All Souls Requiem
Sub Dean - Canon Michael Rawson
Earlier this week I heard a beautifully haunting piece of Spanish music sung by the Ex Cathedra singers, entitled ‘Dulce Jesus Mio’ My sweet Jesus, look with mercy on my lost soul
Those words may resonate with you this afternoon as we come to offer this Requiem Eucharist for the souls of our departed loved ones. We may be recently bereaved or still carrying the scars of our loss after many years. In the face of death, we can feel like lost souls, lacking direction, focus and hope.
The words of our first reading from the Book of Lamentations may speak to our situation:
My soul is bereft of peace;
I have forgotten what happiness is;
so I say, ‘Gone is my glory,
and all that I had hoped for from the Lord.
When someone we love dies it can feel like the world has stopped and life can never be the same again. The person who we could go to, who would listen to us and take us seriously, is no longer there. A chapter has closed and the light has gone from our hearts and lives. Life for us has become like the author of the book of Lamentations, ‘wormwood and gall.’ To whom can we now turn?
For people of faith, the bible is rooted and grounded in the often painful reality of our human existence which is as relevant for us today as it was when it was for those who first heard it. And yet this reality is balanced with a promise and hope for the future as our first reading proclaims:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Today we may come carrying a burden of grief and loss with us, and yet we long to hear afresh the hope and invitation of God, outlined in the first letter of Peter:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Jesus, the incarnate Word of God, knows and shares our human condition and himself wept over the grave of his dead friend Lazarus. But as with Lazarus, Mary and Martha he also leads us forward on our journey of life with the promise that, ‘anyone who comes to me I will never drive away.’
When I preach at funerals I often ask the family to look up at the window above the High Altar, depicting the risen Christ, opening his arms wide to welcome home the lost and the weary; the souls of our beloved faithful departed.
Letting go of those whom we love is painful and heart breaking, and yet we place them lovingly in the arms of our Saviour, in the hope and promise that he will enfold them and give them light and rest.
My sweet Jesus, look with mercy on my lost soul
… and give me hope and peace.