So there we have it!!
Paragraph 1680 says, “All the sacraments, and principally those of Christian initiation, have as their goal the last Passover of the child of God which, through death, leads him into the life of the Kingdom.”
THAT IS AMAZING!!
It is not a shock for all of us who know Scripture and who know what Baptism is
St. Paul said, “Those of you who are baptized in his life are baptized into his death.”
It was through Baptism into death that we actually share and participate in God’s Eternal Life
The sacraments of Christian initiation are oriented towards reminding us and participating in the death of Christ so that we can participate in the Resurrection of Jesus
Let’s listen to Fr. Mike’s story about his nephew, Max, and his niece, Molly…
We bear the Sign of the Cross on our foreheads from early on in our lives when we were Baptized
We bear that Sign of the Cross through the rest of our lives into Eternal Life
Remember, the Cross is the symbol of death
The Cross is a symbol of destruction
The Cross is the capital punishment of Jesus
The Cross is the execution of Jesus
The Cross is a sign of suffering
The Cross is a sign of sin
The Cross is a sign of brokenness
The Cross has been TRANSFORMED into being a sign of HOPE
We are marked with the Sign of the Cross in the sacraments
We are marked by the death of Jesus in the sacraments
Our lives are going to be marked by death
Our lives are going to be marked by suffering
Our lives are going to be marked by pain and sickness
Our lives will be marked by struggle
So when we are marked with the Sign of the Cross, it is not just the sign of struggle, or the sign of sin
It is the sign of HOPE
Here is how Jesus embraced His Cross
Jesus was conquered by His Cross and then He conquered His Cross
Jesus was conquered by His Cross and led to His death
Then He conquered death and was raised to life
Everything we do is oriented towards that last moment
Everything we do is oriented towards that moment we step from this life into Eternal Life
Paragraph 1680 continues, “Then what he confessed in faith and hope will be fulfilled: ‘I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.’”
Do we actually look forward to this?
That is the big question
Do we truly look forward not only to the resurrection of the dead, where all the dead will rise, but do we look forward to the moment of our own deaths?
In order to rise from the dead, we have to die
Do we look forward to that?
The real meaning of Christian death is revealed in the light of the Paschal Mystery of the death and Resurrection of Jesus
The Christian meaning of death is revealed when we look at how Jesus died
Yes, it was marked by grief and struggle
Jesus sweat blood in the Garden of Gethsemane
Jesus says, “Father, take this cup from me.”
It’s not a matter of being impassive or stoic in the face of death
Jesus is fully alive and even He didn’t want to die
Jesus embraced His Cross with FAITH AND TRUST in His Father
Jesus was led through that embrace, that suffering, that Cross, into death, past death, through death, into life
This is the Christian meaning of death
This is one of the reasons this last section is all about funerals
One of the things that too many of us forget is that we think that the funeral is like a celebration of life
Fr. Mike is talking about his mom now…try not to cry…
The funeral Mass is not a celebration of life
We are celebrating the Mass to offer the sacrifice of the Eucharist to the Father in the Son by the Power of the Holy Spirit for the purification and the sake of the person who died
Paragraph 1688 says, “The homily in particular must ‘avoid the literary genre of funeral eulogy’ and illumine the mystery of Christian death in the light of the risen Christ.”
It’s not about what the person did in their life and all their successes etc.
The homily invites the congregation to pray on behalf of the person who is in the casket
THAT IS THE REALITY!!
It is one of the reasons why the funeral Mass is so important
Most likely, the person who has passed away NEEDS OUR PRAYERS
Most likely, the person whose funeral it is, even if they died in friendship with the Lord, in a state of grace, they will still need the Mass to be offered up for them for that purification of the consequences of their sins
Paragraph 1689 says, “In the Eucharist, the Church expresses her efficacious communion with the departed: offering to the Father in the Holy Spirit the sacrifice of the death and resurrection of Christ, she asks to purify his child of his sins and their consequences, and to admit him to the Paschal fullness of the table of the Kingdom.”
IT IS SO SO VITAL!!
That’s one of the reasons why not only is it important to be at the funeral Mass, to offer up that sacrifice, but it is also important to ask for masses to be offered on behalf of the dead
We have an intention for each Mass
If you have someone you love who has passed away, contact your parish and ask if a Mass could be offered or even multiple masses could be offered for the sake of their soul
We can’t stop death
There is nothing we can do
It is easy to feel incredibly powerless
As Catholics, we are not powerless
WE CAN STILL PRAY!!
We can pray Rosaries for the dead
We can pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for the dead
We can pray the Stations of the Cross for the dead
We can have Mass offered for the dead
That is an incredibly efficacious way to help them especially when we feel powerless in the face of death
Or maybe there was a lack of reconciliation with that person that died
Maybe we didn’t love them well when they were alive
We can have a lot of regret and remorse for that
That is normal
We can also translate that and transform that into PRAYER
We can transform that into DOING SOMETHING
We can love them well NOW by having the Mass offered for them
We can love them well NOW by offering the Rosary for them
We can love them well NOW by offering all those other sacramentals and devotions on their behalf
WE ARE NOT EVER POWERLESS!!
The funeral rites given to us by the Church are a sign of God’s power
We get to participate in His power
Paragraph 1685 says, “The different funeral rites express the Paschal character of Christian death and are in keeping with the situations and traditions of each region, even as to the color of the liturgical vestments worn.”
Black or white vestments can be worn at a funeral
Fr. Mike’s mom wanted black vestments to be worn to remind everyone to pray for her
Funerals are not a celebration of life
They are a PRAYER
We offer worship to the Father on behalf of the soul of the one who has died
In some cultures in Asia, white is the color of mourning
One of the Corporal Works of Mercy is to bury the dead
This goes back to the Book of Tobit
Even though he was exiled away from the Promised Land in Assyria, he could still bury his dead brothers and sisters in Judaism
Those people who serve the Church by the ministry of taking care of the dead…
Those people in parishes who put on the funeral lunch or serve at funeral Mass…
They are the people who accompany the family or even work in funeral homes
They are all doing a great act, a great work of charity, a work of mercy
We get to be part of that too every time we pray for the dead
We do this with HOPE
Yes, our hearts can be broken
WE DO THIS WITH HOPE!!
St. Simeon of Thessalonica says in Paragraph 1690, “By this final greeting ‘we sing for his departure from this life and separation from us, but also because there is a communion and a reunion. For even dead, we are not at all separated from one another, because we all run the same course and we will find one another again in the same place. We shall never be separated, for we live for Christ, and now we are united with Christ as we go toward him…we shall all be together in Christ.’”
That can be such a powerful moment
We know this person is dead, but as we walk away, their body is lowered into the Earth
There is the goodbye at death
In the Holy Sacrifice of the Eucharist and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we are participating in the great worship of Heaven and our loved ones who are in Heaven, God willing
We get to participate in the exact same event, just in different ways
We see each other in the Eucharist
Whether in this life and we are just separated
In this life and the next
WE WILL ALWAYS SEE EACH OTHER IN THE EUCHARIST!!
Fr. Mike is praying FOR YOU!!
Please pray for Fr. Mike and for each other!!
I cannot WAIT to see you tomorrow!!