Feast of All Souls – Sister Maureen Lomax, SNDdeN

Oct 29, 2023 | Gospel Reflections

Matthew 11: 25-30

As I write this reflection, I am very aware of the many parts of the world where thousands of innocent people are grieving for the tragic and sudden loss of their loved ones. Ceremonies and prayers for the dead are constant factors for those in Ukraine, Gaza, Israel, Syria and other areas of tragedy and conflict. ‘May the dead rest in peace and may the living strive for true peace. Amen.’

The Gospel reading for ‘All Souls’, Matthew 11:25-30, follows on from Jesus’s lament over the lakeside towns of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, and his condemnation of those who have rejected the values of Christ’s kingdom. The pride and hostility of the chosen people leads Jesus to condemn them to hell (Gehenna) and to praise the gentiles from Sodom, Tyre and Sidon.
(How far does pride and hostility between people destroy God’s kingdom?)

In Mt. 25 –27; the tone changes to a more formal, almost liturgical statement which some scholars think comes from an Aramaic tradition, perhaps a hymn. The ‘Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture’ states that Jesus’s words are rich in the traditions of the Old Testament: sapiential (wisdom of the Father through the Son), apocalyptic (revelation through Jesus) and prophetic (‘mere children’ will know and understand that the Son conveys God’s message fully). It is a bold assertion from Jesus which confirms the ‘oneness’ of God the Father and Jesus the Son. But what is unwelcome news to many of his listeners, ‘the learned and clever’ is that it is ‘mere children’ who will become wise, able to understand and witness to God’s kingdom.
(How can we maintain ‘the child within’ so that God’s revelation is clearer to us?)

The last part of this reading, Mt 11: 28-30; is probably one of the best-known gospel extracts (only cited in Matthew). Having shocked his listeners by asserting that the good news has been, is being and will be revealed to ‘the simple’, Jesus offers an open invitation to those ‘who labour and are burdened’. God, through Christ, is saying ‘Come to me’ to anyone who ‘needs rest’. What has happened to the special guarantees assumed by the Scribes and Pharisees? Thay appear to have gone. Anyone willing to take up the ‘yoke’ offered by Jesus, will have an easier time. Jesus’s ‘new yoke’ is not burdened by the legalism of Jewish Law. ‘Mere children’ will learn from Jesus about being ‘gentle and humble of heart. This is good news for all. It is not exclusive to the so-called wise and learned.
(Am I willing to carry Jesus’s ‘yoke’ in ‘gentleness and humility’ like a child every day?)

‘The Commemoration of All the Faithful departed’ on 2 November is closely associated, in my mind, with ‘All Saints’ celebrated the day before. I recall especially over those two days the living and the dead in my family as well as friends and others. The gospel reading reminds us of God’s openness to all who follow the path (yoke) shown by Christ. That invitation ‘Come to me’ is surely relevant to the living and the dead who wish to be part of God’s kingdom. God knows who is really ‘gentle and humble of heart’ and truly willing to off-load the weariness and burdens so as to enter that kingdom. We pray most of our formal prayers ‘through Christ Our Lord…’ On ‘All Souls’ the ‘Alleluia verse’ quotes Jn 6:39 ‘it is my father’s will that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me…’
All are invited!


Matthew 11: 25-30

At that time Jesus said in reply, “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”


Meet Sister Maureen Lomax , SNDdeN

Maureen Lomax was born in Lancashire, England, on September 1st 1942, the third living child of four, two girls and two boys. Like most families who raised children during the Second World War, her family coped with food rationing, second-hand clothes/furniture, running into the bomb shelter at night during air raids, borrowing and lending sugar/tea/etc., and father away in the Army. Although everything was in short supply, and everyone was encouraged not to waste anything, her mother managed to feed the children, clothe them and see that they were well educated. The children all passed the scholarship and so could attend a Grammar or Technical School from the age of eleven onwards without having to pay school fees. They were very fortunate. That was when Maureen first met the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. From 1953 (the year all war rationing ended), she attended Notre Dame High School in St Helens, Merseyside. She entered the Ashdown Novitiate in 1959, made first vows in 1962 and final vows in 1967. Meanwhile, Sr. Maureen trained as a secondary teacher of English, Music and Religious Education, attending Notre Dame College of Education, Liverpool. She did a degree in Philosophy/Religious Studies at Leeds University in 1974. Over the years she taught mainly in non-selective secondary schools, teaching English, Religious Education, Music, Special Needs and some general subjects to boys and girls from 11 to 18 years of age. Sr. Maureen has worked in various parts of England: Wigan and St Helens in the North West, Norwich in East Anglia, Upminster in East London and Plymouth, Devon, in the South West. Unfortunately, just before she retired from the headship of Notre Dame RC School in Plymouth in 2002, she suffered a High Blood Pressure haemorrhage in her left eye which caused blindness. After her retirement, Sr. Maureen had time to recover her health and then had the privilege of visiting our Sisters in Nicaragua (2007), Peru and California (2008) and Zimbabwe (2009). In each place, she was able to give some practical help and also learn first-hand about the customs and conditions in which people survive. She has always had an interest in the work of our Sisters in these vulnerable parts of the world, and had a lot of theoretical knowledge about them, but being there and meeting the people still remains for her a living memory. Since then, Sr. Maureen has been involved in helping and supporting asylum seekers in Barnsley, North Yorkshire, together with a small Parish Group. She became Chair of Governors at a Roman Catholic and Anglican Secondary School and was able to use her recent experience of school leadership for the benefit of a school in difficulties. As a sideline, she planned and provided music for a parish together with a small group. In addition, work with Asylum Seekers was on-going within the Barnsley community which was ecumenical. Sr. Maureen served in Rome as General Secretary of the Sisters of Notre Dame from 2010 through 2013. After that she ministered in Britain as a Coordinator for our Sisters in a Notre Dame Health Care facility. In March 2017 she was ableto take a break from ‘responsibilities’ and moved to Birkdale in the north of England. Apart from playing the organ for community Masses, continuing being a School Governor~ at our Notre Dame College in Liverpool, visiting family and friends and doing little jobs in the house, she enjoyed some respite. From 2018-2020, London became her home when she assisted as a School Chaplain at Notre Dame Secondary School for Girls. Then Covid-19 struck and schools closed in March 2020. Sat that time she became aware that her niece in Derbyshire needed support in the care of her parents. For almost three years she was privileged to share the care of her sister in law who died in May 2021 and her elder brother until he died on 25th January 2023. Just before Easter 2023 she was able to move to Liverpool joining our Childwall Community where she has been able to enjoy the company of our Sisters and the assistance of caring staff.