Refreshment, light and peace.
We usually use the old Roman Canon at the main Mass on Sundays in St Clement’s, and one of my favorite parts is when I say the prayer for the Departed and ask that they may be granted a place of “refreshment, light and peace”.
I have sat at many a death bed and seen a living, breathing, hoping, loving person become a lifeless body. The person has gone. And I have often said this prayer from the Canon. After all, these are the things most dying people are longing for.
By refreshment, we usually mean a new start or at least a new look. It can also mean a cool drink on a hot day, or a quick shower after a hard job. And even computers like this have a “Refresh” button which brings a page up to date. So the departed person will be longing for the refreshing sight of a new life.
This will be to them like emerging into light from a dark place. Often their deaths will have been painful and long, their faculties and strengths closing down and ebbing away. So we pray that they may arrive in a place of light, where they will see no more “through a glass darkly” as St Paul puts it, but “face to face”, no longer to “know in part” but to “know as they are known” by the loving God who made them just so that they might share his life of light and love.
And this will bring them the third thing we pray for in the old Canon, peace. “May they rest in peace” we say over and over again”, Requiescant in pace, RIP. Peace of mind, peace of spirit, no more struggle, no more misunderstandings no more separations. Just “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” which we pray for at the end of the Mass.
Refreshment, light and peace sums it up perfectly. And that’s just the beginning, till the trumpet sounds and the rest period is over, and the General Resurrection raises us all to a new life of love. And we have no adequate words to describe that – except perhaps “Heaven”!