Thursday in the Fourteenth Week of Ordinary Time: Mass for the Deceased

In his Tools of Good Works St. Benedict writes, “Keep death daily before your eyes” (RB 4:47).  

How easy it is at New Melleray to keep death daily before our eyes.  When we look out the Northeast windows of this church we see the monks’ cemetery.  St. Benedict calls the monastery “a school of the Lord’s service” (Prol 45).  As a school it must have a graduation date and a diploma.  It does!  We graduate when we die and are buried in the cemetery.  The cross above our graves is the diploma. 

There’s another reason it’s easy for us to keep death daily before our eyes: Trappist Caskets.  Someone called them treasure chests.  Another described them as cradles.  Both images capture the Christian view of death as the beginning of a joyful future, our passage into the happiest country we could ever imagine or desire.  To keep death daily before our eyes is like saying keep heaven daily before our eyes.  In fact, in the previous tool of good works that’s what St. Benedict urges us to do. He writes, “Desire eternal life with all the passion of the spirit” (RB 4:46). Death will be a birthday, the beginning of eternal life.