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Posts Tagged ‘Hereafter’

casper_1995_therapy_session_with_ghosts_part_2Ghost movies are popular this time of year.  And not just “ghost movies” per se, but really anything that deals with a spirit world and its “lines of communication” with the everyday world.

Films such as the 1995 family yarn “Casper,” in which ghosts continue to haunt people and places because of “unfinished business,” come to mind.

HereafterBut films such as Clint Eastwood’s 2010 supernatural thriller “Hereafter,” which involves characters who seek the aid of a psychic (Matt Damon) in order to get in touch with their deceased loved ones, are also pertinent.

I could go on, of course.  From “Ghost” (1990) to “The Sixth Sense” (1999), similarly themed tales abound.

What I gather from these is the central and age-old human question: What is the relationship between the living and the dead?

This is, of course, a matter that tugs quite forcefully at the heartstrings.  It lies pretty near the roots of our deepest longings.  The desire for life in us — not just for ourselves, but for those we love and for the continuation of our relationships beyond the narrow confines of natural life — is very strong; so strong is it, in fact, that death makes us sad, frightened, and alone.

I won’t go into the many expressions this has taken from culture to culture throughout human history.  That information is widely available.  But since I’m writing from a Catholic perspective, I do want to share the doctrine of the Communion of Saints with those unfamiliar with it.

“We believe in the communion of all the faithful of Christ, those who are pilgrims on earth, the dead who are being purified (in purgatory), and the blessed in heaven, all together forming one Church; and we believe that in this communion, the merciful love of God and his saints is always [attentive] to our prayers” (CCC 962) (parentheses mine)

Our merciful, compassionate, loving God knows the communal needs of the human heart — in fact, he created them.

It is not good for … man to be alone (Genesis 2:18)

Jesus Raises Lazarus

In the book “Crossing the Threshold of Hope,” Pope John Paul II made the comment that to believe in the Communion of Saints is to believe in Christ.  Why?  Because Christ is the source of the Communion of Saints, the One in whom it holds together.  He has made it possible just as He has made eternal life possible.

I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live (John 11:25)

What is more, Christ is the very reason both for the Communion of Saints and the desire it meets.  Why do we want eternal life if we don’t have some desire that will take an eternity to be fulfilled?  Similarly, why do we want our relationships with loved ones to continue if not to share in something (namely, singing the praises of the Most Holy Trinity)?

In the midst of our (not always healthy) fascination with the afterlife and the otherworldly, I hope we don’t forget where our hope comes from.

Top image obtained from a Google image search; “Hereafter” image from Wikipedia

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