The Supreme Chaplain for the Knights of Columbus, Bishop William Lori, spoke to the Knights during their memorial Mass for deceased Knights and loved ones about the natural fear of death and what lies beyond this life.
On the Feast of the Lord’s Transfiguration, the Bishop of Bridgeport, Connecticut recalled that the feast is a beautiful day “to gather in prayerful remembrance of our beloved dead.”
“This feast, I daresay, shows us how to pray for our beloved dead, to pray in the hope to which we have been called. We can see this if we enter into the Lord’s rest, that is, if, in the power of the Holy Spirit, we ascend the mountain of the Lord, together Peter, James, and John. This is precisely what this Eucharistic liturgy enables us to do.
“The Transfiguration is an event recounted in all four Gospels where Jesus leads three of the apostles, Peter, James and John to a high mountain where he changed in appearance before them, surrounded by a glorious light. A voice from the clouds spoke and said: “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”
“Dear friends,” continued Bishop Lori, “we’ve listened to the account of the Transfiguration for years. We’ve heard it proclaimed on the Second Sunday of every Lent; and at every Eucharist, we share in what the Transfiguration foreshadowed: the conquest of sin and death by the death and resurrection of the Incarnate Son of God. Nonetheless, we are still scandalized by death and we still fear it.”
He then acknowledged that as humans, “we naturally fear our own death and wonder what truly lies beyond its threshold. Sometimes we undergo temptations against faith, hope, and love when loved ones are taken from us, particularly when they suffer from painful illnesses or die suddenly, or die far too soon, at least according to our reckoning.”
Bishop Lori then asked, how “do we square our loss with the gain of the Resurrection?”
“In today’s second reading, Peter tells us that the Transfiguration is not a clever story but rather something completely reliable, a lamp shining in dark place . . . those places in our hearts that are not yet brightened by full faith in the Resurrection of the Son of God.”
Similar to Peter, Lori continued, “our holy founder, the Venerable Fr. Michael McGivney, staked his entire life and priesthood on the reliability of the Lord’s glory,” which “does not consist so much in cosmic signs as in the love of God poured forth into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.”
“As the eyes of our soul gaze upon the Transfigured Lord, and as we receive the Body of the Lord, crucified, risen, and exalted . . . do we not taste a love stronger than sin & more powerful than death?” the bishop asked. “Doesn’t his new, indestructible life course through us, body and soul? This was the life and love which gave the Mexican martyrs, members of our Order, the strength and courage to lay down their lives for Christ! And it is in this same love that we are united to those who have gone before us, so that we can pray for them and they indeed can pray for us!”
“During this Holy Mass,” he concluded, “we pray that all our beloved dead of the family of the Knights of Columbus may share eternally in the glory of God shining on the face of Christ.”