02 November 2023

For those who've gone before

Today being the feast of All Souls, or The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, as my missal has it, it's time to revisit my annual post where I remember those gone before me. It's a special day in the Church calendar dedicated to trying to help those we've loved, and even those we've conspicuously failed to love, and so many who we've never known, to make their way towards God and towards becoming who they were truly created to be.

The word 'Purgatory' may not appear in the Bible, but that doesn’t mean the doctrine isn’t there, readily drawn out from references to prayers that help the dead, to how nothing imperfect can enter heaven and a fire that purifies us after death, and to a prison where souls go till their debts are paid. Those are the lessons the early Christians drew from these lessons, and from their Jewish forebears. Just as it’s for the Blessed in Heaven to pray for us, so it is for us, then, to visit those souls in prison but guaranteed to share in the Blessed Vision, praying for those destined for heaven that they may more quickly reach the top of Dante’s mountain of hope. Having done the Camino de Santiago, and even the three-day pilgrimage at St Patrick's Purgatory at Lough Derg, I have a better sense these days than I once did of how we're all in this together, obliged to pull together to help each other to the finishing line. 

With that in mind, then, I have a lot of people to pray for today, just as I hope lots of people, here or up above, are praying for me, since we all need each other's help at one time or another. Many of these, I'm sure, don't need any prayers at all, but it certainly can't hurt, and if anyone here needs any help at all, I do hope my prayers will give that, in whatever meagre way they can.

At Mass today in Whitefriar's Street I had, as ever, new names to add to those I remember every year: Liam Coffey, a father to friends and a onetime regular from my days working in the pub, latterly someone to smile, nod, and chat to at the counter of the Lord Edward, left us the day after All Souls last year;  Marion Doyle, onetime neighbour to my parents and a warm host in Kilcormac when I was a child, who died last December; Mark Howard, a coworker who died so suddenly in April, surely long before his time; Renate Kurzmann, a friend for almost a quarter of a century, and a dear host in Vienna once upon a time, taken so suddenly this May; Maria Lezama, who had taught me to be more Mary than Martha in Cork's L'Arche Community, and who passed away in July; John Brierley, who I had the pleasure of meeting once and interviewing another time,  and whose Camino books led the way for me and so many others; and Nina-Jayne Birley, who once drove me hours out of her way for the sake of an interview, and who we lost this September; Gerry Murray too, a friend of friends and a onetime regular from my barman days, and Paddy Trodden, one of Palmerstown's more distinctive figures whose family background was somehow unknown even to his next-door neighbours until he died.

I thought that was today done, but then this evening, on the way home, I learned that Declan Moroney, my onetime mentor and sub-editor on the paper, the man who drove our journalistic bus in a very real sense, had passed on too: I'd wanted to meet him at the Vermeer exhibition in Holland this year, us having had a great day together at the Dublin exhibition a few years ago, but it wasn't to be, and another attempt at crossing paths a couple of months ago also came to nothing; I'm glad I still have his many texts, mind, and so many memories, and I hope I'll have his prayers: he'll certainly have mine.

And so, to turn to those who would have been in mind this day last year too...

I pray for my mum, Veronica Daly, who we lost at Christmas 2020 and laid to rest in Dublin and Liverpool over the next two years, her ashes divided between the city where her family raised her and the city where she raised her family. I pray too today for Nana and Grandad, all the Dodds, Auntie Maureen, Valerie McKenna, my cousins Philip, David, Susan, and Lily; for Auntie Brenda and Uncle Tommy, Auntie Kathleen, Great Auntie Mary, my cousins Janet and Michael, and Richard; for my uncle John; for Mam's parents, for aunt Doreen and for Monica. I pray too for Joan's husband Gerry Kavanagh, and for Edwin Bergquist and Terry Winker, both of whom I've lost from the wonderful family into which I've been blessed to marry. 

I pray for Mary and Paddy Hoare, for Mr Harwood, for Mr and Mrs McCourt, for Mrs Carrigan and for Michael Carrigan, for Mr Gahan, for Mr and Mrs Reeves, for John Ryan, Mick Doyle, Mr Lyons, Jim Freeman, Mrs Gibson, Mr and Mrs and Bernie Flanagan, Mrs Mannelly, Mr Doyle, Elizabeth Kenny, and Matt and Clare O’Reilly.

