Catholic Cemeteries offering special Advent services
Catholic Cemeteries is again offering people who are grieving the death of a loved one a special gathering of prayer during Advent – a prayer service Wednesday evenings in Omaha.
About 25 people each week took advantage of the opportunity when it was offered last year for the first time, said Deacon James Tardy, outreach manager.
"We’re praying for peace and healing as we await the Christ child," Deacon Tardy said. "A lot of people walked through Advent with that, and it seemed to help them a great deal."
The prayer services will be at 6 p.m. Dec. 7, 14 and 21, at Holy Angels Mausoleum in Resurrection Cemetery, 7800 W. Center Road. The first prayer service was Nov. 30.
Deacon Tardy will lead the 30-minute services, which will include readings, a brief homily, quiet time for prayer and reflection and a blessing.
People attending the services will be encouraged to write petitions on slips of paper and attach them to a Christmas tree in the mausoleum, Deacon Tardy said. Petitions will be prayed over at each service, and all petitions will be included Jan. 2 in the monthly memorial Mass at the mausoleum.
People also can visit anytime during Advent, to sit quietly and pray or write a petition, Deacon Tardy said.
The prayer services help people through their grief, particularly when many are not prepared for the bright lights and glitter of Christmas, Deacon Tardy said.
"We can do something here that is prayerful," he said.
Preparing for Christmas after the loss of a loved one
The following prayer from Creighton University’s Online Ministry will be part of Catholic Cemeteries’ Wednesday evening Advent prayer gatherings for people grieving the death of a loved one:
"Such a loss! Such a keen and tearing pain. Even when I am in a crowded room, there is a loneliness I never knew existed. While the world is bright and sparkling, my heart feels leaden and has an emptiness that cannot be filled.
"Lord, how can I enter into this season of joy? In my head I celebrate your girth into this world, but in my everyday life, I am filled with a grief that runs so very deep. You blessed me with a loving relationship and now it is gone from my life. How can I be faithful to that love and the memory of that love and my sorrow in this season of ‘Rejoice!’??
"Tears are so close to the surface all the time and helpful friends who want to ‘keep me busy’ don’t seem to really understand that I need to embrace my grief. I am afraid of letting go of the sadness and losing the deep love connection I had.
"Instead of entering into the Rejoice of Christmas, I long for the sorrow of Lent. I beg you, Lord, show me how the two are connected. I ponder the name Emmanuel and know that it means ‘God with us.’ With us. With me in this world, in this sorrow. If I look beyond my pain, I know what you, your Nativity is really about. You are in my world, in my pain.
"Thank you, Lord, for the loved one you blessed my life with. Grant me now in my grief, a peace. Give me a comfort that might not make the tears go away, but that lets me feel your presence as you take up a place deep in my heart, with me."