Select Page

“We do not offer anything to the departed , or on behalf of the departed, but we remember them with gladness. Bernard of Clairvaux says, ‘The saints have no need of honor from us; neither does our devotion add the slightest thing to what is theirs. But I tell you, when I think of them, I feel myself inflamed by a tremendous yearning!’

“We are proud of them, we miss them, and because of Jesus we have the assurance of reunion with them.

“And this has always set Christian believers apart. We have an unusually comfortable relationship to death. The Romans never visited the burial places of their beloveds. In the ancient Mediterranean those who dealt with the dead were unclean, undesirables. But Christians held their dead, washed them, and sang them to their rest. They gathered where they were buried for prayer and worship. And they called those places koimeteria, “sleeping places,” laying them in their grave as they would in their bed, just as sure that their eyes will be opened by the last trumpet as we are that in the morning the dawn will open ours.

“We live in a sure and certain hope of the resurrection through Jesus Christ. Unafraid of death— saddened by the separations we experience, yes, but even more sure that because Jesus lives, they, and we, will live also.

“As the English poet and priest George Herbert put it, ‘Death used to be an executioner, but Christ has made him just a gardener.’”

—from the bishop’s sermon for the commemoration of the faithful departed (All Souls Day)