Saturday, July 27, 2013

Dying in Christ


Recently I visited the mausoleum where my grandmother is interred. It's been some years since I've been there. 

She died 3 months after I graduated from high school. She's been gone for two thirds of my life. She remains dear to me, but no longer near to me. 

I suspect that not many grandkids visit the graves of their grandparents. There's a sense in which you're lucky if your kids visit your grave on a regular basis. It's even less likely to continue to the third generation.

We're quickly forgotten. That's because we die, then those who remembered us follow suit. 

It won't be long before no one ever visits my grandmother's grave. No one will remember who she was.  

And in time I bet the mausoleum will be torn down. For one thing, as cremation becomes more popular than burial, it will be harder for a mausoleum to take in enough revenue to pay the overhead. The maintenance costs are formidable.

For another thing, those opposed to tearing down the mausoleum would be relatives of the decedents. But with the passage of time, there are ever fewer relatives to advocate for the dead. 

In addition, as the dominate culture becomes more secularized, there is less reverence for the dead. Death is regarded as a natural biological process, to which most organisms are prone. 

Finally, the mausoleum is sitting on some prime real estate. I expect developers are itching to get their hands on the property. 

Visiting a cemetery is a symbolic gesture. It's for the benefit of the living, not the dead. Likewise, I don't think Christians have a duty to bury their dead rather than cremate the remains. That's just a traditional Christian custom. 

My primary point is that unless we belong to God, our lives have no enduring significance. We mattered to our loved ones, but they, too, will die. 

The world is indifferent to our demise. It's as if we never existed in the first place. Time replaces our past. 

5 comments:

  1. Really good post. Thanks, Steve.

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  2. Here, imho, is an article with regards to burial versus cremation from a Christian perspective worthy of consideration:

    http://www.dbts.edu/pdf/rls/Decker-Cremation.pdf

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  3. The Roman Catholic priest who spoke at my grandmother's funeral said something similar. He said "No one will ever write a book about Elizabeth, but the people whose lives she touched, her family, her children, grand children, her friends, they are the book she leaves behind." Something like that. He went on to talk about the resurrection. Of course, he ruined it by claiming that Gram's participation in the rites and life of the Church are what will guarantee her a good resurrection.

    Anyway, part of what he said was good and wise. In decades of attendance at Mass, I rarely discerned anything that sounded to me like wisdom coming from the pulpit. But on this occasion there was a bit.

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  4. I had Wayne Watson's song "Home Free" play during my mother's funeral. Here's a link to the song:

    http://youtu.be/G6l1kpJ0x5k

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  5. Steve, truly a great post. Thanks for sharing that.

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