November 2023: Editorial

Pleasing the living and loving the dead     

‘Remember, Remember the 5th of November’. As a child in London in the 1950s the dark November nights were illuminated annually by the celebration of the Catholic Guy Fawkes failure to blow up the king and houses of Parliament in 1605. Although I attended a Catholic school run by the Daughters of Charity no one seemed disturbed or offended at the idea that we should attend bonfires, ignite rockets and collect ‘a penny for the Guy’, the straw filled dummy which was later placed at the head of the flames. They were less sensitive times and few people gave thought to the violent origins of the event, everyone simply enjoying the colour and excitement of crowds, flames, and fireworks.

Human beings love to remember, especially our dead on whose shoulders we stand. The ones who made sacrifices for us endured harder times and generally lived shorter lives. During November days we pray for their eternal happiness and give thanks for their contribution to our lives. We also remember with heavy hearts those whose lives were cut short and left us too young. This past summer witnessed a sad litany of young people and children whose lives were cut short, their families experiencing intense grief and loss this winter. With an annual death rate of over 30,000 souls each year in Ireland sees tens of thousands of families mourning the loss of loved ones. There are many walking, wounded by grief and loss among us. They too need to be the focus of our prayers, care and support on their journey of grief during this month. It was the Greek playwright Sophocles who reminded us over two thousand years ago;

‘We have only a little time to please the living,
But all eternity to love the dead.’

Paul Clayton-Lea 

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