Wednesday, November 02, 2011
Prayer for the dead is one of the things that attracted me to the Catholic Church. Like so much about the Church, it just made sense. We need help, both Divine and human, to live the life of Faith here on Earth. We are not perfect and cannot be perfect. Few people die perfectly united to God. Without Purgatory, I would despair at the possibility of my own salvation. But we have it and have had it from Apostolic times. Christians have always prayed for the dead. It is part of our work as Christians; to aid and support our brothers in Christ on the other side of the veil.
It is definitely not something that fits in well with the Modern (or Modernist) mindset. The "loving thing" is assume that everyone is in Heaven. After all, God is forgiving and all merciful. There may be a Hell, but it is empty of humans. How many funerals do we hear this at? I have heard it a lot. (Even from preachers that wear miters.) It is a nice thought, but it does not jibe with reality. God is merciful, but also just and He respects our free will. He will not force His forgiveness and out sanctification on us. So yes, I think people do go to Hell and many of those who don't stand in need of purification before they are able to stand before the Face of God.
Black Vestments express this reality rather well. And that is exactly why the 'with it' crowd doesn't like them. They buy into Universalism. Black Vestments express both the human and Divine realities surrounding death. They respect the human need to mourn even with the sure and certain hope in the Resurrection of the Dead. They also respect the uncertainty and pious fear of the soul before the Divine Judge. Yes, violet works for this too, but I am a Latin traditionalist and love the black. White is just presumptuous.
And while we are at it, can we rework the Order of Christian Burial to better reflect orthodox theology?
Posted by Fr. Erik Richtsteig at 9:20 PM