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Preface I for the Dead
This preface is used in Masses for the dead, such as funerals, anniversaries of death, and All Soul’s Day.
The hope of resurrection in Christ
When you lose someone you love it leaves a hole in your life that nothing else can fill, no matter what your philosophy or creed. Christian hope does not fill in that hole, but it eases the sadness of losing a loved with the knowledge that death does not have the last word for those who believe in Our Lord. Our separation by death with those we love does not last forever. Life lasts forever, and, as the preface says, “life is changed not ended.”
“In Him, the hope of blessed resurrection has dawned, that those saddened by the certainty of dying might be consoled by the promise of immortality to come. Indeed for your faithful, Lord, life is changed not ended, and, when this earthly dwelling turns to dust, an eternal dwelling is made ready for them in heaven.”
The Book of Wisdom states well how disconcerting death can be for those without faith: “the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them. In the eyes of the foolish, they seemed to have died, and their departure was thought to be an affliction, and their going forth from us to be their destruction; but they are at peace. For though in the sight of men they were punished, their hope is full of immortality” (Wisdom 3:1-4). These words are often used as the First Reading in Masses for the Dead.
In the eyes of the world death strikes someone down after a successful or failed life, seemingly disaster in either scenario. Death is a disaster; it came into the world with sin, from the moment Cain slew Abel, and has loomed starkly over our hopes and expectations ever since. Our Lord’s Resurrection shines a light in the pitch black of death. It shows a new life dawning for those who believe in him, just beyond the trial and suffering that death entails. The “earthly dwelling” of our world and our bodies will give way to a world and a body (in the Resurrection of the dead) that will never crumble or fade away. For believers, a place awaits beyond the pale of death that makes all they had to suffer worthwhile.
We’re still on this side of the curtain, and we all have loved ones beyond it. Let’s entrust them to Our Lord consoled by his promises and remembering, in faith, that upon death life is not ended, only changed.