Most of us don’t like to talk about death, even though from childhood this reality is in the back of our minds. As a result of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, God assures us that He is not through with us when we die. Jesus’ Resurrection assures us that as we continue to abide in Him and grow in His love, we too will be raised from the dead to live with Him and with all who have loved Him forever. This is an expression of the Faith to which we are called to bear witness in the way that we relate to death and to living in this world.
We have the opportunity to witness to our Faith as we face death in ways such as the following: 1) by purchasing our graves or sites for our cremated remains before we die –
What a powerful opportunity this matter offers for parents to bear witness to our Faith to your children as they grow up. Doing this offers a teachable occasion for parents to share with your children our belief in the Resurrection of the Body. 2) While the Church allows for cremation when we die, the burial of our bodies is preferred. Choosing burial offers a distinctive opportunity to witness to our belief in the Resurrection of the Body. If we do choose cremation, the Church insists that we express the same kind of reverential respect for the cremated remains as would be shown toward the body of the deceased. It is gravely wrong and disrespectful to the person who has died to keep her/his cremated remains in our homes or to have the cremated remains dispersed in the air, in a body of water, in a field or in any other way. 3) Hopefully, we will give serious consideration to being buried or to have our cremated remains reposed in a Catholic cemetery or in a Catholic section of a large non-Catholic cemetery. This practice enables us to give expression to the communal nature of our Faith. Both in life and in death, we belong to the Lord as members of His Body, the Church. 4) We are invited and encouraged to plan specific details of our funeral liturgy ahead of time. This offers another teachable moment with our loved ones. Let’s at least discuss with our family the Scripture Readings and hymns that we want to be used at our funeral liturgy. Funeral liturgy planning booklets and forms for indicating selections can be obtained from the office of each parish. 5) Insist on inviting people to participate in the Funeral Vigil Service within or around the visitation hours at the funeral home. A funeral Vigil Service offers an opportunity to sow seeds in regard to witnessing to our Faith. 6) Before we die, let’s INSIST to our family members that we have the Funeral Mass in our parish church. What a powerful opportunity this offers to witness to our Faith to all who would attend. As a non-Catholic at the time, I was really touched by the televised funeral liturgy that was celebrated in St. Patrick Cathedral in New York for Bobby Kennedy after his assassination. By insisting that our own funeral liturgy be celebrated in our parish church, we are allowing seeds to be sown in persons who attend. Who knows the spiritual harvest that can blossom forth as a result of doing this!
As we prepare for our own deaths in a proactive way in the light of our Lord’s Easter Victory, we are set free to embrace living in this world with all of its uncertainties in a confident and upbeat manner.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Nelson Beaver – Pastor