01 December 2009

I Feel Like Such a Gentile: Grief & the Early Church

Since, then, there is certainty as to the resurrection of the dead, grief for death is needless... For why should you grieve, if you believe your loved ones have not perished? ... We wound Christ when we do not accept with equanimity the summoning out of this world of anyone by Him, as if they were to be pitied. - Tertullian (c. 200)

Although the death of a children leaves grief for the heart, it is not right to either go forth in black garments, or to bewail them. The Lord prudently says that you must grieve with the mind, not with outward show... Are you not ashamed to lament your children without restraint, like the Gentiles do? You tear your face, beat your breast, and take off your garments. Do you not fear the Lord, whose kingdom you desire to behold? - Commodianus (c. 240)

When the dear ones whom we love depart from this world, we should rejoice rather than grieve. Remembering this truth, the blessed apostle Paul in his epistle lays down , saying 'To me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.' - Cyprian (c. 250)
Our brethren who are freed from this world by the Lord's summons are not to be lamented. For we know that they are not lost. Rather, they are sent before us. Departing from us, they precede us as travelers - as navigators are accustomed to do. They should be envied, not bewailed! The black garments should not be taken upon us here, when they have already taken white garments there... The Gentiles can deservedly and rightly criticize us that we mourn as though our dead were extinct and lost. For, we say they are alive with God... There is no advantage in setting forth virtue by our words, but then destroying the truth by our deeds... The Holy Spirit teaches by Solomon that those who please God are taken from here sooner and are more quickly set free. Otherwise, while they are delaying longer in this world, they might be polluted with the pollution of the world... - Cyprian (c.250)
Words of wisdom and comfort from the early church.

Jonathan, you are free from the pains and weaknesses of this world; your days are now full of joy and life and comfort with our Lord. I miss you terribly but will see you soon, son.