TITLE: Mass on a Hill
By Gabrielle Morgan
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MASS ON A HILL
A faint breeze disturbed the stillness of the evening. It had been a hot day, and the farming people had gathered together in the graveyard on the hill. A priest, fully clad in his vestments was amongst them.
There was no funeral, but a mass was to be said as designated by the Church Calendar for the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed.
The priest set up a table as an altar, covered it with a white linen cloth and placed it on top of a granite slab covering one of the tombs. Seats were placed between the graves so that the farmers could sit down during the service.
A palpable peace descended on the group as the priest began the liturgy.
“How many of you have relatives or friends buried here?” he asked.
Almost everyone put up their hands.
“Is that right?” He nodded appreciatively. “Then this service will have special meaning to you all.”
It was very evident among the congregation that this was so. Seated beside the graves they responded to the priest’s words of prayer with deep concentration of mind and spirit. Echoes of the
past penetrated their thoughts as they remembered loved ones, now gone, but very much present with them.
After the readings and touching homily the mass progressed. The people quietly filed up to the priest to receive Communion. They returned, heads bowed in prayer, the quiet only broken by the sound of crickets chirping and the bleating of sheep in the surrounding paddocks.
A deep sense of communion with the dead and an awareness of the transitory nature of life was apparent, all startlingly tangible in an environment which was so much part of the beauty of creation.
The mass ended, but no one was eager to rush away. They, each with thoughts of their own, preferred to quietly pay reverence to the departed around them.
On that warm evening, somehow, God had touched them in a very special way.
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