Tragedy in a Country Churchyard

I recently visited a Roman Catholic Cemetery. Burial sites are melancholic at the best of times; one feels the loss of those who bury. I felt particularly sad in this Catholic cemetery, as the messages on the stones demonstrated no assurance of salvation or knowledge of sins forgiven.

Several invited passers-by to pray for the deceased- including for the church’s former priests. The text states that he had served in Holy Orders for well nigh forty years, and yet the salvation of his soul, at least in part, depended on others charitably praying for him. He had given his working life to a church that offered him little hope for his death. Other stones begged the Virgin Mary to intercede. Still others were cluttered with trinkets and statuettes of saints and angels in the hope, perhaps, that such acts of devotion will invoke pity from these imperious supernatural persons.


I have no doubt that this place expresses a genuine a sincere piety and godliness, yet it denies a power to save.

What kind of god demands you live a good life to go to heaven, knowing full well we are utterly incapable of achieving it? What kind of god relegates souls to purgatory, burning them in fires, until such time as others on earth pray sufficiently hard for their release? Not the God of the Bible. He saves us freely, by His grace (which means undeserved kindness), and without any effort or labour on our part:

Not the labour of my hands

Can fulfil Thy law’s demands;

Could my zeal no respite know,

Could my tears forever flow,

All for sin could not atone;

Thou must save, and Thou alone.