32 But as for that day or hour, nobody knows it, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son; no one but the Father.
33 'Be on your guard, stay awake, because you never know when the time will come.
34 It is like a man travelling abroad: he has gone from his home, and left his servants in charge, each with his own work to do; and he has told the doorkeeper to stay awake.
35 So stay awake, because you do not know when the master of the house is coming, evening, midnight, cockcrow or dawn;
36 if he comes unexpectedly, he must not find you asleep.
37 And what I am saying to you I say to all: Stay awake! [Mark 13]
Why is it that we have moments in our lives when we just know that God is talking to us? Why is it that in our lives memories are so important? Why is it that the memories that we have of funerals and weddings and baptisms are the ones that stop us short and make us take time to assess our relationship with the God who loves us so much?
Well, for one thing they are the three times in life when people really get together and celebrate life in the name of the One who gives it. These are the times when we all know why we are together. It's not because we justr got elected to the city school board, or because we received the big promotion at work or even because we won the big $2,000 bingo prize. No, it is because these are moments when Faith in and Love for God are at the core of the event. Yes, even at funerals.
It is a memory that came to me yesterday when I first read the Gospel lesson for today. It is the Gospel quote above from Saint Mark. [The emphases are mine.]
The title for this reflection is from the "Ave Maria." We beg Mary that she intercede for us before her Son so that we can experience a good death. There was a time when the spirituality of "Good Death" was very strong. We lived in the anticipation of the day when God would come calling. We prayed that we would be awake. To be found awake was considered to be a great gift, the great grace that God would grant to those who believed and lived accordingly. We prayed for the grace to be counted among the "five wise virgins" about whom the evangelist Matthew wrote so eloquently.
This was an especially predominant prayer during the month of November, the month dedicated to the memories of our dearly departed. It is at this moment, during this season that we offer a large part of our spiritual life to God in favor of the souls who have gone before us. It is an opportunity for us to remember our connection to God through the brothers and sisters who enriched our lives while they were on earth. The fact that they have moved on and changed their form of life does not take them away from us. They give us the hope for a happy death of our own.
The memory of these souls pushes us to remember that some of them may still be in need of our intercession on their behalf. This is our chance to make restitution for our errors and malfeasances by praying for their cleansing before their glorious entry into the full and unveiled vision of God Himself. When we remember these truths of our faith, we know that the memory comes from God Himself and that by it He makes us better. Through these memories He urges us to come closer to Him. Through these memories He shows us what actions He expects of us in our lives here below. Yes, these are moments of great opportunity given to us as we strive for holiness in preparation for His coming. These are the Cockcrow of God Himself awakening us and stimulating us to higher levels of virtue.
These are the thoughts that the memories of my yesteryears brought me. I leave you with them as I remind you that there is no crying allowed at my funeral.