Saturday, August 29, 2009

What ???

OK, we knew that pastoral sensitivity for the grieving and mourning family precluded any stern admonitions of the late Senator Ted Kennedy's inexcusable pro-abortion stance at his funeral. Yet, we did not expect nor deserve the bizarre liturgical aberrations witnessed at the funeral liturgy, either.

The symbols, gestures and prayers of the Catholic funeral rite speak for themselves and do not need extraneous diatribe. The Roman Ritual (Ordinary or Extraordinary) has a very brief prayer before the casket is sprinkled with holy water to remind us of baptism and the placing of the funeral pall, another reminder of baptism and the resurrection of the body on the last day. The priest who said the opening prayer, however, had some extra verbiage which always spurs on the question, why? The Funeral Mass of Christian Burial is the SAME for a Senator or a citizen; a general or a private; an admiral or a sailor. SAY THE BLACK AND DO THE RED is what should have been done across the board.

The homily is NOT to be a eulogy but a theological meditation on the mystery of life, death and resurrection. It almost sounded like a canonization ceremony which is too common as it is already in many parishes. While prudence and pastoral compassion prevented a reading of the spiritual riot act for the Senator's obstinate support of abortion legislation, nevertheless, it was more than mere negligence to completely omit ANY mention of purgatory or the power of intercessory prayer FOR the dead. I pray and hope that Ted died in the state of grace with all his sins forgiven. At the same time, too many Catholics and other Christians overlook the reality that we are all sinners. Ted made mistakes, as did you and I. He sinned, as do you and I. Even if, God willing, he died with true repentance, the horror of millions of unborn babies being killed by abortion thanks to his legislative cooperation requires some purgation.

Even President Obama was more Catholic in his eulogy (which should not take place after Communion or in Church but should be done at the funeral parlor the night before OR at the graveside AFTER the burial services are concluded) where he delicately stated that Senator Kennedy was not perfect and he did make some imprudent decisions as well as some regrettable choices. The priest who preached could have used the golden opportunity to explain WHY we Catholic Christians BURY our dead (doctrine of the resurrection) and WHY we PRAY for the dead (doctrine of purgatory and doctrine of the communion of saints). Many Catholics and Protestants have embraced the heretical notions of reincarnation or that there is no hell let alone a purgatory. He could have briefly mentioned the beautiful theology by which the love we experience on earth does not unravel with death; that the dead in purgatory or heaven still love us and we love them. They pray for us and we pray for them (those in purgatory since those in heaven need nothing.)

Rather, we got a typical travelogue on the accomplishments of a US Senator. Fine, we do that at most funerals since the sad reality is that many of the deceased we bury are not regular church going Catholics who come every weekend or everyweekday to Mass or who go to confession once a month or more. You cannot say Fred or Barney were devout Catholics if they missed Mass on a regular basis. You cannot say Wilma or Betty were pillars of the parish if they were also radical feminists who supported Planned Parenthood. Yes, a few of the authentic devout Catholics do die and the parish is at a great loss when it happens. Sadly, we have more clergy and laity who are just NICE and who live a GOOD and decent life. But Jesus, the Bible and His Holy Church tell us poignantly and bluntly that one must become HOLY to enter heaven.

Gratia non tollit sed perfecit naturam, Aquinas said (grace does not destroy but perfects nature). Hence, we must first cultivate a VIRTUOUS life before we can adequately develop a life of HOLINESS and SANCTITY. Supernature builds upon nature. Holiness begins with goodness. We've lowered the standards, however, over the past 50 years so that people no longer fear hell but presume most if not everyone is going to heaven.

Only the good, just and merrciful Lord can and will judge Sen. Ted Kennedy, for all his good deeds and all his bad ones. For the sins of comission and omission; for his spiritual and corporal works of mercy.

Even the holiest person wants their surviving family and friends to PRAY FOR THEM after they die. No wonder the number of requests for Mass intentions has fallen dramatically these past 25 years. If everyone goes directly to heaven, why do they need a Mass for their immortal soul? Why bother with a wake service or rosary the night before? Why even have a Funeral Mass? I hate to say it, but all too often, even regular, Sunday church going Catholics do not always have a Funeral Mass before their burial. Some of the adult children who no longer practice or who are in their second or third invalid marriage and cannot receive Holy Communion tell the undertaker to tell the priest, WE DON'T WANT A MASS just a short prayer service at the parlor or at the grave.

The Catholic practice of having Masses offered FOR the souls of the faithful departed goes back to Apostolic times. When some of the lapsi (Christians who denied their faith during the time of Roman persecutions) repented and came back to the Church, they very much wanted prayers and Masses offered for them POST MORTEM (after death). The efficacy of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is beyond our feeble understanding.

But, no, Father had to wax eloquently on the private and political life of a US Senator. Everyone in that church knew he supported abortion most if not all his political life and that is formal cooperation in evil. We give him the benefit of the doubt that he had final penitence and made a good confession before receiving the last rites. If God willing he did die repentant, his soul might and most probably would need some cleansing (purgation) for all the children who died in the womb thanks to his legislation. If he is in Purgatory, he WANTS and NEEDS our prayers. Yet, from what we heard at the funeral homily, his good work for the poor outweighed and trumped any sins he may have committed. He most likely did do more good than evil but unless someone is declared a saint by the pope, we HOPE the person is either IN heaven or WILL BE in heaven (since they are preparing themselves in Purgatory).

