27 August, Augustine: respectful Christian burial shows faith in the resurrection.

Saints Monica and Augustine, mother and son.

Saint Augustine is one of those we at the Mirror like to remember, but his feast this year is eclipsed by Sunday, so we turn to him on his mother’s day, the feast of Saint Monica. She never stopped praying for him, even when he was well off the rails. This is an extract from Augustine’s The City of God, Book I. Augustine is writing about the respect shown to human bodies in death. He was living at the time of the collapse of the Roman Empire in bloody battle. This complements Canon Anthony’s reflections yesterday on the re-interment of Bishop Budd and the heart of Cardinal Vaughan after their first resting place passed out of church ownership.

Our Lord Himself, too, though He was to rise again the third day, applauds, and commends to our applause, the good work of the religious woman who poured precious ointment over His limbs, and did it against His burial.

And the Gospel speaks with commendation of those who were careful to take down His body from the cross, and wrap it lovingly in costly cerements, and see to its burial. These instances certainly do not prove that corpses have any feeling; but they show that God’s providence extends even to the bodies of the dead, and that such pious offices are pleasing to Him, as cherishing faith in the resurrection. And we may also draw from them this wholesome lesson, that if God does not forget even any kind office which loving care pays to the unconscious dead, much more does He reward the charity we exercise towards the living.

From “City of God” by Saint Augustine, via Kindle.)


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