Have I Forgotten the Holy Souls?
I've certainly done my part - work wise.
We have a list and I check it more than twice. Sending personal letters to those families bereaved in the past year; inviting them to the All Souls Mass. Double check details. Go over the list again to let those reading the names of the deceased know the proper pronunciations - to the best of my ability. And sometimes I don't know and with other names the readers don't understand the simple standard pronunciation symbols. And we anguish that someone will be offended; or worse, we exacerbate their hurt. And, for the same reasons, we anguish over the correct spelling of all the names that go in the bulletin.
And praying as I'm working I start to notice my prayer changes from an "Eternal rest..." for the soul of each person as I type his name. It becomes more of, "Please, God, don't let me screw up. Really. Please." And I notice that my worry over screwing up is not so much for the sake of the bereaved but for the sake of maintaining a certain level of high performance. There are screw ups anyway. I don't believe any souls have been lost and I have been the one who has suffered the most from my gaffs. Not even so much suffered, as had some sharp ego points gently polished.
One year there was a woman who received a letter in which I had left the name of the deceased from a previous letter. She sent it back with a polite "I think there's been a mistake," written on the letter. With a smiley face - the universal woman's symbol for I'm not Angry/Please Don't Be Angry. And I wrote back my profuse apology. The most I could hope was that she was encouraged to find she was dealing with a 'real' person, not just a computer.
Another year an elderly couple called about the letter. I had to remind them that they had put a distant relative on the list of prayers for the deceased many months back. "Oh, that Joseph!"
|Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,|
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace. Amen.
So I toil over the list. And I should pray for these souls. Even though I cannot get to the Mass this year, there should already have been some prayers included in the work. And sitting here tonight I wonder if this has become such an easy, pro forma operation for me that I forget why I am doing it. And I pray an Eternal Rest and also ask the Lord to help me...refocus.