And making a gathering, he [Judas] sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection, (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead,) And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them. It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins. (2 Maccabees 12:43-46)
On All Souls Day I joined the community of monks here at Saint Mary’s Abbey for the annual and traditional prayers at the cemetery. There the gathered monks read aloud more than 100 names of the deceased confreres buried in the two cemeteries (here and in East Orange, NJ) since the founding of the abbey in 1857. After each set of names was read aloud we sang the Kyrie. At the conclusion we sang the traditional hymn at the burial of a monk in the American Cassinese Congregation, the “Ultima” (see below). It was a terse but moving experience especially since this was a time in which many of the monks remembered their friends who have gone before them marked with the sign of faith.
Ultima in mortis hora, When death’s hour is then upon us,
Filium pro nobis ora, To your Son pray that he grant us,
Bonam mortem impetra, Death, both holy and serene,
Virgo, Mater, Domina. Virgin Mary, Mother, Queen.
A prayer you may offer at the cemetery when visiting your friends and relatives:
Almighty God and Father, by the mystery of the cross, you have made us strong; by the sacrament of the resurrection you have sealed us as your own. Look kindly upon your servants, now freed from the bonds of mortality, and count them among your saints in heaven. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Into your hands, O Lord, we humbly entrust our brothers and sisters. In this life you embraced them with your tender love; deliver them now from every evil and bid them enter eternal rest.