By Father Paul Sullivan
Pastor, Sacred Heart Catholic Church
When someone dies, it can serve as a sobering reminder that we won’t be on earth together forever with our loved ones. For those left to mourn, it underscores how temporary our life here is. As Catholics, we are blessed with a powerful way to grieve the loss of a loved one during this painful time of loss and contemplation: The Catholic Funeral Rite.
In our faith, the anguish of death and the loss of a loved one is not something we run from. When we gather together as a community during the Catholic Funeral Rite, we’re offering the greatest prayer we ever could — that of Jesus, who by His sacrifice on the Cross, frees us from sin and death. We find consolation in His love and life that, as Scripture says, the darkness could not overcome.
Nowhere is this more apparent than when we commend our loved one to God during the funeral Mass. At this moment, we’re not just reflecting on the past and remembering the life the deceased lived. We’re looking forward to the fullness of eternal life, as Scripture tells us to do. This important ritual is an exercise in hope and a potent salve for our souls.
We can also find comfort in our Catholic cemeteries. In these sacred spaces, we lay our loved ones to rest during the Rite of Committal, as Jesus was lovingly placed in the tomb after His Crucifixion. This is the final Corporal Work of Mercy we can offer, and it is an act of love that endures.
“As Catholics, we are blessed with a powerful way to grieve the loss of a loved one during this painful time of loss and contemplation: The Catholic Funeral Rite.”
If we believe in eternal life, then we know the resurrection of the dead will be the reunion of the glorified body and soul. When we visit the cemetery to pray for our loved ones in their final resting place, we acknowledge this mystery. Through this act, we remain connected to those for whom life has changed, not ended.
I often think of St. Benedict, who reminded us to keep death before our eyes each day. In the end, when we embrace death as part of life, we are inviting the blessings of hope, peace and Jesus’s undying love into our hearts.
Contact Catholic Cemeteries and Funeral Homes at (602) 267-3962 or at dopccfh.org.