State of Grace

This saying of the Lord from today’s Gospel (Lk 12:32-48) is part of the funeral rite for Christians. It is the Gospel passage used at the “Vigil of the Deceased”, otherwise known as a viewing or wake. As Catholics, we understand that to “be prepared” means to be in a state of grace (the Grace of Christ). It means to always be ready for the hour of death. If we live in a state of grace, then we are always ready. Frequent reception of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Confession, are the primary means by which we live in Christ’s Grace. So, with God’s help, if we participate in Sunday Mass every week, confess throughout the year, and live the virtues, then we will be prepared. We will always be ready!

When I receive a call for a funeral, one of my first thoughts is, ‘was the person prepared?’ Did he or she live a sacramental life and die in a state of grace? Even if a Catholic dies having not been practicing their Catholic faith, there is still hope that they could be prepared through the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. According to the Rite, Anointing of the Sick “gives the grace of the Holy Spirit to those who are sick: by this grace the whole person is helped and saved, sustained by trust in God, and strengthened against the temptations of the Evil One and against anxiety over death.”

Anointing of the Sick is not just about saving someone’s soul and shouldn’t be seen only as an emergency option at the 11th hour for someone away from the Church. It is a sacrament of spiritual and sometimes physical healing. Catholics should know about the power of the sacrament, and be ready to call for a priest to anoint when a family member is gravely ill, approaching surgery, or dying. Here is more information about the Anointing of the Sick from the Archdiocese of Washington.

May you know the peace of Christ,

Fr Greg