Many years ago I was the Parish Priest of St Michael the Archangel, Abertillery. I remember the local undertaker telling me that he could tell very quickly if the bereaved family were ‘church’ or ‘unchurch’. Yes, grief was very evident , but he noticed that those connected to the church did not exhibit the ‘hopeless’ grief of the unchurched.
His words came back to me recently, maybe because we have suffered many bereavements in our parish over the last few months – dear people who have loved God and His church in this place over the years: may they rest in His sanctifying peace.
Fr Jeremy suffered so gracefully over many months with the affliction of motor neurone disease. He was so ‘at home’ at the altars of our churches in St Mary’s and St Eigon’s. He regularly received his Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Never once in those many visits did he utter a single sentence of pity. His trust in God was an inspiration. I feel that the greatest sermon he ever ‘preached’ was wordless – a dying bed sufficed.
Michael Twigge-Molecey, a faithful churchman, worshipped at St Mary’s over many decades. He was very much a ‘Hay’ man as the hundreds at his requiem mass testified. I anointed him after the 11.00am Parish Mass some Sundays back. We shall miss his fine bass voice in the choir at the Parish Mass. I suspect that voice will be heard among the angelic choir by the Christ he loved so faithfully on earth.
I came across a wonderful early English prayer recently, a prayer we should take to heart and pray, ourselves: God grant that my last hour may be my best hour.
St Francis of Assisi, in his Canticle of the Creatures, sums up all I have been trying to say –
‘And thou, most kind and gentle death
Waiting to hush our latest breath
O praise Him, Alleluia!
Thou leadest home the child of God
And Christ our Lord the way hath trod’
With love and prayers, Father Richard