“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. 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 of evangelization.” - Pope Francis (Amoris Laetitia, 253)
Each life includes death. This is obvious, but lack of consideration of the topic is part of the culture of some parts of the world, particularly the United States. Yet, death occurs. Living with an eye on our eternity is something people of faith are called to do. When we do in the light of faith, we can see clearly what is important in life. Much of our time is spent in all sorts of activities. Are these helping us grow in holiness? Do they cause us to love God and love neighbor in deeper and more profound ways? If our answer is no, then as apostles of Christ, it is time for us to reevaluate where and how we use our time on this side of life. The other side of life, eternity, will come very soon.
Pope Francis also invites people of faith to assist families who have experienced death. It is a prime pastoral and evangelization opportunity, not in a heavy-handed way, but in one that accompanies people in their time of grief and beyond. If they are distant from the community of faith, the death of someone in their family offers a space for compassion, love, and care by missionary disciples of Christ. Doing it right at the time of death is good but walking with families long beyond that time is true spiritual accompaniment.
May the Charity of Christ urge us on!
In God, the Infinite Love,