Funeral of René Angélil


The Family: A Radiating Influence

René Angélil's life was a tapestry woven with encounters: encounters within the Angélil family and within the Dion family, encounters with friends and with partners from the world of art and culture, encounters with the general public and within society, encounters with sick children and with the disadvantaged.

All of you, who are taking part in this time set aside to remember, to pray and to offer support, have put your activities and daily commitments aside, to be part of this meaningful encounter marked by fragility and love, pain and hope. During this time of reflection, all those who have been touched by René Angélil, who appreciated him, held him in high esteem and loved him come to mind. I think especially of those he cherished most in his life: his wife, his children, the people with whom he had been closest in the past and now.

We are invited to enter the mystery of an encounter with God, as though we could perceive the invisible, as though we could see beyond our existence, see life beyond death, and see life beyond this life. On the night before his death, Jesus raised his eyes to heaven in order to sharpen his focus on the Eternal Father. He sought His face, his gaze, for in an encounter, is it not necessary for both parties to gaze upon each other? Jesus wants to reveal God's Infinite Love to the world, and just when sin, suffering and death appeared to have the upper hand, he met his Father's gaze, which was filled with His Love for him, and with the Love that He has for all humanity.

We ourselves can draw closer to this gaze, for we experience it every time that a wife looks lovingly at her husband and a husband looks lovingly at his wife. Moreover, did we not begin our lives under the loving gazes of our parents, who told us from birth that our life was beautiful, a wonderful gift that made their hearts complete? Every time our mothers told us that we were the most beautiful babies in the world, they were telling us that our very existence was precious. The family is the best place for seeing ourselves through another's eyes, rich with esteem, and to learn to look upon others with love, humility and kindness.

Many aspects of our existence are important, but through the experience of our weaknesses and by conviction, we are called to learn the most important characteristic of family, a place that is intended to be life's greatest treasure as well as a school where humanity, patience, forgiveness and kindness are taught. The love that is experienced, received and given within a family, becomes the love that we carry with us throughout our lives. It becomes the love, respect and generosity that shine through and are expressed in our friendships, our commitments and in the world in which we live.

Dear members of René's family, during this time of mourning his death, you are receiving signs of friendship and support from Montreal, Quebec, and Canada, and from the entire world. There is no greater suffering than that of the loss of a loved one, and, from the bottom of our hearts, we offer you our deepest sympathies. When Jesus prayed on the night before he suffered and died, the Gospel speaks of a passage, of death becoming a passage. He who died and rose again, opened the path to eternal life for us. He came to us in this world so that we could go to God in the Kingdom of Eternal Love.

To speak of building a better world, we must speak of humanity as a family. To speak of God's love, the Bible speaks to us of the family of God's children. As death could not prevent Jesus from rising again, by praying for your loved one and expressing your pain to the Lord, nothing can prevent Jesus from providing balm for your hearts.

Death is not the end of life or of love. The emptiness and pain of René's absence can open the way to have hope. God takes the time to encounter us, to encounter each person, for he wills us into life and wants to bring us together in His Infinite and Eternal Love.

+ Christian Lépine
Archbishop of Montreal

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