Today is a beautiful day here in the piney woods of east Texas. On Sunday morning, one of our elderly Sisters died at the age of eighty four. The interment in our monastic cemetery was scheduled for Tuesday morning, but all that morning, it poured in torrents so the burial had to be postponed until the weather was more cooperative. Today was the day.
After Mass, we went in procession out to the little cemetery where seventeen Sisters are already buried. We gathered around the prepared grave, blessed it, said our farewell prayers, and then the funeral directors lowered the casket part way into the grave.
Then something happened that I found very striking. We went back to the chapel and, as I do every morning, I exposed the Blessed Sacrament for the adoration of the Sisters and any laypeople who come to pray. As I placed the consecrated Host into the monstrance and lifted it to its place of honor above our tabernacle, I noticed the interesting contrast. Just a few minutes before, we had lowered a dead body into a grave. Now, we were lifting a very LIVING body to its throne of adoration and worship.
Sister Mary Pius was human, that is, composed of body and soul. And because she was human, she died. At the moment of her death, the soul left the body and those two elements will be separated until the end of time and the resurrection of the body. That will happen to you and me, too. Then, at the last day, we will be reunited body and soul and go into eternity with those elements of our human make-up again united.
Jesus was human by reason of his holy incarnation; at the moment of his conception in the immaculate womb of his Blessed Mother, he was given a human soul and his body began to exist and grow by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. Because he was human, he belonged to a sinful race, and to redeem that race, he died on the cross. But he remained dead only about 40 hours. On Easter morning, his body and soul were reunited and will remain so forever.
You and I are going to die. But Christ our savior has died to save us from eternal death, and he is our hope. So this morning, we lowered a dead body into a grave, and we raised the living body of the eucharistic Christ to its throne in our chapel of adoration.
We pray, then, “Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her.” And we also pray, “O Sacrament most holy, O Sacrament divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment thine.” Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: Father Brown composed this message some years ago.