DPPL 257: The Paschal Meaning of Death

STA altar at night smallWhat does death mean? How do pastoral ministers work with and serve people in grief and pain?

257. It is always necessary to ensure that popular piety is inspired by the principles of the Christian faith. Thus, they should be made aware of the paschal meaning of the death undergone by those who have received Baptism and who have been incorporated into the mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ (cf. Rm 6,3-10); the immortality of the soul (cf Lk 23, 43); the communion of Saints, through which “union with those who are still on their pilgrim journey with the faithful who repose in Christ is not in the least broken, but strengthened by a communion of spiritual goods, as constantly taught by the Church” (Lumen Gentium 49):”our prayer for them is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us effective” (Catechism 958); the resurrection of the body; the glorious coming of Christ, who will “judge the living and the dead” (DS 150; Roman Missal Creed); the reward given to each according to his deeds; life eternal.


The link of the believer to Christ is well-established in the New Testament (even beyond these two citations above). Paul preached we are joint heirs with Christ. The Nicene Creed emphasizes our relationship with the dead as part of the essence of traditional Christian faith.

The Church is concerned about practices that might be contrary to the paschal character of the final things, or move against what we know as Christians to be true of the Risen Lord.

Deeply rooted cultural elements connoting particular anthropological concepts are to be found among the customs and usages connected with the “cult of the dead” among some peoples. These often spring from a desire to prolong family and social links with the departed. Great caution must be used in examining and evaluating these customs. Care should be taken to ensure that they are not contrary to the Gospel. Likewise, care should be taken to ensure that they cannot be interpreted as pagan residues.

The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy is online at the Vatican site.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, post-conciliar liturgy documents. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to DPPL 257: The Paschal Meaning of Death

  1. FrMichael says:

    Very appropriate paragraph. In the multicultural parishes of California, parish priests deal with all sorts of cultural elements regarding death that have varying degrees of concordance with the Gospel.

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