Fr Tim has an interesting post on death and funerals, he objects strongly to the “Death is nothing at all” nonsense. Interestingly he adds:
So many people today have an extra "guilt trip" shoved on their shoulders because they are told to think that it is somehow not right to mourn. The popular transformation of the funeral into "A celebration of the life of ..." distracts people from the opportunity to do the one thing that really helps those who have died: to pray for them.I think I have said much the same about Scott-Holland's poem and its absurd understanding of death myself.
The Assumption does of course tell us that “Death is nothing at all... I have only slipped next door”. But the Assumption is about the uniqueness of the Blessed Virgin and about Grace and about her constant choice to accept and co-operate with Grace and her total, chosen, submission to God’s will.
The Assumption also reminds us that “All”, except her, “have fallen short of the Grace of God”, she is the only exception but only by the Grace of her Immaculate Conception which causes her to be addressed by Gabriel as “full of Grace”, or as the lame duck Lectionary has it, “highly favoured”.
It is Grace alone that enables her to reach the highest heavens. Even the greatest saint won’t until attain that until after the Last Judgement, “when all is made new”. Even the Blessed, those who are judged “holy” and stand in the presence of God do not see him, yet, in their “flesh”, it is one of the important things relics tell us. For though we honour their bodies, the Saints are not in Heaven with their bodies, the Holy Virgin is the lone exception, they have to wait for the whole Church to be Glorified but until that time we are with them plodding on our pilgrim way.
When we die we will be judged, the Particular Judgement. Then God will decide whether Heaven or Hell is ours, and if it is Heaven, then God judges whether we are ready for it, or whether we need to be purified, and make restitution, in Purgatory. If we die in a state of serious sin, or outside of Christ, then Hell is certainly ours. Faith gives us hope but there is a vast difference between Faith and presumption.
It is fundamental Christian doctrine that Christ came to save us from separation from God, he alone is our Hope. Hell is not a medieval torture chamber but something far worst: the absence of God. Some early Christian described themselves as “the Alive” and those outside of Christ as the “the Dead”. It is that vital difference.
Fr Tim is speaking about is our confusion in the Church today at funerals, over eschatology, the “Last Things”. The dreadful thing is, I suspect, such confusion merely masks a further confusion(s) which is: what our Life is about and most importantly: what is Christ about. Does he have a purpose? Was the Atonement necessary or can we merely live without him?
Has Christ now become merely about quality of Life, offering vaguery that in some sense Life is nicer with Jesus. If that is so why bother? If we needn't bother then are we Christians or atheists?