Mass for Deceased 2023 Jubilarians Preaching by Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP Friday, June 23, 2023 Song of Songs 2:10-14 John 15:15b-17 Can you feel it? Can you feel their presence? These 69 women who’ve gone before us, who are joining us here, now, at this sacred moment, this thin time – thin places as the Irish call them – where life as we know it and life in the world beyond connect. They are here to celebrate our shared lives and commitment that are bigger than time and space as we experience them. Our foresisters are here and they rejoice with us. They know directly the voice of God who calls them, “my love, my fair one.” We all knew that voice at some point, and responded, “Yes, here I am.” Sometimes we can forget the power of the love that first called us on this path, that continues to call us. Perhaps you even chuckled when you heard, “your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.” We might not always feel very sweet and lovely. But in the eyes of the Divine we all are simply beautiful. Our foresisters who’ve gone before us know that fully now as they bask in the divine gaze of the fullness of eternal Love. And isn’t that the spirit of love we have tried, at our better times, to reflect to those we encounter, to those we want to serve? We want to reflect to others their dignity and beauty in the eyes of God – we want to love. That’s why we said yes to this call. Sometimes we may have lost this inspiration, or have had ministries in which the act of love wasn’t always clear, or had inner struggles that turned us in on ourselves. And that is a part of any life that aims to love fully. Yet, Christ still calls us friends. No one gives up on a friend because they don’t love perfectly or consistently. Just as Jesus trusts the disciples in John’s Gospel and sends them forth, even knowing their many limitations, so God trusts us, even now, to love one another in whatever way we can. Last Sunday I was very touched as I watched a sister during Mass. There was another sister sitting near her who was having trouble finding her place in the hymnal. The first sister went over and gently opened the book to the correct page. Later, she noticed that the sister wanted to stand for the Gospel, but was having trouble, so she went over and helped her up. Now the first sister herself is unable to stand for long and actually sat down after helping the other sister up. She was mindful, kind, and loving and I could see the gratitude in the sister who received her care. That was an example of compassion and love right here in this chapel. We see it all the time. I want to end by sharing something I experienced on my retreat last summer. Perhaps this happened to give me some encouragement in the new role I was about to take on General Council. I wasn’t even in a moment of prayer or reflection, I was just rummaging around my bedroom at the retreat center, and suddenly I became aware of the presence of my foresisters. It was a gentle presence, a comforting presence. After I sat with them, I wrote the following: “Our sisters go before us and are with us. We are not alone. They have the bigger picture. They aren’t expecting the impossible from us. They just want to help us carry it. They are full of kindness and compassion.” We are united today in our love, our commitment, and our fidelity. In the great timeless force of Love that carries us all, we celebrate our foresisters and know they still share the journey with us. And we respond, encouraged, full of kindness and compassion and love.