Members committed to pray at wakes for the departed and give comfort to the bereaved families.
Frequency of Meetings:
Quarterly administrative meeting, Monthly prayer meet, All on the second Thursday of the month.
About Lazarus Ministry
In Lazarus We Pray
Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?
St Paul's first letter to the Corinthians (15:51-57) tells us that our Lord Jesus Christ redeems us from death:
I will tell you something that has been secret: that we are not all going to die, but we shall all be changed. This will be instantaneous, in the twinkling of an eye, when the last trumpet sounds. It will sound, and the dead will be raised, imperishable, and we shall be changed as well, because our present perishable nature must put on imperishability and this mortal nature must put on immortality.
When this perishable nature has put on this imperishability, and when this mortal nature has put on immortality, then the words of scripture will come true. Death is swallowed up in victory. Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting? Now the sting of death is sin, and sin gets its power from the Law. So let us thank God for giving us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
For many of us, death is a time of grief, especially when our loved ones and friends pass away suddenly. But through Jesus' Resurrection, Catholics believe there is life after death. Before entering God's Kingdom, souls must first go through a state of purification or Purgatory.
Because the souls of the departed cannot pray for themselves, the Lazarus Ministry prays on their behalf.
Lazarus Ministry Spiritual Director Deacon Clement explains...
"Lazarus is a wonderful ministry, geared towards praying for the soul. After one dies, the soul goes to a 'holding area' until it is purged. This is where the soul would need prayers to help shorten the stay in purgatory before going to heaven."
"By praying at wakes, we also proclaim the Word of God. We also pray to the Saints because they inspire us by their holy heroic acts, and they intercede for us. Their holiness and goodness profit us all. We also implore the intercession of Mother Mary. She, together with the apostles, prays for us and the whole church, as she is the model of faith and charity."
HELP & CONSOLATION
Another role of the Lazarus Ministry is to step in to help and console the family of the deceased in their time of need. This is particularly important, especially when family members are non-Catholics. They may be at a lost as to how to arrange for the evening prayer sessions which typically start at 8.15pm and lasts for about 30 minutes.
"There are some Catholics who may be superstitious and view death or attending a wake as bad luck. Death in Christianity is not bad luck as we celebrate the funeral mass. At the wake prayer service, we also thank God for the life of the deceased; praise God, the life giver; petition for God's mercy on the deceased; intercede for the bereaved family, besides bringing hope and consolation to the family. This is one of the spiritual works of mercy as a member of Christ's body," says Winnie Chan, Chairperson for the Lazarus Ministry.
The Lazarus Ministry uses a special prayer book which was put together with the help of former Lazarus Ministry Spiritual Director Fr Luke Fong. The book contains five sets of prayers which can be used for different nights.
SUPPORT OVER A DECADE, RAIN OR SHINE!
"Rain or shine, the Lazarus Ministry will respond when our fellow Catholic brothers and sisters need our support in prayer," says Chan who has been serving in the ministry for over a decade and knows just how invaluable it is to have the support of fellow Catholics in times of grief.
"I thank God for blessing me with strength and perseverance to serve Him, as I trust in His promise: 'My grace is sufficient for you to face any challenges'," she adds.
OTHER MINISTRY DETAILS
The Lazarus Ministry was formed by Fr Greg on April 25, 2002. Today, the ministry has 46 members.
There is no set schedule for members as there is no way to know when their prayer services would be required. The Lazarus Ministry also shares the prayer service with the Neighbourhood Catholic Communities (NCCs). Members get anywhere between a few hours' and up to 1-2 days' notice.
Should there be two wakes held on the same night, members are broken up into two groups to ensure attendance at both prayer sessions.
A FULFILLING EXPERIENCE
Many Lazarus Ministry members have found their experience fulfilling. "I find that it is very meaningful to pray for those who have departed, especially knowing that praying will also bring comfort to the family members," says Shirley Choo.
Indeed, such prayers sessions have also proved to be a wonderful way to reach out to non-Catholics. Steven Loke, who joined the Lazarus Ministry during his RCIA journey in 2012, shared how he was touched by the Catholic praying community at the wake of his late Catholic wife.
"I believe that the prayers by the NCC at my late wife's wake had a part to play in my conversion," shares Loke. "It has been a very satisfying experience serving this ministry, and I hope we will be able to convert hearts and minds of those attending the wakes."
Says another member who continues to find much fulfillment in the ministry's work which is part of God's calling for every Catholic to be his stewards, "The church community prays with the bereaved family. We believe that departed souls need our prayers, besides our own need to pray, so as to unite our prayers to God the most high."
For Catholics, prayer is at the centre of our life. We are called to pray with one heart and as one church at all times.
Article by Isabelle Chan
Member of Lazarus Ministry & Communications Ministry
Photo by Vincent Kwa