This piece first appeared in the Winter 2020 issue of Evangelization & Culture, the quarterly journal of the Word on Fire Institute. Learn more and become a member today to read more pieces like this.

Under any musical setting, the Dies Irae portion of a Requiem Mass, with its consideration of that momentous commingling of mercy and justice—the powerfully articulated cry of the heart for the first, even as the last is acknowledged as necessary—can seem ponderous and heavy.

The meditation was excised from the Requiem in the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, and perhaps we have lost something there, as none of us know (and few of us likely wonder about) what is happening in those infinitesimal moments when human souls are straddling the distance between the end of their material life and the beginning of their eternal one—what mercy is offered, or gratefully pursued.

Praise the Lord

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