Archbishop's Message

THE PRO-ACTIVE REST OF ETERNAL LIFE

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ!

The Catholic Church has attempted to describe eternal life in many and various ways. One of the most common vocabularies often repeated in our discourse about life after death is:ETERNAL LIFE AS A PLACE OF REST!

The very beginning of the bible talks of SABBATH as the day that the Lord rested (Genesis 2:2). And as we know well, this day of REST is forever to be the DAY OF THE LORD! God explicitly and repeatedly instructed us about the perfect way of observing the Lord’s way: YOU SHALL REST ON SABBATH! (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Acts, etc.,)

The letter to the Hebrews takes this theme of REST as God’s ultimate will for His creation and applies the same to salvation. In chapter four, the letter describes our common human destiny as one of partaking in God’s rest for eternity. In the most common prayer for the departed, we recite: “Eternal rest, grant unto them O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace, Amen!” We pray for our departed ones to rest in the Lord!

What is this eternal rest? Is it merely a passive sleep for all eternity? No! St Paul in his letter to the Ephesians 5:14, talks of the following command: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” The rest that the bible talks about is not the same as eternal sleep!

To be at rest is to be one with God, to share in the divine life of God and as St Paul would say, “to be so illuminated that we become a source of light ourselves” (Ephesians 5:13). The rest of afterlife is an intimate communion with God. Thus it is certain to us as believers that our departed ones are now pro-actively connected to God. Therefore in afterlife, the longing of St Augustine attains its perfect fulfillment: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

In their afterlife, the departed are not only pro-actively connected with God, they are also pro-actively connected with us. And as we know, this connection is through the powerful chord of prayer. We pray for the deliverance of souls in purgatory and they in turn intercede for our own intentions. We are pro-actively connected through prayer.

Yes, our human destiny of REST means to be pro-actively connected to God and one another. We need not wait for our afterlife to attain this destiny. In our family, in our discipleship, in the Church and in our society, we can still try and attain the foretaste of this pro-active communion with God and with each other.

May our prayers for our departed brothers and sisters this month, grant them the eternal rest of pro-active communion with God and continue to guide us in our pro-active communion with God and with each other.

May our Blessed Mother pray for us and our departed brothers and sisters.

With prayerful wishes,

 

Most Rev. George Antonysamy

Archbishop of Madras - Mylapore