Today is October 3rd and that is the vigil of the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi. For Franciscans worldwide, tonight is the “Transitus,”or the ritual observance of his death.
I won’t go into details as to what transpires during the ritual, as I am not a Franciscan and thus have never participated. However, I will blog briefly on the event as it is significant for this blog in some ways.
I read up on the Transitus and various Franciscan sites and blogs variously describe the ritual observance as important as it connects Franciscans with each other – those living today and those who have gone before. That this great community is united by the observance of the death of their Order’s Founder is a wonderful lesson. It is something that can be incorporated in our lives.
“Memento Mori.” “Be mindful of your death.” In memorializing the anniversaries of when our loved ones died, we remember them as they were if their death was lingering due to age or infirmity; but we can also remember them as they had been when still vital and younger. If they died suddenly, it can be a way to “manipulate time,” they were suddenly taken from us but in or memorial observance we can “be there” in some spiritual fashion. If they died too young, well, perhaps it can be a manner in which they are brought forward in life along with us.
Our beloved dead are not forgotten, they are still with us, although in a ritualistic spiritual way. Their death is no longer some event isolated in thr past that might fade a somewhat in memory over the years. Oh, we still remember when Mom or Uncle Jimmy died, but over the years the date slowly becomes just another day in November or July.
Ritual is important. It helps organize life and mark time. “Ritual” is also the hidden word in spiRITUALity, something lost, I think, in those who eschew religion in favor of only spirituality.
As I write this, the feeling is growing within me to actually think about doing this somehow for some of my beloved dead. One way is on the Anniversary of a death is to say the “Office of the Dead” from the Church’s Liturgy of the Hours. Here is an online source: Office of the Dead.
Why is this important for Sober Catholic readers? Death is hard on everyone, but I think there may be a special hurt for people in recovery (regardless of how long clean and sober.) You were somewhat absent from their life while they were alive, because of your drinking and using. And now they’re really gone. Really hard if you owe them an amends. Doing a “transitus” for someone might help you cope with the loss, as well as “make amends.”
Perhaps I’ll think of some thing to do in addition to the Office of the Dead. Making a cemetery visit is good, if possible. Maybe readers this can offer suggestions in the comments.
NOTE: (Reblogged in slightly edited form from The Four Last Things)Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics" and "The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts" (Thank you!!)