All Souls’ Day

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On a day when the vapid celebrity of someone who seems to be genuinely unpleasant, sexist and self-obsessed (Russell Brand) is expertly exposed by Quentin Letts, The Knife found himself  considering the diametric opposite.

They are women who have had long lives utterly dedicated to others, whose simple graves lie in the small and beautiful cemetery in the picture. These are the Little Sisters of the Poor, whose lives are devoted to the practical care of the impoverished sick and elderly. In the cemetery the most recent four graves’ occupants died aged 87, 89, 94 and 97. One had over 70 years of service.

It’s All Souls’ Day today. Anyone who has lost someone would – perhaps even if you’re Richard Dawkins – like to think that the deceased is now in a better place, to use the cliche.

For every Russell Brand figure, there is a small army of people like these nuns, helping those whose lives are ebbing away, who offer practical help and prayers, in the knowledge that when they die, others will pray for them. It’s the least we can do, and the best.

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