HM The Queen
The momentous events of the past few days have centred around two remarkable persons, our late and much-loved Queen, and our new King Charles. And yet throughout the solemn ceremonies and observances another Person, King of Kings, has received a prominence not often accorded him in these increasingly secular times. We have said or sung, “God save the Queen”, and then “God save the King”. Prayers and readings from Scripture have been broadcast across the world. Proclamations and oaths have been made in His name. The personal faith of both the Queen and the King have been widely spoken of. While most of this is part of so-called “civic religion”, forms and protocols of a bygone age kept for tradition’s sake, it is a comfort to people of faith to know that Our Lord and our Christian faith are still very much part of the fabric of British society, and that our country still turns to the Word of God and the language of faith to express both sorrow and the continuity of life.
Our faith is primarily in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, who destroyed death so that we might have eternal life with him in heaven. But his victory over death still allows us space to grieve for those we have lost. We mourn the death of our Queen. As Cardinal Nichols said in his homily at the Solemn Requiem in Westminster Cathedral:
Our loss is profound and our sorrow immense. But we also know that her life continues, it is changed not ended. For as this earthly dwelling slowly turns to dust, we pray that she will gain an everlasting dwelling in heaven, where nothing of her great goodness is lost but rather brought to its fulfilment. In the words of St Paul, those who are baptised in Christ ‘went into the tomb with him and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory, we too might live a new life’ (Rom. 6:4).
Both our sorrow and our hope bring us to the Lord in prayer. While it is only right that we remember and celebrate the Queen, we have a duty and a privilege to pray for her soul. The Cardinal continued:
Our particular calling, as the Catholic community, is to pray for her, to pray for the dead. I imagine that every bouquet of flowers placed to honour our late Queen, or as is often said, to ‘pay her our last respects’ is, at heart, a silent prayer for the repose of her soul. With the great gift of clear and steadfast faith, we can make explicit those silent prayers of so many and in doing so make our humble contribution to these days of mourning and sadness.
We will celebrate a Solemn Requiem Mass for Her Majesty the Queen at 11am on Sunday 18 September, and on the day of her funeral, Monday 19 September, all Masses will be said for her soul. Thus we will offer to God the highest prayer we can, uniting our sorrow and love for the Queen with the sacrifice of Christ himself. May her soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
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