I kicked off today with a funeral Mass.
(How’s your weekend going?) *sigh…
It is so hard to write about silver linings in woes. Whether or not we want to give them a nod, though, they exist — even in death.
A Byzantine rite priest friend (who is every bit as hilarious as he is somber) quoted perhaps another Byzantine rite priest (perhaps a lot like himself): “We should be thankful for death; it stops us from sinning.” I cannot tell you how often I have pondered this crazy-sane statement (mostly because I cannot tell you how often I have sinned and it seems unstoppable).
The sharing in today’s death (a life baptized into the Lord’s now handed back in His own Mass) will have healed a decades-old hurtful (d)rift. It doesn’t feel that way to the parties; it just feels numb and/or lame. It’s neither. It brought them all physically together in grief to make the burden lighter for the survivors old and young, and that means communicating face to face. They did. It broke the ice. Maybe there is more to come — time will tell, but for now, something was healed. The hurtfulness is redeemed. At last.
About a dozen years ago, a priest in a neighboring city died. He was so loved, the newsman covering the death wrote quite a lot about him. One of quotes he mentioned from the priest was: “The Lord can even redeem our little deaths.” What did he mean by little deaths? Losses. Breakups. Failures. Demotions. Starting over from scratch. Betrayals.
And He does redeem them, in His own way, which is usually recognizable only to the recipient. I’m surprised by it always, but not surprised that He does this.
Apart from the stunning realization that in the last funeral Mass I attended, cell phones weren’t even a gleam in someone’s eye, I was reminded once again of how the linen that is placed on the coffin in Mass is like that of our christening dress, like that of the altar, like that of the priest, and above all, like that one which His mother Mary wove in one piece for her and God’s beloved begotten Son. We strip it off Him and gamble it away and then realize and rue what we’ve done. He says, “I will receive you in that wondrous garment we share, and show you the place I have prepared for you.”
Amen. Redeem our bigger deaths, too.