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April 3, 2020 (LifeSiteNews)  — One of my favorite things to do is go to the cemetery and pray for the dead. Given the extraordinary circumstances we find ourselves in with the coronavirus outbreak, I think others should go and do the same.

Obviously, cemeteries are great places to reflect, pray, and “be still and know that I am the Lord” (Psalms 46:10). There’s also a rather low risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus from its inhabitants.

But more than that, it’s vitally important to, as 2 Maccabees 12:46 states, pray for the dead so they will be loosed from their sins in purgatory.

There are other benefits of going to cemeteries, too.

For one, it’s important to have a relationship with those who came before us and to not let them be forgotten. Tradition, it’s been said, is democracy with the dead. I agree with that. 

Honoring those who have already gone through this valley of tears, kept their faith, and “ran the race” of life, as St. Paul calls it, deserve to be remembered. It’s no small thing to have struggled through the sometimes severe punishments this life has to offer.

Oftentimes I’ll stop by the graves of my deceased relatives and ask them to pray for me. I’ll stand over them and think about the good times we had and how they lived out the Gospel. They teach me lessons even after their death!

It brings me joy to think about the “good old days” when my great aunts and uncles were alive and when everyone in my family had the same faith and the same values. 

But it causes me grief to think about how society has completely turned its back on Christ in recent decades. Just what are souls putting their trust and hope in, anyway? Money? Sports? Music? TV?

Despite that, I’m inspired when I go to cemeteries. Being around the dead, in silence, motivates me to make the most of the brief time I have been given on this earth and to fight for the restoration of Christendom.

When visiting cemeteries, one can’t help but notice the obvious differences in the ages of those buried there.

There is no telling when God is going to call us before his almighty judgment seat. I often think to myself, as I walk past the many headstones I see, “How did that person die? What were their hopes and dreams? Did they ever expect to die so young? What sense of loss did their family feel when they died? Were they in a state of grace when they passed?” I cry once in a while thinking about the answers to those questions.

Thomas à Kempis wrote in The Imitation of Christ that, “in every deed and every thought, act as though you were to die this very day. If you had a good conscience you would not fear death very much.”

At a time when so many people are falling ill and dying within literally 24 hours after being infected with the coronavirus, I can’t think of a better way to spend time on this earth right now than to go to a cemetery and prepare for and focus on the four last things — death, judgement, heaven, and hell. As Scripture reminds us, “death comes like a thief in the night.”

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Stephen Kokx is a journalist for LifeSiteNews. He previously worked for the Archdiocese of Chicago under the late Francis Cardinal George. A former community college instructor, Stephen has written and spoken extensively about Catholic social teaching and politics. His essays have appeared in a variety of outlets, including Catholic Family NewsCatholicVote, and Alpha News.