|Posted by Fr. Matt on June 20, 2013 at 5:35 PM|
Fr. Matt’s Corner: ... and God has visited his people ...
Greetings to all of you, my sisters and brothers in Christ. Whether it be in Zarephath, Naim, Pembine, or Niagara, the reality of death confronts us all. A great big part of the Good News that our faith proclaims to us is that while death is real, it need not be final. Rather, as foreshadowed by today’s scriptures, the Lord Jesus will restore the life breath to us if we give ourselves over to Him.
Elijah says to the widow of Zarephath: Give me your son. Jesus says to the widow of Naim: Do not weep. Where there is God, there is hope – even in death. That’s why it’s very important for us not to lose hope (and, at the same time, not to presume) when death comes for you or me or one of ours. Each person – every one of us – is created to live forever with the Lord. That’s why it’s very important to continue to treat one another with profound reverence and respect throughout life and into death. When someone we love is near death, it is vital for us to do for them what the Lord asks of us: Give me your son.
In our case, that means call for a priest to administer the last Sacraments for him or her. It also means offering the best that the Church has to offer for those who have died. This has absolutely nothing to do with monetary things (coffins and all the other fees associated with funerals). Rather, it has everything to do with offering a funeral Mass – which costs nothing – (with the related rites) for the person who has died. The sacrifice of the Mass – during which Jesus offers His Body and Blood on the altar of the Cross for the salvation of our souls (and bodies) – is the one most important action in which we can partake to help our loved ones on their way into the next life.
Of course, it’s also a good and necessary thing to help each other through the process of grieving and saying goodbye to our loved ones. That’s why it’s also best to have a vigil service the evening before the funeral Mass – a time for people to gather, cry, laugh, hug, and share stories and memories in the context of the Church’s prayer and faith in God. The third and final stage of the Church’s funeral rites occurs at the graveside – as God offers that sense of both closure and hope in eternal life for loved ones left behind.
I encourage you to discuss these things with your family and loved ones before a time of crisis occurs. Begin to envision together the 3-fold rites of the Christian Funeral: Vigil the night before, Funeral Mass, and Committal Service as a way of both giving and receiving the love and support of one another, as well as doing the critically important work of giving a loved one to the Lord. Through all this, may we see that God has visited his people!
Peace to all of you, my friends, this Holy Day, and to all who love the Lord in simplicity of heart,
Categories: Fr. Matt's weekly article