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“Bury the dead”

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My son, shed tears over the dead [… ] and according to judgment cover his body, and neglect not his burial. (Sirach 38:16). The Burial of the dead is a practice that has always accompanied human life. Man is the only creature aware of death, the one who developed this practice. Although the burial of the dead doesn’t appear clearly among the works of charity that Jesus lists in Matthew 25: 31-46, the Church puts it among the corporal works of mercy as a form of piety of which the biblical tradition takes utmost account together the care given to the dead: to wash, dress, perfume, recompose the deceased are acts that precede the burial.

Anyone who experiences the death of a loved one, knows well how many attentions he would give to him before the final separation that takes place precisely with the burial and how much this should be worthy.

Every people gave different treatment to the dead according to the custom of the times, the culture, the degree of civilization, but always pushed by the main purpose of conserving the body, the remains through the burial. It ranges from the decomposition in the open air to the interment, that is the burial in the ground, in the bare ground or at first the dead is put in wooden coffins that are then covered with earth or entombed.

We might think of the archaeological discoveries that are able to judge and recognize a people by the way in which the dead is buried: for Egyptians the graves were rooms in which they kept, in addition to the dead body closed into sarcophagi, personal belongings of the deceased, jewelry, foods. Equally the Etruscans who, thinking about life after death, saw the tomb as a home, providing the furnishings, the equipment that would have served to the deceased. According to the Greeks and Romans  the entombment  was of fundamental importance: the deceased without sepulture was destined to wander outside the realm of the souls.

The tombs are also made considering several factors, the period, the beliefs of the time. There are different type of tombs: underground, hidden, covered with mounds of earth; well-shaped, dug in the ground; impressive as the mausoleums to honor the memory of famous people who have made history; for individuals or family groups.

In the Old Testament death takes on a spiritual value and the deceased receives his own dignity, that is highlighted more strongly in the New Testament with the coming of Christianity and the development of belief of the resurrection "I believe in… the resurrection of the body and  the life everlasting....

Jesus, God who came to Earth in the form of man, was born, lived, died like every creature. After His death He was buried "as is the burial custom of the Jews" (Jn 19:40), He was placed in a tomb cut into the rock, His body wrapped in a sheet, so that He could rest while He awaited what he himself had announced: the new life, the eternal life. His burial, however, is the announcement of the Faith that the Church proclaims every day, from the beginning of Christianity: He died for our sins, He was buried and was raised on   the third day in accordance with the Scriptures (1 Cor 15:3-4 ).

So the vision of life changes for the Christian. Life concludes with death, its earthly journey, but it does not end, because death is the beginning of a life that will never end. So the tomb is the place where the body rests until the new coming of the Lord. "Christ's stay in the tomb constitutes the real link between his passible state before Easter and his glorious and risen state today" (C.C.C.625). Death is likened to sleep and the cemetery is, according the translation from the greek, "the place where you sleep", waiting to be awakened.

So the idea of a place for the dead began to spread among Christians: the catacombs, the underground areas; the floors of the churches, the space around the religious structures, finally, the areas away from the city center, the existing cemeteries.

Among the early Christian burials we would mention the tomb of St. Peter who was buried on the slope of the Vatican Hill, and that of St. Paul;  they were both martyred. The tombs of the martyrs constituted assembly places and for the strong desire to be buried near to them, as they were closer to God and were able to intercede, and also because of the numerous conversions the first cemeteries arose: the catacombs. They appeared around the second century and in them the dead were laid in niches, wrapped in linen sheets and closed with bricks and stones.

Cremation was not considered, indeed it was rejected, unlike the Romans who interred and cremated. In 1964, Pope Pole VI ordered that cremation could be practiced as long as it was not adopted  as an a insult to faith.

Burying the dead is a great work of mercy, of true love towards the people who move to a new dimension of life, the one that we do not see here, but that is promised by Christ and is an expression of our faith. It means honoring their lives, their bodies, recalling that the human body is first of all the dwelling of the Holy Spirit. We do not see the dead, yet we often perceive their presence as a sign of the transcendental life that is a divine mystery.

Death is the gift of self to God, it’s returning to God, from whom we come, offering ourselves in Jesus who experienced death for us, for our salvation. It means to die with Him, in Him to live with Him, in Him. And the Mass, the offering of the sacrifice of Christ to God is the ritual that living responsibly celebrate in order to accompany the deceased.

Our responsibility towards the other increases in proportion to the knowledge of God's Word, of the message that is contained in It. And the message is Jesus Himself, a God who is hidden, is buried His Humanity, and manifests Himself in the final act of His Resurrection.

Through that act His humanity received His soul again and It rose triumphantly and gloriously, to immortal life, obtaining triumph over the human wills weakened and almost extinguished to true good, to let triumph over them the life of that Divine Will which was to bring the fullness of Sanctity to creatures.

As Jesus explained to Luisa, His Resurrection completed and returned to Him all honors; It called to life all of His works, which He did in the course of His Life on earth, and formed the seed of the resurrection of the souls, and even of the bodies, on the Universal Judgment.

This is the meaning, the value that the Christian is called to give to the tomb starting to make a change in his life, a total conversion to the Will of God, as Jesus teach us.

It’s the human will that gradually dies and is buried in the Divine Will so for the creature, the conquests in the divine order start, the glory, the joy even in the midst of the greatest sorrows.

Burying is hiding from the view of others, Jesus in the tomb hid from the view of His Mother, but She always followed Him with the eyes of the heart, and teaches us that our eyes, our steps, our heart must be hidden, buried in His eyes, in His steps, in His heart, so that we look at nothing but what He wants, as we walk we may leave the mark of His steps and love as His heart loves.

In her dialogue with Jesus, Luisa continuously received these teachings. She lived as almost buried, she hid herself from the view of others to conform herself totally to Christ and become a spokesperson of the divine message: living  in the Divine Will that led her to conquer the glory of her spiritual testament.

According to God the tomb would be not imparting the truth of the Divine Will, it would mean precisely to bury the light, the grace. Silence on anything which is truth forms the burial of the truth, while the word forms the resurrection of the truth - it makes light, grace and good rise again; more so, since the word on the truth comes from the Supreme Fiat. In Creation  Jesus wanted to use the word “Fiat” so that the word too might have divine origin; and His creative power might have the power to communicate those truths to whomever would have the fortune to listen to Him.  Now, the Supreme Fiat is the manifestation of all the goods that the Divine Volition contains, a new Creation. If we Know these truths but stay silent, we form the tomb for the Divine Will.


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