I pray for Sr Margaret Murtagh; for Johnny McGrath, Delores Spittal, Dick Molumby, Frank Beggan, Dessie Breen, Sean Forde, and Mollie O'Callaghan, and all those I know from Palmerstown Credit Union; for Gerry Hendricken, Frank Coakley, Damien Brunton, and Margaret Trodden; for Joe and Nora Hanrahan, Matt Garrigan, Dave Leavy, Frank and Mrs Towey, Jack Farrelly, Shay Lord, Jim Skerritt, David Fitzgerald, Billy Callaghan, Jimmy Owens, Gary Kennedy, Paul's uncle Francis Kennedy and Neasa's aunt Marie Doyle, all known to me from the Silver Granite; for Mary Ward; for Tom Corr, Sean Mitchell, Eamon Woulfe, Liam Glynn, Eddie Martin, Padraic Naughton, and Bro. John Hyland from Moyle Park.

I pray for so many of my peers, taken far too soon, and for those with whom I have walked: Gavan Nugent, Padraic Ryan, Anthony Desmond, Sean Kenny, Paul Brown, Claire Edmonds, Conn Murphy, Marie Plisnier, Agueda Pons, Michelle Cosgrave and her father Ollie, Ultan Sinclair, and Susan Dunne and her parents Paschal and Angela; for Kathleen Griffin and Niamh Moloney from Catholic Voices; for Julie Yipp and Kevin Hunneybell from my Camino, and for Francis McKenzie from my visit to Peru.

I pray for Val Grant, Alex Walker, Theresa MacDonagh, Gerard McCarthy, Sheila Griffith, and Alan Gilbert from the University of Manchester; and for John, Kathleen Bibby, Mary McFaul, John and Agnes Ainsworth, and Kate Gregg, all from Wilmslow.

I pray for Sr Mary David Totah; for Fr Con Curley, Fr Gerard Byrne, and Fr Flo Lynch; for Fr David Lumsden and Fr Martin Ryan; for Fr Tom Heneghan; for Fr Simon Roche OP, Fr Martin McCarthy OP, Fr Dermot Brennan OP, Fr Bob Talty OP, and Fr Denis Keating OP; and for Sr Margarita Schwind OP.

I pray for Jenny Daly, and Sr Agnes, and Helen, and all the other ladies from Mam's nursing home.

I pray for Bill Kinsella from Boora; for Fritz Schult from Pollatomish; for Steve's wife Ruth Southall; for Sarah's grandad Alan Martindale; for Laura's grandad Tony Adams; for Jason's mum Marlene Crowley and Sophie's dad Johnny von Pfluegl; for Christopher's mum Mary Dawson; for Michael's mother Ann Kelly; for Colum's dad Joe Keating, for Eamon's dad Packie McGarty, for John's dad Gerry Duffy, for Aidan's father Colin Higgins, for the fathers of Daron Higgins, Lucy Corcoran, Dara Gantley, Bláithín Ni Giolla Rua, Martin Brady, and Bridget Martin, and the parents of Claire O'Brien; for Ned's mum Maura Hughes; for Jean's dad Kevin Callaghan; for Breda Polly and Tom Crotty; for Rory's mum Anne Fitzgerald; for Dan's wife Naima Jackson; for Mike's sister Katie Lewis; for Bob's dad Brian McCabe; for Dawn Foster and Liam Cahill who I knew just through their writing and their warmth and wisdom over the internet; for Polly and Dan’s friends Will Scott and Dominic Crisp; and for George Kiely, who stood with me when I needed true support.

I pray for the souls of all those dear to those I love, for the souls of all those dear to me, and for the souls of all those whose names and faces I have forgotten. 

I pray too for the families of all those I remember, and of those who, like Francis Benedict Pyles and Margaret Mary Hill, are not themselves in need of any prayers and went to God assured of their rest in his blessed vision.

May the Lord God almighty have mercy on their souls, and may his perpetual light shine upon them; may they rest in peace.


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