The final theme of Chapter Six examines the end of life. How Christians deal with the issues of loss, grief, prayer, and the after life will occupy us for the next several posts. Let’s get into the read:
253. At times family life is challenged by the death of a loved one. We cannot fail to offer the light of faith as a support to families going through this experience.(Relatio Finalis 2015, 20) To turn our backs on a grieving family would show a lack of mercy, mean the loss of a pastoral opportunity, and close the door to other efforts at evangelization.
A lot of clergy and liturgy people stiffen when approached with requests that … stretch our worship sensibilities. The funeral Mass might suffer some damage, but often it is the minister’s sense of rightness that comes head-to-head with mourners who, in some way, are trying to express their loss.
A reminder that Jesus mourned at the death of Lazarus:
254. I can understand the anguish felt by those who have lost a much-loved person, a spouse with whom they have shared so much. Jesus himself was deeply moved and began to weep at the death of a friend (cf. Jn 11:33, 35).
From an address of Pope Francis last year:
And how can we even begin to understand the grief of parents who have lost a child? “It is as if time stops altogether: a chasm opens to engulf both past and future”, and “at times we even go so far as to lay the blame on God. How many people – I can understand them – get angry with God”.(Catechesis (17 June 2015))
That question: how can we begin to understand? Sometimes we don’t. And we don’t try. Accompanying people, being an ally of a mourner who is angry with God. God seems big enough to withstand human anger. Best to side with a mourner, I think. All alone with one’s grief against an almighty Deity seems daunting enough.
“Losing one’s spouse is particularly difficult… From the moment of enduring a loss, some display an ability to concentrate their energies in a greater dedication to their children and grandchildren, finding in this experience of love a renewed sense of mission in raising their children…. Those who do not have relatives to spend time with and to receive affection from, should be aided by the Christian community with particular attention and availability, especially if they are poor”.(Relatio Finalis 2015, 19)
And so the parish community has a role, too. Not just luncheons after a final farewell, but affection and true friendship.
For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.