Death and Christmas

Of your charity, say a prayer for the repose of the soul of my confrère P. Gottfried Eder, O.Cist. died on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, and whom we buried today. He had been a parish priest in one of our parishes for many years, and only returned to the monastery six years ago when his long final illness had already begun. The adjustment was not entirely easy for him, although he had a very gentle and mild temperament.

The conjunction of the prayers for the dead and the prayers for Christmas in these days has been very beautiful. One of the prayers that the abbot prayed in the funeral chapel refers to the Savior coming down into this passing world out of pity for the deceased:

Commendámus tibi, Dómine, ánimam servi tui N. * precamúrque, ut, propter quem ad terras tua pietáte descénderas, † patriarchárum tuórum sínibus insinuári non rénuas, * qui vivis et regnas in sǽcula sæculórum.

The Christmas Octave of course beautifully evokes the shadow of death, the adversary that the Lord was born to conquer through the Feasts of St Stephan and of the Holy Innocents (though the later was liturgically obscured this year since it fell on a Sunday). Right from the start there is opposition to Christ: “the light came into the world and people loved the darkness more than the light because their actions were wicked.” (John 3:19)

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