In honor of this week of Halloween, and remembering the departed, I will post about themes that deal with the battle of darkness versus light. This post’s theme: death.
What I always find deeply ironic is how many Christians I know are afraid of death, or feel sorry for someone who has died. Yet, there is a firm belief in Heaven. So what gives?
There is a deep attachment to our world that is not conducive to what Christians have faith in. Why would any Christian be worried about another Christian who has died? The only good reason to be worried is the answer to this question: will a person be granted access to Heaven, or has the person done unspeakable things and will go to hell for it? This question is reason enough for worry, nonetheless, I don’t run into people who are concerned with it. The concern about the dead tends to be placed about the tragedy over someone not living any longer, or the fact that we have to now live without the person.
These thoughts are not Christian. What is Christian is the certitude that there is an afterlife. It is Christian to hope that God’s mercy is deeper than anything we can imagine, and therefore, a soul does have a real chance of getting into heaven. To help that soul reach it’s destination, we pray for the soul.
I am not arguing against sorrow and mourning. In fact, I have seen how people have not properly recognized the importance of grieving. I have noticed when people are not sympathetic enough. They don’t offer consolation, but instead, empty statements. “It’s okay, it was her time to go.” “God works in mysterious ways.” “Don’t cry, everything will be ok.” Statements are not what people need in their time of distress. Presence, listening, and crying along with someone are some of the supports people need.
This simple reflection on death is more about recognizing how we understand it when we are not in distress. Why would a Christian think it is sad for someone to pass on into the afterlife? Is not the Christian message to the world that it is not trapped in a meaningless life cycle, but that we are given an opportunity to enter the Kingdom of Heaven through Christ?
Since there is an afterlife, Catholic theology promotes praying for those that have passed on as well as asking those who might be or certainly are in Heaven for help. That only makes sense if we can communicate with the dead. No, you don’t need to have supernatural powers or bust out magic to start talking to the dead. Prayer is already that special way to connect with those that have transitioned from this physical reality to the spiritual. It is that simple. Just don’t believe your going to get any concrete communication back…after all, it would freak you out.
St. Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthians, “O Death, where is your sting?”(1Cor 15:55) In the letter to the Romans, he goes on to further explain this crucial soteriology (theory of salvation; Rom 6). Christians do not need to fear death or be saddened by it. It’s natural to feel that way, but alas, there is much to hope for!
Go, and celebrate with others this Good News: humanity no longer is a victim of death; death has been conquered, and we have the opportunity to make it a transitional event versus a final event of our life.
Related articles and activities
- “What Do Catholics Really Believe In? Death” (www.catholicmom.com)
- Join Catholics throughout the world to pray for the dead for nine days starting today until November 9th: say 1 Apostle’s Creed, 1 Our Father and this prayer:
God our Father,
Your power brings us to birth,
Your providence guides our lives,
and by Your command we return to dust.
Lord, those who die still live in Your presence,
their lives change but do not end.
I pray in hope for my family,
relatives and friends,
and for all the dead known to You alone.
In company with Christ,
Who died and now lives,
may they rejoice in Your kingdom,
where all our tears are wiped away.
Unite us together again in one family,
to sing Your praise forever and ever.