Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Blessed are they who Mourn

 In Matt.5:4, we read,  "Blessed are they who mourn,for they will be comforted."With these words, the Catholic Times introduces us to a program to help those faced with the death of a loved one. The death of a loved one is always painful but when the relationship is close, scars are difficult to heal.
In 2006, two Jesuits started the program to help not only those grieving for a spouse but children who have lost a parent. The two priests were  enabling others   who were faced with the same  sense of loss to join others  who were encountering the same difficulties. Receiving help from specialists in the field of death and grieving, the Jesuits put together an eight-week course for the two groups, each Jesuit being responsible for one of the groups.

Emotions are a gift from God, says one of the priests, and instead of repressing or distorting our feelings they need to be expressed, especially when caused by pain; expressing our feelings, he says, is healthy and good. For this reason, he would like to see the movement spread within the Church.

The life force of the groups is empathy. Because it is a meeting of those grieving, they understand each other, are able to speak freely about feelings they would have difficulty expressing even to their families. To have a priest present is also a help for those who are working through their grief. Having spent many years working with the bereaved, the priests can rely on their experience to make the appropriate response in any situation, if the participants request help.

In most cases the priest does little, only providing an opportunity for expressing shared griefs and the consolation that often results from healing those griefs. The group meetings are also a school for priests. Anything the priests want to say is often said by the participants before hand. They are both patient and doctor at the same time.

The first meeting of bereaved sons who have lost their parents occurred this year. Korean men do not find it easy to express their feelings, said one of the priests. They have not been formed in that way. Meeting together in a group has made it easier for them to deal with their feelings.

These groups, usually about 8 participants, are open to all to attend regardless of their beliefs, and last for eight weeks, after which the St. Paul sisters take over. The groups then become forums, talking about books that are selected.

During the month of November we are also given the opportunity to deal with our griefs, as the liturgy focuses on death and dying and about all those who have preceded us on our journey to God. The Buddhists, in a similar way, have the four annoyances: living, disease, old age and death. The four annoyances can also be seen as a way to a more mature understanding of life by the way we accept and respond to them.


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