Preface V 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.

Our resurrection through the victory of Christ

Paul teaches us that Christ’s Resurrection goes way beyond simple restoration and resuscitation: “For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him” (Romans 6:9). Sin seeks our death, because death for sin is its victory. Sin thought it was victorious over Our Lord in leading him to his death, but, as Paul also teaches us, “Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54). When death tried to devour Our Lord it got more than it bargained for: a serious case of indigestion where the hunter became the hunted. Paul here is quoting Isaiah’s prophecy: “[The Lord] will swallow up death for ever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 25:8).

“For even though by our own fault we perish, yet by your compassion and your grace, when seized by death according to our sins, we are redeemed through Christ’s great victory, and with him called back into life.”

Going under the waters of Baptism symbolizes us being plunged into death, just as coming up from those waters symbolizes us being called back into new life. No one avoids the jaws of physical death forever. As the saying goes, someone who barely survives a life-threatening experience is said to have been “snatched from the jaws of death.” St. John in the book of Revelation describes a “second death”: being separated from the Lord for all eternity (see Revelation 2:11; 20:6,14; 21:8). A consequence of sin is not only that we will experience physical death, but also that we’ll be seized by the jaws of this second death. Our Lord, if we believe in him, snatches us from the jaws of the second death and makes those jaws unable to threaten us ever again.

Just as Our Lord on the third day was called back into life on Easter morning we too, one day, will be called back into life, raised bodily so that we can live in him and with him forever. He didn’t have to snatch us from the jaws of the second death; he chose to do so out of love for us.

Just as someone floundering while learning to swim needs to grab onto someone or something to stay afloat and moving, in this life we tread the waters and avoid drowning in the sin and death that inundates our fallen world by clinging to Our Lord. He’s a strong swimmer and we have not only a lot to learn from him, but also someone we can hold onto when the currents start to wear us out. Let’s cling to Christ and he will keep us afloat call us back into life.

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