffering and rising, we believe that there is more to the human body than meets the eye, that we will be glorified no matter what we suffer.

In his suffering Jesus took the burden of our sins upon himself. As we heard in our first reading; “by his sufferings shall my servant justify many, taking their faults on himself” (Isa 53:4). Jesus redeemed us, and redeemed our suffering through his suffering. But we heard Paul say in our second reading (Col 1:24) that he through his suffering was making up for all that still has to be undergone by Christ for the sake of his body, the Church. Paul saw that through his own suffering he had to complete the salvation and redemption which Jesus brought us. What Paul said about his own suffering could be said about the suffering of N and of all who suffer a lot, their suffering makes up for all that still has to be undergone by Christ for the sake of the Church. So now the prophecy of Isaiah in our first reading about Jesus’ suffering, could describe the suffering of Paul and the suffering of all who unite their suffering to that of Jesus

On him lies a punishment that brings us peace,
and through his wounds we are healed.
By his sufferings shall my servant justify many,
taking their faults on himself.

All our suffering now takes on a new light, not only did Jesus take it all on himself, but if we unite our suffering to Jesus we help bring about the salvation of the world. Suffering is not meaningless any more, if we unite it to Jesus’ suffering it can do a power of good. N suffered a lot before she died. Being a woman of great faith, I’m sure she united it to Jesus’ suffering and so has played a part in saving us all.

What a great gift our faith is. How blessed a person is to have a strong faith. How blessed Teresa was to have had a strong faith. It was because of her strong faith that she bore her suffering with dignity. The first reading of Mass today (Lam 3:17-26) is particularly suitable for Teresa. We can see that the writer is suffering a lot because of the people of Jerusalem being exiled from their own country over to Babylon. But despite his suffering he still hopes in God, he still trusts in God. We could say the same thing about Teresa. In her suffering she still hoped and trusted in God, she did not give up. The words of the suffering writer in our first reading could very well be the words of Teresa herself as she suffered;

the favours of the Lord are not all past,
his kindnesses are not exhausted.
‘My portion is the Lord’ says my soul
‘and so I will hope in him’.
The Lord is good to those who trust him,
to the soul that searches for him.

Our readings from Scripture give us great consolation. In our first reading we were told the Lord will wipe away tears from every cheek (Isa 25:6-9). Then people will say, “This is our God in whom we hoped for salvation; the Lord is the one in whom we hoped.” That line from Scripture describes us also. We hope in the Lord for salvation. We know that nothing or nobody in this life can save us. We know that we cannot take even £1 to heaven. We know that everything we do makes sense only if it is leading us to peace with God. We know that there are many distractions and temptations in life all pretending to offer us peace and happiness but none of them do because we know that we will find this peace and happiness only in God. When we find our peace in God, when we become friends of God, when we live with God’s love in our hearts, then we have peace. That is why our first reading said the Lord will wipe away the tears from every cheek. Why, because, as the reading states, “this is our God in whom we hoped for salvation, the Lord is the one in whom we hoped.” When we hope in the Lord for salvation how blessed we are. We will still have problems, but the Lord is there is to wipe away the tears from our eyes when we hope in him and have his love in our hearts.

Sometimes people ask me the question, “What happens to us when we die?” Some people are afraid of dying, worried about what will lie ahead of them, afraid of seeing all their life’s sins and finding it too much to cope with. In our reading today (Rom 8:31-39) we find an answer to those worries. Yes there is a judgment. The question is asked in the reading, “Could anyone accuse those that God has chosen?” But the great thing is that the odds are on our side. That is why the reading says that Jesus stands at God’s right hand and pleads for us. Yes there is a judgment and our sins are the evidence against us but Jesus is representing our cause. We can imagine Jesus saying something like this to the Father, “Father, this is Dan. I died for him. Yes, like every human he did sin, but I am pleading for him now. I am asking you to disregard those sins because I died for him. Instead of looking on his sins I am asking you Father to look on me, your Son, dying on the cross for Dan and for everyone. I have paid the price that had to be paid for his sins.” We could have no better lawyer to represent us before God our Father than his Son Jesus who died for us. At the end, the reading gives a list of things that will not come between us and the love of God and it says neither life not death will come between us and the love of God. If people are worried about seeing all their sins the well-known Dublin priest, Fr Jack McArdle tells this story.  He says when we die will see all our lives like on a videotape. We will see the good things we did. But we will also see blanks on the videotape. What are those blanks? They are the sins that we received forgiveness for in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. When we confess our sins they are gone.

