TVictorians were repressed about sex. We are repressed about death. If his rdview were concerned with pornography, contraception or even necrophilia there is a chance that it would be read; now that we are concerned about death, how many will read on or even consider buying the books?
Yet they are worth reading, in different ways. You may not be interested in the attitudes of adolescents in Stokholm to their local cemetery, but any pastoral concern at all will be avid to read an article on helping a child to face death. or an assessment of the changes in attitudes +to death which show a curious increase of neuroses among those who have lost a loved one. Symptoms may be intensive overwork, the pretence of living with the dead as though he were still around . . . !the imitation of certain symptoms of his illness, waking away through lack of appetite. All these are more and more frequently noted among those who repress their mourning ou. of a morbid fear of facing the reality of death.
We need to be certain -that it is basic to The Christian view that we will survive this ter rifying experience in an individual and personal way and ncrt just as some vague share in a cosmic life force. if we survive at -all.
For the new Utopias are in fact cosmic "con tricks" if they offer us not even personal "pie in the sky" but some vague share in a "classless posterity." Who arc they kidding? If all they have to offer is a noble and stoic despair, then it is time that we spelt this out to ourselves and the masses.
Death is a reality and it cornes as an end — or a beginning. We had better be certain which we expect. Revolution here and now may be worth working for, is in fact worth working for. But that does not confine us to the here and now.
The Christian is first of all forced to care for the individual with love and cornpassion here and now, but he falsifies his Faith if that is all he offers. Evil, corruption, betrayal are all part of the human condition and will remain so no matter What we do to the capitalists or the Marxists, and .death will remain with us too.
In the end—and the phrase is nice — we can examine the views of man in our own generation to discover his needs, but we come back, in the end, to the empty tomb. If we stand by the side of an open grave just often enough to make it part of everyday experience without becoming 'hardened, any theory which makes Christ's Resurrection less than the empty tomb is not merely nugatory, it is farcical, ludicrous and sick.
Only a generation scared of death could be satisfied with a resurrection only in the mind. These things need to be faced while there is yet time, Reading both these studies of death is a salutary undertaking: the Lumen Vitae study is factual and illuminating, the other penetrating and provocative Both are worth the study.
Fr. J. P. Fay