Amoris Laetitia 253-254: When Death Makes Us Feel Its Sting

amoris laetitia memeThe 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.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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7 Responses to Amoris Laetitia 253-254: When Death Makes Us Feel Its Sting

  1. Liam says:

    Unless someone is either a current or former parish staff member or someone who was highly visible in parish life, in US Catholicism the parish as such normally has an almost perfuctory role in accompanying the bereaved. Not anything remotely coming to the level of affection and true friendship – more like best wishes….

    • Todd says:

      It seems like most of our energy is directed to shalt-nots: eulogies, non-interned ashes, rosaries–efforts like that

      • Liam says:

        Well, the effective Golden Rule is inverted to become the Buddhist version: Do not do unto others as you would not have done unto yourself.

        Proscriptions are more readily “managed” by a legal frameset than prescriptions. So, as Catholic moral theology was refined through a more effectively juridical understanding of the sacrament of reconciliation, the results were somewhat predictable. Technically, omissions can be just as sinful as actions (Matthew 25:31-46 and all that). But it’s MUCH easier to analyze the nature of consent to an action than to an omission; so, when consent is a key prong in analysis, the effect is to frame things more prospectively than prescriptively. (This is where progressive Catholics often don’t understand how an emphasis on consent can have conservative practical effects.)

  2. Dick Martin says:

    Efforts at Evangelism; What does the Church have to offer? How do you console the grieved when their loved one passes When the Pope himself can’t answer the most asked question, “When you die do you KNOW you will spend eternity in heaven”? And He answers “No one knows”.The Catechism does not have a positive answer. Believing that you can still pray for the Dead or Indulgences or changing your destiny after death thru the non biblical ” purgatory”. The BIBLE is full of positive security of the believer. see 1 John 5:13. “you my know”

    • Todd says:

      I do not see “No one knows” in the text of AL 253-254. Your source, please?

      Also, people can certainly pray for the dead. Prayer is not a command God obeys of us. Prayer is a conversation with the Almighty. If one is not sure, one asks. People have always prayed for the dead; it cannot be stopped.

  3. Dick Martin says:

    Ephesians 1:13-14(NKJV)
    In Him ( Jesus) you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth,( The Word Of God) the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed (secure) with the Holy Spirit of promise,
    who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. ( POWERFUL ) isn’t it. Consoling for the bereaved.

    • Todd says:

      Sometimes words are consoling. Sometimes, it is the human touch, the human embrace, knowing one grieves with you for a beloved. Sometimes praying together is far more effective than turning to a manual or set of directions.

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