The reading asks another question, “Could anyone accuse those that God has chosen?” So we are God’s chosen. We don’t think about that often enough. Imagine the difference it would make to the lives of each of us if it could really sink into our hearts that God has chosen us, that we are precious to God. I am convinced that many of us would live very differently if we really knew in our hearts, as that reading says, that we are chosen by God, that God has destined so much for us. That brings me back again to the people who are afraid of dying. When we consider that we are chosen by God and precious to God, then death is going home to our loving Father. No wonder that John in his first letter writes, “In love there can be no fear, but fear is driven out by perfect love.” (1 John 4:18) When we know that death is our loving Father calling us, who has chosen us from all eternity, therefore there is no room for fear, fear is driven out.

The tall white candle, the Paschal Candle, stands beside the coffin at every Mass. We call it the Paschal Candle because we light it firstly at Easter and there are five grains of incense inserted in it symbolizing the five wounds of Jesus, the two wounds in his hands, the two in his legs and the wound in his side. It is very symbolic that this candle stands beside the coffin during every funeral Mass. It is almost as if Jesus is standing beside the coffin looking up his Father and pleading on behalf of David, saying, ‘Look, I bore these wounds in my body for the salvation of David. I suffered, I died, I rose again for him. Forgive him Father and take him to Paradise. The beginning of our second reading is worth thinking of again. Paul wrote, ‘We know that he who raised the Lord Jesus to life will raise us with Jesus in our turn, and put us by his side and you with us.’

Also in the Paschal Candle above the five grains of incense there is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, Alpha, and below the five grains of incense there is the last letter, Omega. In other words, Jesus is the beginning and end of all that we do and say. If it were not for Jesus suffering those five wounds, dying and rising, life would not have meaning. But Jesus was the beginning and end of David’s life and is the beginning and end of all our lives. It is he who gives meaning to our lives, especially in times of suffering.

Passing his life farming meant that David was close to nature. There is a saying that when one is close to nature one is close to God. Seeing the swallows flying around happily in the sun this past week with their happy chirping would certainly raise one’s mind to the Creator who created them. I have said to you previously that it is easier to find God in the country than in the city. There are less distractions in the country. It would certainly be easier to find God in the country than if you were living by the main Cork-Dublin road with 20,000 vehicles passing you by every day, 6000 of them large trucks. As we think about David’s life with his family and being close to nature, I cannot but help thinking that this was something he had in common with Jesus because Jesus too was close to nature. Just think of all the times that Jesus used nature in his teaching. As a hen gathers her chicks under her wings so did Jesus wish to gather his people. When he sent out his disciples he said they were like sheep in the midst of wolves. They were to be as innocent as doves but cunning as serpents. Think of the flowers growing in the fields, they neither sow nor reap yet I assure you that not even Solomon in all his royal robes was clothed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the wild flowers growing in the fields will he not much more look after you? Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they are? Jesus didn’t use a motor car to get around but a donkey or perhaps a camel. He said if your donkey fell into the well on the Sabbath would you not pull it out. As well as all of this Jesus also mentioned many different kinds of plants when he was talking. David and Jesus shared a common knowledge and love of nature.

Its a cruel world. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus also thought it was a cruel world. Their hopes and dreams were also shattered. Remember what they said “Our hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel free”. They had hopes in Jesus, but his death finished their hopes so now they were leaving Jerusalem, with hopes and plans shattered. We come to this Eucharist to meet Jesus. In this Eucharist we pray for Marty and we hope to get strength to struggle on with life. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus also met Jesus in the Eucharist and this gave them strength to continue. At the time they did not recognize that their hearts were on fire when they were with Jesus. It was only afterwards when they looked back that they realized this. Our hearts too will burn within us in this Eucharist as we meet Jesus even though, like the two disciples, we will not recognize it. But we ask Jesus to touch us during this Eucharist and give us the grace to carry this cross. Then the two disciples returned to Jerusalem and spoke to their companions. They shared with them about what happened. You too like the two disciples are sharing your grief and it is good to share your grief with others. And if you ever notice you are angry with God don’t be afraid to share that either. As a Christian community I know we will help you to carry your cross.

Caring for the Sick and Elderly Shows us the Love of Christ

I noticed the sacrifices you made to look after her during these past months, and more so during the recent weeks. Every time I see relatives caring so well for their elderly or sick mother or father, or mother-in-law or father-in-law, I say to myself, that is where the love of Christ is. It reminds me of the words of Jesus in our Gospel, “In so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.” It also reminds me of the words of the king in that same Gospel parable, “Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink.” Sacrificing ourselves for others is being a disciple of Jesus. Giving of ourselves for the sake of others shows that we are followers of Jesus. That is also what Jesus did for each of us, he gave of himself. Remember his words which we hear during every Mass, “This is my body which will be given up for you.” It is the total opposite to attitudes like, “I only care about myself. It is my body and I have a right to choose.” Jesus’ attitude and the attitude of his followers is, “This is my body which will be given up for you.” Those who care for the sick put that into practice. Every time I see people caring for their elderly or sick relatives I say to myself, “That is where the love of Christ is.”

