Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
God is ever-present in our lives. He desires to encounter us and interact with us at all times in order to reveal Himself to us and show us the way to eternal life. By living in His grace, we experience and enjoy the abundance of life which He promised to provide for us (John 10: 10). We know that particular times are blessed as privileged opportunities to encounter God’s divine love for us. The special liturgical seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter are excellent examples of this; as are the significant moments which mark our lives from our birth until our death. Additionally, we set aside certain physical spaces as places where we can step out of the ordinariness of daily life and enter the realm of God’s kingdom; our churches, chapels, and shrines are all such places. In addition to these, the spaces we set aside as the final resting grounds of our loved ones are also sacred. Our cemeteries are places where we who are living in this world show respect and love to those who have departed from this life with the hope of being with God forever in heaven. Gate of Heaven Cemetery is such a sacred, beautiful place here in our own Archdiocese.
We are truly blessed to have this sacred space among us. At Gate of Heaven Cemetery we perform both corporal and spiritual works of mercy: we lay to rest the bodies of our loved ones, praying for their redemption in Christ, and we comfort those who mourn. It is a place where we gather for the Monthly Mass, the Mass on Memorial Day, and personal visits to those whom we hold dear.
At baptism we are sealed with the Sign of the Cross; marked by the holy Name of the Trinity, our body becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit. For this reason, we Christians respect and honor our bodies not only in life, but also in death; we carefully lay our deceased loved ones to rest in places made sacred by both their mortal remains and the divine love which accompanies them into eternity. It is the ancient Christian custom to bury or entomb the bodies of the dead, just as the disciples of our Lord laid His body to rest in the tomb in the garden. We show this same respect to cremated remains, which are still the human body but in a different form. God’s grace continues to act through the work done at a Catholic cemetery. It is a continuation of the ministry that began in a parish church with baptism into the Catholic community and was sustained throughout life by participation in the sacraments. The life of sacramental grace culminates with the Rite of Committal in a Catholic cemetery.
The reverent burial of the body of the deceased proclaims our anticipation of the resurrection of the body on the last day. The care with which we bury the dead expresses our faith in the victory over death, which Our Lord Jesus Christ has won by His Death, Resurrection, and Ascension into heaven. Catholic cemeteries enshrine our hope in the conquering of life over death. The consecrated ground of a Catholic cemetery is sacred because it holds the bodies of our loved ones until the Lord returns in glory. It is a place where prayers, both public and private, are offered. It is a place of peace, hope, and joy. A Catholic cemetery reminds us that we are part of the communion of saints, where we are united with all faithful, both the living and all those who rest in the peace of Christ.
I invite you to consider the many graces and blessings that Gate of Heaven Cemetery has to offer you and your family. We are very blessed to have this sacred place of great peace and consolation of faith here in our Archdiocese.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Dennis M. Schnurr
Archbishop of Cincinnati