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Father Muench Says...

‘Imitate our Lord’s mercy’

Nov. 9, 2022

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

November is that month each year that is set aside for special prayer and Masses for the faithful departed – our deceased loved ones who have gone to the Lord and left an emptiness in our families. This month of prayer during November begins with All Souls Day, November 2, when parishes remember those who have died during the past year.

We believe in faith in the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus, and we believe that we will one day rise to new life with the Lord. We have great faith that our departed loved ones will always recognize our love and concern for them through our prayers and Masses. In this way, we develop a relationship with those loved ones who have gone on before us.

Today, I would like to share with you something more about our relationship with our deceased loved ones – a responsibility that we should remember especially with those deceased whom we were not on good terms with at the time of their death. So, I would like to start here with this short message from the writings of my favorite saint, Catherine Doherty: “At the door, so to speak, of the communion of saints, someone asks, ‘Have you forgotten all those who hurt you? Have you loved your enemies?’ If the answer is in the affirmative, then the doors open wide… For a saint is simply a person who loves and forgives.”

Today, I stand before you, to admit that I must confess my failings, my own grudges. I have allowed myself to ignore those who I was truly at odds with at the time of their deaths. I do confess that I did hold grudges with some who have gone to the Lord.

I am a disciple of the Lord Jesus. I know how often Jesus taught of the healing power of forgiveness. Jesus challenges me to be a loving and forgiving person. I should know this personally; I have preached the importance of forgiveness often. Yet, I must confess I have not practiced forgiveness, especially with some departed persons. Jesus makes it clear that reaching out to those who have hurt me, forgiveness and reconciliation would bring peace, especially to myself.

You would think I have come to understand this. As a confessor in the Sacrament of Penance I will encourage, encourage strongly, some that they find forgiveness as a way of life. I urge them to discover how our Lord continues to lead us all to pray and bring forgiveness to others, even to those who have gone to the Lord. This reconciliation always leads to peace, even happiness.

The Gospel authors remembered to tell us of Jesus’ loving and forgiving Spirit by telling us so many stories of his actions. I am certain that you remember that Our Lord prayed as he hung in agony on the cross, “Forgive them, Father; they know not what they are doing.”

Also, you know the parables of Jesus as he taught forgiveness – like the Parable of the Prodigal Son and the Parable of the Lost Sheep. Whenever we think of the message of Jesus, the first thing we think of is forgiveness.
So, during November, our Catholic Church calls upon us to remember our beloved dead in a special way. This is a powerful opportunity to remember so many who have transformed our own lives, making us the people that we are called to be. So, today, I want to call to your attention that we must be ready to imitate Our Lord’s mercy and forgiveness, so that we can reach out in those situations where there may have been grudges or where we would have been hurt – a hurt that is not forgotten – and needs to be forgiven.

In our churches, we behold Jesus, nailed to the cross, an image that reminds us of his painful sacrifice that we will truly learn the Lord’s forgiveness of all sins and guilt. If there were no sin Jesus would not have suffered for our redemption. Each time we see a crucifix, we can reflect on the infinite mercy of God – and remember that God calls us to be a people of forgiveness.

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