Preface II for the Dead

For more information on prefaces in general, see The Eucharistic Prayer (2) and The Eucharistic Prayer (3)

This preface is used in Masses for the dead, such as funerals, anniversaries of death, and All Soul’s Day.

Christ died so that we might live

Imagine if you were on death row, awaiting your execution, and the warden unlocked your cell and said, “you’re free to go, the judge has accepted someone else’s execution in your place.” You were guilty, and the man who was executed in your place was innocent. You don’t have to imagine that scenario; you lived it. We all did.

Saint Paul teaches us, “sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned… Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come” (Romans 5:12,14). Original Sin brought a death sentence to us all, whether committed, in the case of Adam and Eve, or contracted, in the case of us. The “one who was to come” is the New Adam: Jesus Christ.

“For as one alone he accepted death, so that we might all escape from dying; as one man he chose to die, so that in your sight we all might live for ever.”

Our Lord freed us from “death row.” Saint Paul teaches us that dying for someone godly is hard enough, much less dying for the ungodly (see Romans 5:6-11). Our Lord did exactly that. We were guilty, and he was innocent. Thanks to his selflessness, sacrifice, and love, death was overthrown by grace and eternal life: “…as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous. … so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:18-19,21).

We still suffer physical death, just as Our Lord did, but now, in Christ, something new has been added to the mix: the grace of eternal life, beyond physical death. Our Father in Heaven would not let his Son die unjustly and forever, and, Our Lord, if we believe in him, will not let that happen to us either. Let’s die to ourselves in Christ so that we may also truly live in him.

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