Edmund: Death! Let’s talk about death. When you die, your body will be put in the ground. Or some people choose cremation. That is, unless you’re a saint, in which case there is a chance you might end up like St. Bernadette on display. Or your tongue and vocal chords might be on display like St. Anthony of Padua. Your clothes might even be divided up like St. Padre Pio’s habit. Or maybe like St. Vincent De Paul, your bones and various organs would be put on display. That’s right. Your body will be left to rest in peace unless per chance you might be a saint in the Catholic Church. Why is the Catholic Church so weird about saints’ bodies? It’s because you can look forward to a day where you will come back to life.
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Edmund: So we’re here at a cemetery and a lot of people might find cemeteries creepy, but the reason the Catholic Church treats saints’ bodies so special, and the reason we treat, uh, our loved one’s bodies so special, is because we actually believe, uh, something happens to them after they die. Death is a consequence of sin. And this is exactly why Jesus came to save us from death. Jesus himself experienced death and he rose from the dead to restore us to life, to redeem us, and to give us this opportunity to receive the resurrection and the life of Jesus Christ. The Catechism says in paragraph 996, “From the beginning, Christian faith in the resurrection has met with incomprehension and opposition. On no point does a Christian faith encounter more opposition than on the resurrection of the body.” It smells gross?
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Edmund: Are you a vampire? So this practice of putting saints’ bodies on display after death and honoring their bodies can seem really strange at first. But the idea is that the body has dignity and meaning even after death. I mean, we’re not just spirits trapped in a meat bag. I mean even after death, the bodies of those we love, we take great care of because the body’s meaningful. There’s not just like, there’s me somewhere in my body and then when I die, there’s like a separation of me from my body. It’s actually , we’re a soul and a body,
So like imagine this is a soul. And the soul is, you know, it’s an immaterial thing. But our soul and our body is united and in death is when this separation of the soul and the body occurs. But it’s not like ‘me’ is, you know, just here or just here. There isn’t just like one part of my body where ‘I’ am like my brain or my heart, but I’m not just a soul either. Human persons are both body and soul. So when the soul leaves the body, we call that death. But we can look forward to a time where our soul and a resurrected new, glorified body will be united again. To be, oh, not to be. Belief in the resurrection was historically pretty controversial. And it’s understandably so. There was even a time in the Church’s history where the Church did not allow Christians to be cremated, because at the time, to cremate the body was a public statement that you did not believe in the resurrection of the body.
So what does all this mean? This means that the Church takes the body seriously. “We believe in the resurrection of the body.” So that means the body should be treated with respect and dignity. We believe that in this resurrection of the dead, our bodies, now glorified after the pattern of Jesus Christ’s glorified body, will be reunited with our soul. What we do with our body, we also do with our mind and spirit. Since these things are so intertwined, it’s not just at death that our body has meaning and dignity, it’s throughout our lives as well. So how will you treat your body and soul with respect?