Promulgated on February 2, 2013 | The Presentation of the Lord
Download the Full-Length Letter English | Español
For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection.
— Romans 6:5
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The mystery of death has troubled and fascinated humanity since the fall of our first parents, Adam and Eve. Death comes to us as an inheritance from the Original Sin, and by our own personal sins we have signed-on to this tragic legacy. All have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God, St. Paul teaches. Indeed, many people view death as an unremittingly frightening prospect, one from which they spend their lives trying to distract themselves, because they feel overwhelmed by their sins or because they lack faith in God.
Our own experiences of mourning deceased family members and friends teach us the deep longing of the human heart for hope in the face of death. But we also know, in our own lives or through others, the temptation to avoid thoughts of death, as well as the temptation either to move too quickly through our mourning or to dwell on our sadness with too little hope. Many people are tempted to engage in the process of mourning as an intense, but merely human, drama. And we know that there are many who, out of a different kind of concern, wish to avoid “making a fuss” in favor of extremely simplified acts of “saying goodbye” to their deceased loved ones.
Today, these temptations and others are deeply influencing the approach to death and burial taken even by those of the household of faith, the Church. Many Catholics have lost a clear sense about how to face death with faith and hope, about the importance of exercising Christian charity by praying for our beloved dead, and about what it truly means to experience the consolation that only our communion with Jesus Christ can offer.