Many people came to a Requiem Mass at Our Lady Immaculate on Saturday to pray for Fr Jacques Hamel, and those persecuted for their faith around the world.
After the first reading they heard the Norbertine schola of the church chant the Dies iræ – something that would have been very familiar to Fr Jacques himself, as Fr Hugh pointed out in his homily. He went on to talk about the men who had killed the aged priest.
“We can’t understand their motivation – we shouldn’t even try. But what we can do is love them as children as God. That’s our answer to terror, to bloodshed, to murder – to love. But that’s a hard thing to do.”
He said: “These days many people are looking backwards at where they come from when they should be thinking about their destination.” He added: “We know that death is not the end – we go from death to life. Fr Jacques has gone home to his heavenly family.
In his newsletter, Fr Jacques encouraged his parishioners to be holy, he said, to imitate the holiness of the saints in ordinary things. “His was an extraordinary sacrifice – he gave his life to God.”
“As we pray for Fr Jacques, we think about our own destination. Our Lord said in today’s reading: ‘You know the way to the place where I am going.'”
“Today we pray for our destination: we know the way and we trust in God. Whatever men may try to do, never let anyone come between us and the love of God. Our duty is the salvation of souls – the soul of Fr Jacques and the man who killed him.”
Fr Hugh said that he became a priest because of his desire to see God face to face – and that he wanted that for all of those listening to him too.
“We thank God for the witness of this great priest, Fr Jacques, and for all our brothers and sisters around the world who face dangers and difficulties simply for loving God. We pray above all for the salvation of souls in Jesus Christ. May Fr Jacques pray for us – his life will be for nothing unless we try to live the love of God. We will never let evil win if we stand firm on that – and remember that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.”
The congregation sang a traditional French communion hymn, J’irai la voir un jour, and later gave a rousing rendition of Faith of our fathers at the end of Mass.