A thought for the day from Richard Rawlinson
The trend for funerals conducted as celebrations of life must surely stem from society’s weakened belief in life after death. Even Christians now opt for the panegyric of the dead through tributes to the deceased instead of a ceremony combining natural grief for the loss and hope of the mercy of God.
In the days of the Hapsburg Empire there was a ritual to receive the body of a dead emperor into the cathedral in Vienna: attendants with the coffin would knock on the doors and a voice from within would ask: “Who demands entry?” Many grand titles would be read out. The doors would remain shut. The attendants would knock again and the same question would be asked. The response this time would simply be “A poor sinner”. The doors would be thrown open and the coffin would proceed inside.