Br Raymond Hynes OFM
FUNERAL MASS OF BR RAYMOND HYNES OFM
3rd January 2024
(The Scripture readings of the Mass were Romans 8:14-23, and John 5:24-29)
I think that what we suffer in this life can never be compared to the glory, as yet unrevealed, which is waiting for us. Rom 8:18
Paul is speaking about the sufferings endured on his mission of preaching Christ e.g. 2 Cor 11:24ff – the 39 lashings (5 times), beating with sticks (3 times), being shipwrecked, danger at sea, danger from rivers, from brigands .. nights without sleep, hungry, thirsty, cold and lacking clothing – plus the pressure of his anxiety for the churches
Our sufferings are generally not of this nature, but the words can be applied to the sufferings we endure, such as sickness, lacking necessities of life, etc. We know that Raymond had a considerable amount of suffering over his lifetime, and also that he learnt from his own sufferings to feel the sufferings of others and empathise with people. One afternoon when I was visiting Raymond in Whipps Cross Hospital, his good friend Leon was there and he said to me he could tell that Raymond really felt the sufferings of people, and they knew it.
I believe that it would not be untrue to say that he learned to feel the sufferings of others though his own experience of illness and health issues. I remember his speaking once about his early years, in which he would experience recurrent bouts of an illness that no one seemed to understand. He would be off school, and sometimes in hospital. It was in his adult years, when he had come to work in London, and when he was ill, that a doctor diagnosed the coeliac condition, an allergic reaction to gluten in various foods. From then on he was able to control the condition by diet, which he did strictly for the rest of his years, for instance, by baking his own bread.
I lived with Raymond in the hermitage community with the Capuchin friars in North Wales. This was in the 1990’s, and there were few gluten-free products on the market then. One of the earliest seemed to be baked beans! We took it in turns to cook the meals, and we had to be careful to avoid wheat, oats, barley and rye when cooking – this list is still impressed on my memory! For many years he would bake three loaves of bread every week, so the friary where he lived would be filled with the wholesome aroma of newly-baked bread on baking days. I remember he’d say the bread made with gluten-free flour was very dry, so he’d mash a banana and mix that with the dough!
We could say of Raymond that throughout his life as a friar, and also before he entered the order in 1974, that he walked alongside people in their sufferings, as a quiet, gentle, reliable brother and friend. The list of his various apostolates reveals this truth – over the years he worked with prisoners in Rochester and Canterbury, with alcoholics and drug addicts in Glasgow, and in different places with people who lived with special needs. He walked alongside men and women, young and old.
Our neighbours in Wales had two sons, both of them with special needs. Every Saturday afternoon, the older of these boys would come to the friary and announce his arrival not just by ringing the doorbell but by calling for Raymond through the letter box. Raymond would rush to the door and let him in, and then spend the afternoon with him. They might go for a walk, and usually they would take Henry for a walk around the house – Henry being the vacuum cleaner.
Someone described Raymond as reserved, but a good mixer despite his retiring nature. He was a man of prayer, and also of study, reading books of theology and spirituality, of which there are a good number in his room. Besides the interaction with people in the various places of need and suffering, Raymond often attended to the accounts of the different charitable organisations he worked with. He also looked after the petty cash and other accounts in some of the friaries, where he lived – not an enviable task! He helped care for the aged and infirm friars, here at Woodford and elsewhere. For a number of years, he assisted the Friar who was in charge of liaising with the Friars in the Holy Land, and he was involved in book-keeping for that ministry until he resigned as his health was failing a few years ago.
We’ll miss his faithful presence around the friary, just as I’m sure many will miss seeing him in the church here.
St Paul says that all of us who possess the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for our bodies to be set free. Raymond was faithful to the Lord through the illnesses and trials, and of course the joys of life, but he has been set free from his sufferings now that the Lord has called him to himself. We give thanks for his life and example, as we commend him with confidence to the loving mercy of God.