What is the meaning of death for Catholics? Some possible answers: hope for eternal life, a return to the Father’s house, an encounter with infinite love, the ecstasy of finally seeing the face of Jesus, the fulfillment of the promise of the resurrection. All of that is true and that is why the saints yearned for death and prepared themselves in advance for this encounter with God. Who does not want to experience peace, forgiveness, the purest and most merciful love … who does not want to live in heaven near the Father? It is Jesus himself, as always, who teaches us by example that death is temporary, that the sadness of his departure, which the Apostles experienced was unnecessary. Indeed, if they had known how quickly they were going to see Jesus again, they would never have felt such profound sorrow. Jesus not only returned, but brought with him the Holy Spirit, the divine breath of life to share with them and renew them. The hours of sadness were actually few in number and very quickly the women once again encountered Jesus at the place where he had been buried.
We all experience, however, the death of a loved one, and not only is pain inevitable, but it is a pain that burns, embraces, oppresses the chest, cuts the breath, reduces energy, and for a time, changes the perspective of the world around us. How many family members, friends, acquaintances have died during this pandemic? The stories about those who have died seem to be endless … and there also appears to be little relief and comfort. But sooner or later, a certain calmness returns, air returns to the body, the mourning process becomes a healing process. If we have had the misfortune to lose a loved one, let us not put sadness aside, rather let us continue to live with this sadness and allow healing to come at its own pace. Let us also focus on the teaching of Jesus: the resurrection will soon come and we will see our loved ones again. Indeed, we will share eternal life with them … and as a consequence, we are actually separated from our loved ones for a rather brief period of time. Furthermore, those who have died are in the best place, surrounded by the brightest light and the greatest love possible. Our faith will transform mourning into joy. Therefore, let us never forget that we are created in the image and likeness of God and the divine spark, which is within each one of us, naturally seeks to be united with the one who created us.
Let us ask for the strength and comfort of the Holy Spirit! Let us live this Holy Week focused on the Resurrection, which is a unique characteristic of our faith! Indeed, the resurrection is our hope and joy and that is why Easter Sunday is the most important feast of the year!
Erika Warnholtz C.