Tuesday, April 21, 2015

When I Die....or..."Is She OK?"

     Yep. I am SO ok it's ridiculous. No worries. But I am going to die. Not anytime soon, Lord willing, but, well, life is terminal.

Seriously, none of us leaves here alive. Well, alive in Christ, but we'll get to that. 
     For the past few weeks, my sons have been called to serve midweek funerals at a local parish, since they're available b/c of the homeschool schedule. I figure, since I'm there, I might as well go to Mass, too (I learned to do that from my grandmother). 

     I have some funny thoughts and observations from being in attendance with these grieving families, as well as more reflective ones. Let's do funny first:

1)  I want to be buried from Mass at 1:pm.
    My aunt's friend, Barbara, an Anglican, says, "no WONDER you Catholics are weeping and wailing at your funerals - you're EXHAUSTED!".  There is something to be said for that. Also, in solidarity with the parents of young families, have you ever tried to get your whole family beautiful (because it's a funeral, right?), make it to rosary at the funeral home before the Mass at nine, and then convoy over to the church for 10? BLECH!  So, 11:am would be better, but by the time Mass is out, it's lunchtime and there's a mini-rush hour and then everyone has anxiety about the funeral procession being broken by people who have to get back to work. So, 1:pm allows you to get ready, eat something so you're not dying (har har) because you haven't had lunch, and then after interment, you can reasonably have baked goods snacks! Then everyone's home in time for supper. boom, boom, done. 


   Self-explanatory. Oh, and if you can throw in some Latin Hymns (maybe asking for the entirety of Mozart's Requiem is a little much), that would be great. Thanks. 

3)  I want altar boys. Maybe my boys. It's way nicer. 

     Now let's hit reflective:

1)  It's evident, from their demeanor, that many people haven't stepped foot in Church in a while,  at the funerals my boys serve. Maybe, just maybe, this experience will be a catalyst. It will be the thing that gets them there and makes them stop and think, "someday this will be me".  And they'll see that this, Church, is important.  At funerals, I ask the intercession of the loved one being buried, so that Our Lord will touch their hearts, and make them want to come back. So, when I die, maybe, just maybe, someone whom I love will step back into the Church, too, and maybe their heart will be touched and want to keep coming back...what an amazing thing, to have one life gather many in the nave of the place where the Holy Sacrifice is offered.  I suppose we all have the potential, with our funeral Masses, to witness to others. So, when I die, I kinda hope that happens. 

2)  The priest at that parish is really very good.  He protects the Blessed Sacrament by saying, "all who are in a state of grace and are eligible to receive, please come forth into the communion line." It's a gentle way of saying, "if you haven't been to confession in a time frame that is quantified in 'years', and if you're not a Catholic in communion with Holy Mother Church, you probably should skip the communion line."  At my funeral, I want that kind of priest.  See, because even though you're there because of the Dearly Departed, Mass is about Jesus. I mean, if it wasn't, any old place would do, right? So, even if a "few thoughts" are read outside of the parameters of Holy Mass about the person who died, the Mass is focused on the Source and Summit of the life of the loved one.  So, when I die, I hope Father does just as lovely a job keeping anyone who comes (presuming anyone comes) focused and trained on Jesus. 

3)  When I die, I don't want people to be sad. See, Jesus is Divine and Merciful. And I will live on, because I trust in His Mercy. There are a few things that I presumptively and selfishly will indeed ask for, though.  I want prayers for my sorry soul. I will need them. I want people to pray to God in thanksgiving, on my behalf, that I got this stunningly amazing gift - life. I don't want anyone to be dressed in black. Unless you're in a cassock. And mostly, I will ask that my family, my friends, my neighbors, my acquaintances, will remember why we are on this earth to begin with. See, we were not made for this place. We were made for Heaven. We need to encourage each other to that end. We need to live lives of service, out of love for God, manifest in our fellow man. See, when I die, my chances at doing that for others will have ended. But I want people to know that their lives go on, and I want them to do that, because they still get to work on their souls, which are eternal, and we were made to live on in CHRIST! really. Heaven is our real life. And because God is good. and because I have control issues...

4)  and really, in all seriousness, PLEASE NO "EAGLE'S WINGS"!!! 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

These Forty Days

He is Risen! He is not here!

Oh, my goodness, how light my heart is now that Easter is upon us and this Lent, this Lent, this LENT has passed. Lord, thank you for the Lent!

At Mass, on the first Sunday of this season, Father posited, "If we cannot deny ourselves the good things, how can we resist that which is harmful? How can we say no to sin?" Again and again, I reiterated those words to our family, weekly, as much to remind myself of the benefit of sacrifice.

So many fruits poured forth from the sacrifices made, the daily denials of little luxuries or pleasant options, and the extra "things I just don't want to DO".

Self-knowledge is surely one of those fruits. We discover, don't we, where we are weak, how easily we forgive ourselves, and how often we deny Our Lord, failing to even "stay awake one hour".  Lord, forgive me in my weakness and self-indulgence.

But He knows we are weak. He knows we fail. At the culmination of all of His sufferings, He saw us, as Father tells us, through the blood and mud and sweat and filth of His terrible via crucis. He trod forward in pain, bearing it for us. 

This act of love, this salvation for ME, who deserves none, edifies my soul that my life matters, is seen and noted, and my life is worth His being given, because of His great love. For me. Because He wants me to go to Heaven. 

Because then, of His Sacrifice, I chose to offer my Lent for another. The fruit of THIS is - closeness with Our Lord!  How much easier is it to bear a suffering when done out of love for another? For the life of their soul? And don't we, then, see why and how Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, bore His ultimate Sacrifice and Death on behalf of His children? 

So now these forty days are done. Our Lord is no longer in the tomb. He is Risen in Victory- Victory over death!

We commemorate it every year. Every Lent, every Holy Week, every Easter. And every Easter I am utterly astounded at the relief from penances and suffering (if you could call it that) we attempt to share with Jesus, and the great joy and love unmerited by me that He so freely and willingly bestows upon me, and us all. 

My heart is full, because of the parchness of the last forty days. My joy in the Risen Christ overwhelms me! I cry out again and again, "We are the Easter people! Alleluia is our song!".