Considering the end of our earthly life
In ordinary circumstances, our own death is something that we come to accept as part of our distant future. As such, we put off thinking about those matters that surround the transition from life to death and are left to make choices in a hurry if at all.
For Christians, through the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, we believe that death is not the end, but a moment of transition from the life that we live on Earth to one in a closer presence with God in Heaven. Whilst we believe that death is not the end, it is nonetheless an event that demands spiritual preparation and some plans made beforehand. Making plans for your death and funeral will be a source of much comfort to those whom you leave behind - as they will want to know that when the time came, they did what you would have wanted.
We advise taking some simple steps:
1. Do your family know of your Christian faith? It is regularly the case that dispersed family members have lost sight of the Christian life of their relatives, if they knew of it at all (resulting in civil funeral services for devout Christians). Make sure your family know of your faith as it will help them to help you prepare appropriately when the time of death approaches.
2. Ministry at the Time of Death [otherwise known as 'Last Rites']: if you wish to be prepared for your death by anointing (extreme unction) and the sacrament of absolution, make that known while you are able - even it is years before that time comes. If you are a relative of someone who has asked for this Ministry, contact Fr David as soon as you can. He will visit your loved-one urgently. Providing some means for hospitals, for example, to know of your wishes will more likely assure you of this spiritual cleansing before death.
3. We all hope to have a good funeral and one that accords with our own perspectives. Do you wish to be buried or cremated, and if so where? It is often the case that relatives are left with these choices after the death, and are then left to make 'best guesses'. Talk to your family about how your funeral should look, and where, and what you might like it to contain - and then write it down, reviewing it as time passes. It might also be advisable to let the Vicar know what you you would choose for your funeral.
4. Have you prepared a Last Will and Testament? This is not just a place for dealing with goods and chattels but a place where we can deposit instructions for the time of your death. It might also be that you wish to make a donation from your estate to the life and work of God's Church and form a legacy in your memory.
5. Talk to the Vicar or one of the priests - never be coy or superstitious about talking about your death. We will all die, and it will be a moment bound up in tragedy and sadness for those who are left behind at the time when they are called to make many choices on your behalf.
In simple terms - decide what you want, tell someone, write it down.
6. Arranging a funeral - if you have lost a loved one and would like the funeral to take place in Ss Philip & James Church, please do talk to Fr David. Even if you or your loved one are not worshippers here, we would still be honoured to open our doors to you.