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Catholic Northwest Progress
Seattle, Washington
November 15, 1963     Catholic Northwest Progress
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November 15, 1963

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2---THE PROGRESS Fr]ctay, Nov. 15, 1963 Lea,|j I IF==E=Z=00 ... may the martyrs come to welcome you on your way By Rev. D. Harvey Mclnfyre The priest in death, as in life. stands in his traditional role as mediator between man and God, whispering on behalf of this now speechless Christian, a prayer whose rapid ascent to the throne of God is symbolized by the swiftly rising wisps of incense: "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Amen." Thesimple splendor of this scene together with the sacrifice of the Mass which the priest has just completed afford an accurate portrayal of the reverent activities surrounding the first Christian death and burial on Calvary. The Child who had been Offered incense at birth, made possible the sacrifice of the Mass through a sacrificial death upon the cross in which fhls first Priest of the Chris- fian era initiated. His sacerdotal mediation between God and man. Once the Savior had bowed His head in death. His faithful companions reverently removed the lifeless form from the cross, solemnly bore His revered body to a new tomb and made plans to anoint with aromatic herbs and to devoutly wrap in clean linens fhls awesome remnant of their Master Perhaps some unenlightened members of our society might criticize Christ for not condemning this materialistic worship of His body, or at least they might ridicule the Church for perpetuating devotion to other bodies simi- larly rendered useless through death. After all, they argue, these Christians insist that the soul is the important part of man. Why teen fhls fetish concern for the body now devoid of its life-glvlng spirit? need, no genuine Catholic could or would deny that our primary concern, in death as well as in llfe, must be for the soul. We have a serious obligation, through the sacraments of Penance, Holy Eucharist and Extreme Unction to prepare that soul for death, through the Mass and other prayers after death? But where did fhls eternal spirit reside during life on earth? Through what medium did fhls spiritual power operate in a material world? "Then the Lord God formed man of the slime of the earth, and breathed into his face the breath of llfe; and man became a living soul." (Gen. 1:27.) At the very birth of man God established the medium through which the soul should operate in the world by breathing this vibrant spirit into a body of flesh and blood. Herein rests the first basis for the Christian respect which we manifest toward the bodies of the deceased faithful: the lifeless form which we carry into the Church was once the home of an eternal spirit which is destined to llve forever in the sight of God. But during llfe the body of the faithful Christian was more than a mere home for fhls eternal soul. Throuqh baptism that soul was infused wlfh the sanctifying life of God so that the physical home for fhls soul suddenly became a living, breathing tabernacle of His presence: "Or do you not know that ),our members are the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have Trom God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought at a great price. Glorify God and hear Him in your body." (I Cor. VI: 19-20.) And yet more! The apparent finality of fhls consignment of the lifeless body to the qrace is a fiction, for beyond the warning. "Dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return" (Gen. II1: 19). we look expectantly to the pledqe of a resurrection: "But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus Christ from the dead dwells in you, then He Who raised Jesus Chrlsf from the dead will also bring to llfe your mortal bodies because of His Spirit Who dwells in you.', (Rom. VIII: II.) Why then should if surprise us that the bereaved respectfully prepare fhls sacred vessel for that rest which will last only until the day of final judg- ment? No wonder that fhls priest of God has offered Mass in the presence of a tabernacle so recently vacated by the Spirit of God. His consecrated hand cannot resist the divine impulse to devoutly sprinkle wlfh holy water and rever- ently anoint with the aroma of incense fhls'femple of the Holy Spirit abandoned but temporarily. The priest will return to the altar for a final prayer which he addresses principally to the soul about to face the particular judgment, but no less surely to the body which will ultimately rise up for the final judgment" "May the angels fake you into paradise: may the martyrs come fo welcome you on your way and lead you into the holy city of Jerusalem." (Prayer from the Burial hJal.)