BURY THE DEAD

Reflection

By Msgr. Charles Pope

Most of us are not gravediggers or funeral directors, but many—if not all—of us have had the challenging, sometimes unpredictable, and emotionally draining job of burying the dead.

If burying the dead is so agonizing, why do we do it?

WHEN WE BURY THE DEAD, WE HONOR THOSE WHO HAVE PASSED AWAY.

Every person was created in the image and likeness of God for a specific purpose. Whether the CEO of a major corporation, a stay-at-home mom, a pre-school teacher, or a drug addict, every human being matters and deserves to be treated with dignity, even in death.

We can honor our loved ones and their legacies with wakes, funerals, and proper Christian burials—services where we share stories and reflect on the impact they had on each of us. These memorials also provide closure; the opportunity to say goodbye to a person’s physical presence in our lives. Another way to honor the deceased is to visit cemeteries and leave flowers at their gravesites.

WHEN WE BURY THE DEAD, WE PRAY FOR THOSE WHO HAVE PASSED AWAY.

Every person is more than just a physical being—we are souls who await eternal life in heaven. And some of us have to wait longer than others.

Every person is more than just a physical being—we are souls who await eternal life in heaven. And some of us have to wait longer than others.

Wakes, funerals, and Christian burials provide the opportunity to begin praying for the dead. But we can—and should—continue offering prayers for our loved ones in the days, weeks, and years that follow. A great way is to go to Mass on the anniversary of your loved one’s death and offer up your Mass for their soul.

WHEN WE BURY THE DEAD, WE OFFER COMFORT AND SUPPORT TO THOSE WHO ARE GRIEVING.

As Allen mentioned in today’s video, Richard and Debbie drove eight hours to attend Allen’s father’s funeral. Richard and Debbie had never met Allen’s father, and they weren’t even close friends with Allen and his wife. But Richard and Debbie understood the importance of comforting and supporting people when loved ones die.

You can console people by going to wakes and funerals, praying for people who are mourning the loss of a loved one, sending sympathy cards, offering to cook a meal, and letting people know you are thinking about them on the anniversary of a loved one’s death. People need to know they are not alone.

Yes, burying the dead is challenging, sometimes unpredictable, and emotionally draining, but it’s an act of mercy acknowledging that people and their lives mattered—and still matter, even in death.

Focus

We were not made for this world; we were made for heaven.

Act

Determine one actionable way to live out this work of mercy, whether it is calling or sending a note to someone who has lost a loved one, visiting the grave of someone you have lost, offering a Mass for someone who has died, or even helping someone prepare to die well.

Pray

Lord, help me to realize that we all have only one soul, only one death to die, only one life, and only one glory, which is eternal. (Inspired on Saint Teresa of Avila)

QUESTION

How have you seen the power of prayer?


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