4th December – St John Damascene

When I conduct funeral liturgies I always try to keep the focus on divine worship: praying for the deceased person to receive a merciful judgement; that if they are in Purgatory, they will be helped by the prayers offered; strengthening of hope of participating in the Resurrection; and of course, thanking God for having redeemed us from eternal death by Jesus’ Pascal Mystery.

Given latter day weakness of faith, this primary purpose of the funeral Love of Godliturgy can be replaced with celebrating the life of the deceased person, like what happens at a humanist (non-believer) service or what one sees on a TV show. This however can be an appropriate secondary theme once we acknowledge that all that’s worth celebrating in our lives comes as a gift from God.

Today in the Brievary, we have St John Damascene thanking God for all the blessings of his life (below). It may help you to offer God your own hymn of praise.

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O Lord, you led me from my father’s loins and formed me in my mother’s womb. You brought me, a naked babe, into the light of days. By the blessing of the Holy Spirit, you sent me forth into the light by adopting me as your son [baptism] and you enrolled me among the children of your holy and spotless Church.

You nursed me with the spiritual milk of your divine utterances [catechetical instruction]. You kept me alive with the solid food of the body of Jesus Christ, your only-begotten Son and our God, and you let me drink from the chalice of his life-giving blood, poured out to save the whole world [the Eucharist].

You loved us, O Lord, and gave up your only-begotten Son for our redemption. And he undertook the task willingly and did not shrink from it. Indeed, he applied himself to it as though destined for sacrifice, like an innocent lamb. Although he was God, he became man, and in his human will, became obedient to you, God his Father, unto death, even death on a cross.

In this way you have humbled yourself, Christ my God, so that you might carry me, your stray sheep, on your shoulders. Now you have called me, Lord, by the hand of your bishop to minister to your people [as a priest]. I do not know why you have done so, for you alone know that. Lord, lighten the heavy burden of the sins through which I have seriously transgressed. Purify my mind and heart. Like a shining lamp, lead me along the straight path. When I open my mouth, tell me what I should say. Stay with me always and keep me in your sight. Whatever I do, let it be in accordance with your will, now until the end.

 

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