Today, Jan. 8, would have been my parent’s 64th wedding anniversary. Pop has been gone for nearly 20 years and Mom died a year and a half ago. Their anniversary – exactly two weeks after Christmas Day – offered one last little diversion before the end of the holidays. As we put away the decorations and settled in to face dreary January and February, we had this event to celebrate.
Although I think of them often and pray for them daily, it is on special days like this that I more acutely feel their loss. Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and special family events always bring into sharper focus the fact that we no longer have Mom and Pop with us.
But, I take great comfort and solace in knowing that while my parents are not physically here with my family and me, they – and all my deceased loved ones – are truly not apart from us. My parents and I are still united – their blood still runs through my veins, they are still part of my history, the faith they taught me is still my faith, and I still pray for them.
Prayer. That is what continues to unite me most closely to my parents.
The Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, said the Church “accepts loyally the venerable faith of our ancestors in the living communion which exists between us and our brothers who are in the glory of heaven.” That means my relationship with my parents is still alive, still real.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (no. 1475) stresses that “a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in purgatory and those who are still pilgrims on earth.”
As I tried my best to honor my parents while they were alive, I strive to continue to honor them with my prayers. St. Gregory said that we should “not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.” St. Ambrose eloquently spoke of our need to pray for the dead: “We have loved them during life,” he once said. “Let us not abandon them in death until we have conducted them by our prayers into the house of the Lord”
When they were alive, I would call them on Jan. 8 to wish them “Happy Anniversary.” Now that they are gone, my wishes for them take a different form: “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord. And let the perpetual light shine upon them. And may the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.”