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{{vm.product.SpProduct.Article}} Baptismal Ecclesiology and the Order of Christian Funerals

Stephen S. Wilbricht, csc Foreword by H. Richard Rutherford, csc

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Throughout this work, Fr. Stephen S. Wilbricht, csc, emphasizes the link between Baptism and death, assisting Christians in grasping who we are called to be in this life as disciples and who we are promised to become in eternal life as saints. As the author points out the centrality of baptismal identity to the funeral liturgy, he makes apparent that the union established at Baptism continues until all reach Christ. Such an appreciation for life in the Body of Christ will help the community recognize both their responsibilities at the death of a member and the union that remains with that member as all journey to the divine. Wilbricht explores the Church’s theology of Baptism and death, and provides pastoral suggestions that will encourage communities to carry out their commitment to care for the grieving and bury the dead.

"As Baptismal Ecclesiology and the Order of Christian Funerals draws upon the best that the Church has to offer, including Lumen gentium and Richard Rutherford’s seminal work, it inspires us to enact the theology that those who die in Christ are not obliterated but changed. In this book, Stephen S. Wilbricht, csc, challenges the emphasis on the individual that occurs at funerals, in death-denial, and in one-sided treatment of death. He then inspires teachers, pastors, catechists, and liturgists to enable the baptized to take their places in caring for the dying, the deceased, and the grieving. He shows that Baptism initiates us into ‘the Church’s pilgrimage towards the heavenly banquet.’ This much needed and timely work will re-member the ecclesia to the fulfillment of their paschal identity.”

—Susan Marie Smith, PHD Author of Christian Ritualizing and the Baptismal Process: Liturgical Explorations toward a Realized Baptismal Ecclesiology (Eugene OR: Pickwick Publications, 2011)


"Stephen Wilbricht’s clearly written chronological account of Catholic funerary beliefs and practices proves, once again, the advice I received from my earliest theological mentor: Nothing helps advance the reform and renewal of the sacramental-liturgical life of the church like wider and deeper historical knowledge. Fr. Wilbricht gently but firmly challenges the individualism dominating contemporary ministry to the dying, dead, and bereaved as he demonstrates the gospel treasures yet to be realized in the genuinely communal nature of the Order of Christian Funerals. My own teaching, writing, and preaching will be enhanced by this theologically sound and pastorally compassionate elucidation of the symbols, rites, and helpful gestures meant to empower the local church community in ushering a fellow member of Christ’s body through the passage of death—a life’s journey begun at baptism.”

—Bruce T. Morrill, SJ, author of Divine Worship and Human Healing: Liturgical Theology at the Margins of Life and Death