Fear, Death and Funeral Rituals — Missionary Triptych in Time of Pandemic

19 October 2021

For the recent man, the fear of death, of losing control of his live, of what happens to oneʼs family after death, the fear of isolation and loneliness act as the most effective and rapid paralyzer. All mankind barricaded themselves in the house, invoking self-protection. The Churchʼs mission on this foundation of global fear has been extremely challenging, even ungrateful in some places. Keeping the pastorʼs connections with the flock as a pastoral emergency had to go through a harsh process and the pain of de-formalization. The abandonment of form in favor of deep content has often led to increasingly virulent and severe attacks on the Church and their servants. Virtually no decision of the Church has remained unpunished by a singular and absolute court: the media. Sometimes even voices in the Church revolted against it. However, the mission of the Church functioned, albeit in some places imperfectly, with small syncopation, redefining and even updating concepts such as domus ecclesiae, liturgical communion, sacramental life, etc. The COVID-19 pandemic left its funeral imprint on the contemporary history of mankind through the approximately 2,000,000 deaths caused to date, while ‟unbalancing” the conduct of funeral rituals in Christianity and other religions of the world, both in cases of death caused by the new coronavirus, as well as other causes. If until the outbreak of the pandemic, the idea of ​​death and burial had become more and more ‟cosmetic” today, with its advent, against the background of the growing fear of death, the funeral services officiated by those who died of COVID-19 suffered deep ‟metamorphoses” in terms of ritual, duration and participants in these moments. Thus, in the whirlwind of these troubled times, in which physical death ‟monopolizes” almost any sense of fear of believers in spiritual death, when ‟he who kills the body” has more publicity and more rating than ‟he who kills the soul”, the Church regulated its funeral liturgical service according to the norms imposed by the state authorities, its mission and pastoral care remaining faithful and consistent with the souls of the faithful marked by this scourge.