Saturday, August 3, 2013


In seven years of blogging, this is the second time that I entitle my thoughts, Open Letter.  The first time was about the way young people prepare for their wedding day and the exhorbitant amounts of money that they demand their parents spend to make it a memorable day.  It might be of interest to you to know that the event that sparked my reflections back then cost $35,000 and kicked off a marriage that lasted a grand total of five, count them, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 years.
All that money sure didn't cement that relationship.
That's the same wedding, Catholic, by the way, where one of the Scripture readings was read from the Jehovah Witness version of the Bible and no one but me noticed.  Trust me, friends, strange things happen in life.  You will see that a similar thing happened to me today.

The present thoughts are occasioned by a funeral that I attended this morning.  Catholic funeral, of course.  Well, it took place in a Catholic church, anyway.  Things were normal until the presiding priest took to the pulpit. It was then that we got a stream of thoughts about the goodness of God and His everlasting and wide reaching Divine Mercy.  It didn't take long before the deceased was pronounced as being comfortably ensconced in the bosom of Abraham and seated at the right hand of Jesus. So, and I paraphrase, as we mourn the departure of our dearly beloved, our faith tells us that she is happily enjoying the eternal bliss of being with God in heaven.  This is 21st century Catholic drivel, and contradictory at that.  Why are we mourning someone whom you are telling us is in heaven?
Hmmm...Wait, it doesn't end there.  After the sad attempt to comfort people with questionable Catholic doctrine, the priest returned to the altar and announced that we would now pray for the repose of the soul of the deceased.  Really?  Not me, after what you said I want the deceased to pray for me from her exhalted position at the right hand of God Almighty.
By this time, swamped by these mixed messages, I was not a happy camper.  I was saying to myself that we Catholics deserve better than this.  Then I was interrupted in my reflections by the crown jewel of Protestant theological hymnology, "Amazing Grace."  I did say that this funeral took place in a Catholic place of worship, right?  I didn't anticipate that I might also be attending the canonization of the latest saint.

There were two acts that I appreciated, yes, only two.
1. The priest explained why the Paschal Candle was present and was lit.
    He explained that this happens only for three occasions, Easter        
    Season, during the conferring of Baptism and at Funerals.  Each use of
    the Paschal Candle has the same meaning, the Resurrected Christ is
    the center of our life.
2. The priest used the traditional Canon of the Mass, not the short form       to which we have all be subjected on a regular basis, ad nauseam, I
    might add. Yes, I noticed.  The church was full.  I would dare anyone
    to take a poll to see how many of the congregants noticed.  
    Fortunately for the priest I noticed.  It gave me something good to
    say about my experience at this quasi Catholic funeral.

Here are the preliminary rules for my funeral.  Follow them if you want. It just so happens that I won't be in a position to care.
* No crying allowed.
* Two nights of waking.  4:00 PM to 10:00 PM.
* If cremation will keep the price down, do it before the funeral.
* If you keep me in the box, remember, I have the right to have my
   face toward the assembly.  My wife will explain this to you.
* $2,500 limit for the whole thing (Inflation makes it that high)
* No eulogy.  Everyone at the funeral knows me. That's good enough.
   Besides, eulogies tend to make people heretics because they have no
   idea what judgment has been meted out by God to the dead person.
* 1st reading is the story of Enoch from Genesis.  Not more.
* Psalm 15 - in its entirety .. no singing, slow meditative, clearly
   pronounced declamation
* Gospel, "I am the way, the light and the truth."  Not more that 3 or 4
* Homily, no eulogy.  Remember, it is not the dead guy you want to
   speak about, it is God.  Do it.
* No Latin, no Protestant hymns.

Remember that I said that God is Merciful and He is a Fair judge.  Hell is a reality and that means that some of us will be there.  Don't dance around it by taking away God's justice by making him exclusively loving and merciful.  Then he would no longer be God.  So don't make Him less than what He is.  It should not be consoling to us to make God fit us when we are experiencing death.  The true consolation that we should seek is the understanding of whom He is and the acceptance of His Divine judgment whatever it may be.  Anything else diminishes Him and diminishes us.
So don't cry for me.  I know what I am getting into.  I am 76, so I face the reality of death every single day as the probability of my disappearance gets ever greater.  I am not afraid...I believe in the truth in the conviction that Jesus has liberated us from the teeth of death.  I repeat, do not cry at my funeral.  Remember and believe that no matter what, I got what I deserved from God the Loving, Merciful and infinitely Fair Father of us all.

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