Parish Requiem Mass 2021

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

My Beloved in Christ Jesus, today we are assembled together in this Parish Requiem to pray for the dead. The practice of praying for the dead is as old as mankind, for every culture has tried to make sense of the apparent irremediable finality of physical death. If in nature the aim of all life is to live, then physical death would seem to say that the struggle is futile, hopeless, like we are governed by a dark and twisted jokester forever luring us with a shiny jewel that he keeps just out of reach. Moreover, mankind has treated the boundary between life and death either as an unbreachable chasm or wall or, as in Greek mythology, as a river that robs the sojourner of any memories of his past life. The river may be traversable; but the sojourner’s many loves, struggles, accomplishments, indeed everything that gives him his unique identity, are taken off of him as if they were never really his. For the ancient Greek, death is a reminder that our lives are not our own, and even the pantheon of gods cannot reverse that. Indeed, if even the gods cannot reverse the finality of death, then it is apparent that for ancient man the god above all of the other gods is death itself. The universe seems to be governed by it, and by all accounts there seems to be no greater authority or power on earth or in man’s imagination. No wonder the Gnostics imagine that the universe had been created by a dark angels, a Demiurge, who is intent in making us mad and giving us over to despair.

Christ Jesus reverses all of this. His Resurrection shows that ancient man’s submission to this cult of death itself had been premised on a lie. The lie is not that sin leads to death, for it does. Rather, the lie is that death is insurmountable because it is in the end more powerful than life. Satan has been trying to defeat mankind by instilling in him the illusion that his life is hopeless, his end is despair, his cries are unheard. Christ Jesus has shown us all that this is not true. He is the living proof that life is more powerful than death. We can pray for the dead in Christ Jesus with the certainty in our hearts and in our minds that those prayers are heard and that all lives, those who are alive with us now in our world, and those who have passed to the afterlife, are remembered and loved by His Father. In Christ Jesus, the question is no longer whether souls persist after physical death. Rather, the question is whether souls before and after death are choosing to love God as much as He loves them, or choosing instead to succumb to their own self-destructive obsession and insular despair. The once insurmountable boundary between life and death has been wiped away in Our Lord’s sacrifice on the Cross and in his Resurrection and Ascension into His Father’s glory. As Christians, when we pray for the dead, as we are doing in this Parish Requiem, we are also praying with the dead, and the faithful in Christ Jesus who are already dead are praying with us. St. Clement of Alexandria explains that “the true Christian is always pure in prayer. For he also prays in the society of angels, as being already of the angelic rank, and he is never out of their holy keeping. And though he prays alone, he has the choir of the saints standing with him in prayer.” The Requiem Mass is a prayer for the dead and with the dead. It is dark and solemn, for in our fallen world the wages of sin, physical death, cannot yet be avoided. Christ Jesus has not yet returned in glory, and until that time physical death will be with us still. Nevertheless, the more we grow in faith in Our Lord, and the more we take on His life, the more we shall be able to see beyond the blackness of the Requiem. For when we are finally and fully alive in Christ Jesus, we shall see only the light and the love of divine glory. In that we may have hope. For that we may remain steadfast. Let us pray with the faithful, those alive with us here and those who are alive in heaven, that we may obtain that grace by which we can see passed the dark shroud of death to the living God calling us unto Him and His life.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Published by Michael Sean Erickson

I write, act, and produce films in Los Angeles. Everything else is conjecture.

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