Forgetting the dead

– It denotes a great insensitivity –

The Bible speaks of a man called Lazarus who was covered in ulcers, dressed in rags and lay on the doorstep of a wealthy man. He asked for very little: the mere crumbs, which fell from the rich man’s table. He was refused even that.

What insensitivity! What hardness of heart! Are we to be surprised then if after the rich man’s death, he went to Hell while Lazarous rose to the bosom of Abraham?

The memory of our deceased parents is present in our mind and our heart. The house we lived in, the name we bore, the wealth we enjoyed, everything reminds us of them. Yet they do not shout, their grave is silent. But the Church, our Mother, teaches us:

Have mercy on the deceased. Allow a few crumbs to fall from your table to appease their hunger, a few drops to quench their thirst. Misguided servant, you must have pity on your brother!

During his lifetime he laboured to feed you, to dress you, to raise you. Now that he asks you for a few crumbs of the inheritance he left you, why do you refuse?

If, like the rich man, we are insensitive to the cries of our distressed brethren, God will be insensitive to ours. How could he welcome us in his bosom?

– It reveals a dark ingratitude –

One of the Pharaoh’s officers was thrown in jail with Joseph. Mild and compassionate, Joseph struck up a friendship with his partner of misfortune, soothed his grief, interpreted his dreams, and assured him of a prompt liberation. The only reward he asked of the officer was to be remembered when called by Pharaoh. Alas! That ungrateful officer, inebriated by his new prosperity, completely forgot his benefactor and Joseph had to languish two more years in chains.

Is that cruel selfishness not revolting? Then how can you forget so many relatives, so many benefactors from whom you received life, whose wealth you inherited and to whom you owe so much? When they were dying and begging you to pray for them, you answered with tears. Yet, time has dried your tears and you have abandoned them. You have for them, no regret, no tenderness, no gratitude. You satiate yourselves, as did Pharaoh’s officer with wealth you have acquired and you let them languish, like Joseph in the prison in Purgatory. Where then is your faith, your conscience, your heart, your memory? Lord, Lord, heal this strange forgetfulness and give our suffering and abandoned brethren rest and eternal glory.

– Example –

Chaganus, having put Maurice’s army to flight, exacted a considerable sum of money from the emperor as a ransom for the many soldiers he held prisoner. Maurice refused. The conqueror reduced his demand, which was again refused. After having reduced to a mere pittance the amount claimed and being yet denied satisfaction, the irritated barbarian had all of the prisoners decapitated. A few days later, Maurice saw a terrible apparition: a multitude of slaves in chains. They cried out in vengeance to him. A sovereign judge appeared amongst them and cried out, You wretch. You must be punished. Do you prefer being punished in this world or the next? The stunned emperor replied, I prefer that it be in this world, Lord! The judge told him, As punishment for your cruelty toward these poor soliders whose lives you could have saved at such little cost, one of them will remove your crown, your reputation, your life and that of your entire family. A few days later, the army revolted and proclaimed Phocas emperor. Maurice tried to escape on a small ship, but in vain. Phocas’ partisans seized him and cast him in chains. That miserable father saw his five sons slain before his very eyes and was shamefully put to death. 

Christian souls who are reading this work, think about it! These are not mere soldiers we are talking about. They are your very children, your brothers and sisters, your parents. They are weeping prisoners of God’s Divine Justice. Our merciful God asks us to ransom them with prayer, Holy Communion, charity. Would you be hard-hearted and insensitive enough to refuse?

Let Us Pray

Lord how could I refuse those souls that were bonded to mine through friendship and kinship? How could I abandon to cruel suffering those loved ones who gave me so much love, devotion and affection during their lifetime? Every day of my life and to my dying breath, I will pray for them. Oh Jesus, be their Conciliator. Call your children and our brethren to your holy City! May they rest in eternal peace!

Let Us Pray

Lord, hear the prayers we will offer up to you every day of this month for the consolation of our deceased brothers and sisters and grant them a place of refreshing light and peace! Hear also the prayers which those souls will offer up to you for our intention that we might ultimately obtain, through their intercession, the graces for which we pray for.