When Helene Menard (Lataille) 1925-2017 passed away her son-in-law, my Uncle Tom Savoie asked if I would lead a Rosary during her internment at Notre Dame Cemetery in Pawtucket RI. I was honored to do so. Even though the internment was on a Wednesday I asked that we use the Luminous Mysteries normally reserved for Thursday. Added to the Rosary by Pope John Paul II in 2002, the Luminous Mysteries are the newest mysteries and are only said once a week.
The Luminous Mysteries blend in Jesus’s humility and love for us; in the Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist, in a call to action, in a mother’s tender love and in the wonderful promises of Jesus’s Transfiguration. The Mysteries of the Rosary are an inexhaustible wellspring of insights on God’s love for us for those that take the time to meditate on them. That’s the key to understanding the Rosary; it’s not a repetition of Our Fathers and Hail Marys but a meditation on the life of Jesus set to the music of our prayers.
As I prepared for the internment, I reflected on how the Mysteries illuminated the life of Helene Menard. Below is a transcript of my introductions to each Luminous Mystery at the internment.
1.The Baptism of Jesus: Jesus is baptized by St John the Baptist in the Jordan River. People gathered on the shore, some to be baptized, others to self-righteously gawk at sinners who would come to St John to be cleansed from their sins. A humble yet sinless Jesus comes to a shocked John the Baptist asking to be baptized.
By His Baptism Jesus brings His Divinity into our fallen and weak human nature. In turn, through our baptism, Jesus promises us to take our human nature into His divinity. Jesus has kept that Baptismal promise to Memere and with her passing has taken her to Himself.
2.The Wedding feast at Cana: Jesus, His Mother and His apostles attend a wedding. Here Jesus, at the request of His Mother, turns water into wine. With motherly concern she wanted her Son to perform a miracle to save the young newlyweds from the embarrassment of running out of wine at their own wedding. His Mother Mary, like all loving mothers, was tuned into the little troubles of life.
Jesus gave us everything that was exclusively His. Why should we be surprised that He would give us His Mother as well? And not only His mother, but a mother especially for each of us, like Memere. Memere loved Jesus’s mother very much, and like her she was concerned about us, not only in the important things, but also the small things that only a mother would worry about.
3.The Proclamation of the Kingdom: Jesus charged not only His apostles to preach the Gospel but gave us the same task as well. Not only are we use our words, but our actions. Memere’s words and actions brought Jesus to those around her.
How did Memere preach the gospel? Through her example of daily prayer and daily Mass, and by donating her time and treasure to those in need. For example, even as her eyesight dimmed, and her hands became unsteady, she continued to make Rosaries for others like the one I am using today. Let’s follow her example and through our love bring Jesus to others.
4.The Transfiguration: Just days before the agony of His crucifixion, Jesus strengthened His three closest apostles with a stunning vision of His glory. All that seemed forgotten in the sadness in Jesus’ death but only to be remembered again in the joy of His Resurrection.
We too should take comfort in the wonderful moments when Memere was among us and look with hope to the joy of our reunion with our family in Heaven and in the Resurrection to come.
5.The Institution of the Eucharist: Jesus, who loved us to the end, could not bear the thought of leaving us orphans. To be with us always, He instituted at the Last Supper the great gift of His presence in the Eucharistic Bread and Wine. Jesus is truly present in every tabernacle of every church across the world. He waits patiently there for us, wanting to hear of our joys and sorrows and to come to Him out of pure love.
When we sit in front of the Eucharist, Jesus is there with us. At the same time, all of those who have gone before us in the friendship of Jesus are there with Him also. So what does that mean? When we encounter Jesus, we also encounter His saints in Heaven because where He is, they are also. Do you want to be close again to Memere and our family in heaven? Stay close to Jesus in the Eucharist.
Post Script Notes:
Even though Helene Menard is not my biological grandmother, I could not imagine calling her anything else but Memere. Memere, French for grandmother, is a term of respect, reverence and endearment. Even my mother’s sister’s husbands are “Uncle” Jack and “Uncle” Dave to me. Doing so has laid the firm foundation for a close, loving relationship of respect and mentorship. Even at 53, all of my older relatives are referred to by me as “Uncle” or “Aunt.” When my niece Elizabeth got married I asked her new husband Collin to call me Uncle Joe. By doing so I hope to grow into a close relationship with him like my relationships with Uncle Jack and Uncle Dave. I really hope so, because he’s a great young man and I am very fond of him.
I have that relationship with my first cousin’s son Andrew Savoie and his wife Rosalyn. He is the same age as my oldest daughter and after taking about it, I became Uncle Joe. Just “Joe” felt awkward to both of us because it felt like a barrier rather than a facilitator for communication. We all have plenty of buddies but uncle and aunts are far rarer in our lives and I would rather have a few more of them then more pals to hang out with.
Memere was a prolific Rosary maker and her typical output of these treasures was two per day. I am blessed to have a couple of her home made Rosaries. The one I used for her internment in Pawtucket Rhode Island is extra special and rare because Memere made an obvious mistake making it. In the middle, one decade only has nine Hail Mary beads instead of ten and is followed by two Our Father beads.
Memere’s daughter Aunt Jackie said that Memere would normally never let an error like that escape without being corrected. The nine bead decade reminds me that human hands, not a factory, made this Rosary and that even as Memere began to fail she continued to make them even to the end.
Memere’s Obituary can be found here (It will take a moment to load): http://www.legacy.com/EnhancedObit/EnhancedObit.aspx?PersonID=187081687
Saying the Rosary: https://www.catholicity.com/prayer/rosary.html