Over the 10 years that I have been Pastor of Holy Faith, I have presided over at least 300 funerals. One might think that conducting so many funerals would be depressing. I certainly share the sorrow of families who have a loved one who has died. The funeral we had this past week was particularly sad; it was the funeral of a 19 year old young man who died in an accident. As I spent time with his grieving parents and grandmother, I deeply felt their sorrow, and carried it with me to prayer, especially as I had first met this boy when he was 9 years old and watched him grow to a fine young man.
I do not find doing these funerals depressing, however, for just as I try to help strengthen the faith of the grieving, I find that my faith also gets strengthened as I recall the hope of Resurrection and everlasting life.
We, of course, grieve when one we love dies and will not be with us anymore in this life; but for those who "die in Christ," our faith assures us that after any needed purification, those believers will enter into heaven. For them this is joy. The Catechism says that "Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness." (#1024) We can only imagine what "supreme happiness" is like and what it means to have all human longings fulfilled!
I preached at the funeral for that young man on Thursday about Jesus who speaks a word of peace in our storms. This Gospel passage is so meaningful:
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.