Ethan. Sonia. Danny. Jim. The older I get the longer the list becomes of loved ones who have returned home to our Lord with the passing of another year.

Carlton. Connie. Martha. Steve. As 2016 draws to a close, I find—like the author of Sirach recalling the great exploits of Elijah—that there can be consolation in naming aloud those who have gone before me. While they may not have ended long droughts, called a child back from the dead, or brought down a king the way Elijah did Ahab, there are graces to be enjoyed when we take time to remember the lives of our dearly departed.

The Messiah’s coming promises reconciliation and peace. Can I look for hints of these promises in the memories of those who fell asleep in the friendship of God this year? What a gratifying fire to build up and warm our hands around this Advent season!

—Joe Kraemer, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the California province, is studying philosophy at Fordham University.