Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Works of Mercy Bouquet: Bury the Dead

It has been awhile since I have really posted regularly.  Have you missed me?  I don't know if anyone has noticed that the blog is quiet, sometimes I wonder if there are actually people out there who read and anticipate new posts.  We have been incredibly busy, plus I do not have internet hooked up at the new house.  I told my husband that I could live without it for a couple of months, but I am missing writing and it seems impossible to get anything posted without constant internet.  We have been working non-stop to settle into the new house and prepare the old house for rental, throw in some major plumbing issues and a two year old, and well that's why I haven't been writing. 

I wanted to finish my Works of Mercy Series in time for Christmas, everywhere I look the world is telling me that I am running out of time.  On top of the internet problems, I have really struggled with what to write about "Bury the Dead".  I considered skipping it, but that didn't seem right.  I knew there had to be a story there to share, a piece of wisdom that the LORD wanted me to pen for all of you.  But what?  What more is there to say about bury the dead other than the title of the work implies.  Surely, in modern cultures, the dead are always buried in some way, shape, or form.  Most places have laws about that, you cannot just leave a body on the ground and ignore it. 
However, two recent events made me realize why this is an act of mercy.  The first was the terrorist attacks in Paris, the second, the anniversary of my daughter's due date--she would have been five on the feast of St Elizabeth of Hungry.  I realized despite all our civility and hygienic laws, we do not properly bury our dead, and as Catholics, we must step up and go against the tide, and demand better for God's sake and our own.  I shared the story of losing my daughter to miscarriage and the miscarriage of justice for her remains that followed before.  I was assured that her ashes were buried within a stranger's coffin, along with "other medical waste."  Read as other pre-born children, except they were one who had been selectively terminated for whatever reason, I never wanted to bury my daughter before even meeting her.  So, yes, she was buried, but how and where and when?  I was never allowed to know.  Did she have a Christian burial?  Was she buried with honor and dignity?  While, I will never know the answer to the first question, the second is a resounding NO!  She was mixed in with other lost children, cremated, then strategically hidden in a casket, the family and friends never being the wiser.  The loved ones who wept over the casket and grave never knew that they were weeping over my child, nor any child.  Yes, she was buried for propriety's sake, but no dignity was shown.  The value of her life was never considered, she was just some waste that had to be dealt with legally and efficiently.  Do only the wanted and useful deserve to have dignity? 

To my discredit, in examining this topic and the duties of the work that we are obliged to undertake, I found myself lacking as well.  I never had a proper Mass of Burial said for Ashley.  I have included her in many prayer intentions and Mass requests, particularly in November.  I have lit candles and wept prayerful tears, however never a proper Mass just for her.  Once I could not acquire her remains to bury, I felt that I had no right to such a blessing.  I felt my opportunity to lay her to rest ended with the hospital disposing of her remains without my consent.  Through prayer and reflection, I realize that I am wrong.  I'm not really sure how one accomplishes such a task as a Mass of Burial five years later with no body to bury, but God has laid it on my heart to discover just that.

In the midst of this soul searching, the attacks on Paris occurred.  They truly shook my heart and soul.  I had sensed rumbling of something awful to come, but more over I have a great appreciate and love for Paris and her people.  The shocking, yet not completely unexpected considering all that has been going on in the world, news led me down another path of examination.  What could all this violence and evil have to do with a work of mercy?  The LORD kept drawing my mind back to this article but I couldn't understand why.  Then it hit me, head on---what will become of the dead terrorists?  Where will their remains be laid to rest?  Will anyone pray for their souls?  Were they annointed and shown dignity that every human being, as a child of God, deserves?  More and more questions, no answers!

I know that this is not a part of the puzzle that we want to consult.  They are dead and we rejoice in that shred of hope that at least they can commit no more atrocities against humanity.  However, part of me always wonders, what were their last thoughts?  Did they have children, a wife, siblings, friends?  Even in a radical, militarist society, their mothers must weep knowing they are gone.  Surely, even with a mission from Allah, they will be missed.  Even if they aren't, they were all infused with immortal souls at conception, they were blessed by the LORD and their lives were planned before eternity began.  Yes, they have turned against God.  Yes, they have sinned against their fellow man, taking innocent lives and creating fear in a cloud of evil and destruction.  But, do we not all sin?  Does it not grieve the Father when we speak harshly to our brother or child, when we react selfishly and refuse to focus on the other?  Are we any more deserving of mercy because our sins have not become international news? 

There is great evil in the world and it begins to feel like darkness is closing in on us, advancing every second.  In moments of weakness, we may fear that the dark forces may win--but they will never prevail.  Still, every one of us will stand judgement, all of us will meet our Maker and account for our every second of life.  We will stand alone, there will not be a hierarchy, there will be no one less worthy beside us to make us look better.  Our body will be buried in some way, shape, or form, and our soul will ascend to the Gate.  Will we be welcomed in?  Who will we meet on the other side?  Will there be a Paris terrorist?  Will there be a poor, lost, and sinful soul that we wrote off as no good?  God is our ultimate Judge, in His courts, true justice is metered out; not by what we deserve but by what He deems, in His Mercy, we will receive.

I pray often for the conversion of our enemies, for the softening of their hearts.  I pray that their knees will bend to the One, True, God and they will turn from the darkness and embrace the Light.  I pray that their consciences will guide them to the beauty of humanity and the sanctity of life.  However, I have never prayed for their dead.  I have never lit candles for the repose of their soul, never requested a Mass be said for their intentions.  The LORD wishes that none should perish, in that final moment between here and the hereafter, we are given the choice of eternity in praise or eternity in misery.  Which did they choose?  Did even one of the terrorists repent as their soul departed this earth?  Is he "serving his time" of cleansing in Purgatory?  What is the quickest way out of Purgatory?  The prayers of many faithful for your release. 

So how do we live this work of mercy?  Surely, we cannot hold funerals for children that we never knew existed.  Should we track down the morgues were those killed in the perpetration of crimes are kept and offer to bury their bodies?  I do not have the answers.  All I do know is that we should mourn every life lost.  Our heart should weep for every soul that leaves this earth, and pray for its eternal destination.  So I ask all of you, please do just a little part in remembering all the dead, those loved--but more importantly, those forgotten, unloved, and reviled.  Please, this Sunday, as you go to Mass pray for the victims, every victim, of the ISIS tragedies--those lost by force and those lost as perpetrators of force.  In the prayers of the faithful, offer a silent prayer for the repose of the souls of the terrorists.  After Mass, light a candle and ask God to grant them a conditional blessing, that if their bodies were not treated with dignity that they may be blessed in traveling from this earth to their final resting place, that they may receive a proper burial as children of God; for surely even if no one else in their family nor country has wept for them, their Father in Heaven has.

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