Our second reading concluded in this way (2 Cor 5:1), ‘For we know that when the tent that we live in on earth is folded up there is a house built by God for us, an everlasting home not made by human hands, in the heavens.’ I would to conclude now by turning that into a prayer for David. ‘Father in heaven, the tent that David lived in while on earth is folded up but we believe that you have built a house for him in the heavens, an everlasting home not made by human hands. We ask you to forgive him and take him to be with your Son Jesus in Paradise.’

I will conclude by using a prayer of St Peter Damian for Josie: “Lord, set the seal of your holy cross upon her soul and cleanse her by its power. By its merits, claim her wholly and entirely for yourself. When you come to judge the world, may its imprint be found upon her. Thus, likened to her Crucified Lord in his sufferings, may she be found worthy to share his glorious resurrection.”

I conclude with this prayer for N in this way:

May Christ who was crucified and died for your sake deliver you from eternal death;
may Christ son of the living God set you down in the fresh beauty of his paradise
and may he, the Good Shepherd, claim you as one of his flock;
may he forgive you all your sins
and grant you a place among the saints at his own right hand.
There may you ever behold your Redeemer face to face
and ever stand before him
and, placed in the ranks of the blessed,
may you delight in the vision of God for ever and ever.

Prayer for the One I Miss

Jesus, you wept over the death of Lazarus.
Show me N, my Lazarus, the one who bring most tears to my eyes.
Show me my Bethany, the good times I miss.
Show me how you wept with Martha, Mary, and now with me.

Jesus, your love filled Lazarus with new life.
Show me N, my Lazarus, breathing deeply your risen life.
Show me N, my Lazarus, together with you, breathing your life into me.
Show me how each breath fills the empty places within myself.

Jesus you asked us to unbind Lazarus.
Show me how I can unbind N, my Lazarus, with forgiveness and love as deep as yours.
Show me how I am to let go and love others with this love.
And show me your dream to have us grow closer in your embrace now and forever.

(I found the above prayer in Healing the Greatest Hurt pages 18-19 by Matthew & Denis Linn and Sheila Fabricant published by Paulist Press and used here by permission. I often re-type this prayer and give it to the bereaved inserting the names of their deceased.)


I Feel Your Sorrow

I feel your sorrow,
And appreciate your prayers.
When you are lonely
Know that I am nearby for you.
While I’m no longer on earth, I’m in a new place-
A place too beautiful to describe.
It’s a place of peace, comfort, and love,
A place so warm and wonderful
It defies imagination.
While you are sad now,
You will grow in strength.
You can turn to me in prayer-please do.
You can continue to love me.
I will watch over you-though for now
You will not be able to see or touch me.
You are still on earth
And meant to be there for now.
You will grieve; it isn’t easy.
Death is always sad,
But believe that someday soon we’ll be reunited
To be all that we can be
With God and our loved ones.

Unfortunately I do not know the source of this reflection. If you know would you be so kind as to e-mail me. Thanks!


Do Not Look Forward in Fear

Do not look forward in fear
To the changes of life;
Rather look to them with full
Hope that s they arise
God, whose very own you are,
Will lead you safely through
All things; and when you cannot
Stand it, will carry you
In His arms.

Do not fear what may
Happen tomorrow; the same
Everlasting Father who cared
For you today will take care
Of you then and every day.
He will either shield you
From suffering, or will give you
Unfailing strength to bear it.
Be at peace and put aside
All anxious thought and

by St. Francis de Sales. I found it in Healing: Questions and Answers for Those Who Mourn by Rev. Terence P. Curley (page xv)

Death is Only a Horizon

We give them back to you, O Lord
who first gave them to us;
as as you did not lose them in the giving,
so we do not lose them in the return.

Not as the world gives do you give,
O Lover of souls.
For what is yours is ours also,
if we belong to you.

Life is unending because love is undying,
and the boundaries of this life are but a horizon,
and a horizon is but the limit of our vision.

Life us up, strong Son of god,
that we may see further.
Strengthen our faith that we may see beyond the horizon.

And while you prepare a place for us,
as you have promised,
prepare us also for that happy place;
that where you are we may be also,
with those we have loved, forever.

Bede Jarrett O.P.

Gone Only from Sight

I am standing on the seashore. Suddenly a ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze, and starts out for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength, and I stand and watch her until at length she is only a ribbon of white cloud just above where sea and sky mingle with each other . Then someone at my side says, ‘There! She’s gone!’ Gone where? Gone from my sight – that is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side, and just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her , and just at the moment when someone at my side says, ‘There! She’s gone!’ there are other voices ready to take the glad shout, ‘There! She comes!’ And that is dying.

(edited version of a poem by Henry Van Dyke)

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