The Prayers of the Faithful were the next attrocity. It is nice that each member of his family participated, HOWEVER, using Ted Kennedy's own words as substitutes for licit petitions is just WRONG. At least one or two of them were blatant, political and partisan slogans and NOT appropriate as prayers of the faithful, which, by the way, are in the same Funeral Ritual which tells the priest what to say and do IF he says the black and obeys the red.

The cameras conspicuously avoided showing us WHO went and received Holy Communion, unlike previous Papal Masses in the USA where notorious pro-abortion politicians approached and were given the Blessed Sacrament. We hope and pray that did not happen at the funeral Mass. The USCCB statement, while accurate, needs to be EDITED. The first line says 'we welcome everyone to this Eucharistic celebration' and only in the THIRD paragraph does it mention that the Church is unable to offer Communion to those who are not IN communion with the Catholic Church. It should say that in the FIRST paragraph AND in the FIRST line. 'While we regret we cannot give Communion to non-Catholics or Catholics not properly disposed, it is not because we are making an moral or spiritual judgment, rather, the tradition and doctrine of the Catholic (and Eastern Orthodox) Churches has been and remains that being IN communion is a prerequisite to RECEIVING Communion. In other words, one must be united with the Catholic Church in ALL of her teachings (doctrine) on faith and morals; be united with the Catholic Church in ALL her laws (discipline); be united with ALL her legitimate authorities, namely, the Pope and Bishops united with him (hierarchy); and be united with ALL seven sacraments and the Church's liturgies (divine worship). We hope and pray for the day when all Christians will be united de facto in word and sacrament under one shepherd at which time we can fully share Holy Communion. In the meantime, we respectfully ask that you respect our traditions and beliefs and if not a Catholic in full communion and in the state of grace and properly disposed, please do not come up to receive Communion BUT pray for greater unity among the churches so that one day all may be one. Thank you for your invaluable assistance and cooperation." or words to that effect.

I do not think Senator Kennedy should have been denied a Funeral or a Funeral Mass but I expected more adherence to the official rubrics of the Roman Ritual which apply to everyone, Senator, Congressman, Governor, President or just any regular citizen, be it Joe the Plumber or Bob the Autoworker. I do not think every jot and tittle of this funeral liturgy were given advance warning to His Emminence the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston. The priests who were celebrant and homilist and who prepared the liturgy knew what they were doing. Yes, by all means give the man a decent funeral and show the non-Catholic world the sublime beauty of the Catholic funeral rites. But follow the book and realize that next week and next month, pastors all over America are going to get bizarre requests for funerals of their loved ones based on what was seen on television.

Personally, I would have worn violet or purple or black vestments, to show mourning of Holy Mother Church over the death of one of her children AND to instill some sober thoughts of penance and praying for the dead that their sins be forgiven. The white pall and holy water and Easter (Paschal) Candle all represent the joy of Resurrection. But even Our Blessed Lord WEPT at the grave of Lazarus His dear friend, moments before He raised him from the dead. Often, the white vestments and the near canonization of the deceased at the homily eclipse any thought of praying FOR the deceased. Yet, that is our PRIMARY reason for Funeral Masses and the SECONDARY is the consolation of the grieving and mourning survivors, not vice versa.

Another reason eulogies do not belong at the tailend of a Catholic Funeral Mass is often the family and friends of the deceased who do speak either do so unintelligibly due to grief and cannot be understood OR they espouse totally non-Christian ideas about life after death. I have heard too many eulogies where the person speaking asked the congregation to keep the deceased 'alive in our memories.' The deceased IS alive even if our memories fail us and we forget. The immortal soul NEVER DIES and the body we commend to the earth with burial will be resurrected on the Last Day and reunited with its original soul. I don't get the impression that a lot of 'Christians' still believe that, however. Often, you get the impression from what they say that being a nice guy was the most important thing so that everyone liked you and therefore they will remember you fondly. That is NOT Chritian theology. We believe that we are made in the image and likeness of God; that we are made of a body and soul which is temporarily separated at death but will be reunited at the Resurrection of the Dead when Jesus returns for His Second Coming to Judge the living and the dead at the end of the world. Once created at CONCEPTION, every human being has an immortal soul which never dies and will spend eternity in heaven or hell. Our goal and mission in life is to discern the will of God and then do it so we can be with Him forever. God made us to KNOW, LOVE and SERVE HIM IN THIS LIFE SO AS TO BE HAPPY WITH HIM FOREVER IN THE NEXT LIFE. That is much more and is more profound than a simple fond memory in the brains of our relatives and friends, is it not? I agree that Ted Kennedy's accomplishments and the good he did be told and revealed to the public. We must also admit he was wrong to support abortion and we ought to presume he made peace with God before his death and repent of his past sins. If he made a good confession and was anointed, he still deserves our PRAYERS just in case there was still some temporal punishment due to sin left on his soul. I prayed for the soul of beloved brother Michael today. He would have been 43 years old August 29th had he not died of Muscular Dystrophy at the age of 26. He sufferend immensely from his disease with several painful operations, leg braces, wheelchair and being bedridden at the end. His cross was a million times heavier than anything I have ever been asked to endure my entire life. But I still have a Mass offered for his soul and I pray for his soul, and the soul of my other departed brother Joe, my departed sister Mary and my beloved father, John Trigilio, Sr. All of them were much holier and far better persons than I will ever be but I still pray FOR them and ask that they do likewise and pray FOR ME.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Catholic RAP is not my cup of tea but 'de gustibus non disputandum est'

Found this, too, on the Hermeneutic of Continuity Blog. While I am with Fr Finigan in terms of musical preference, it is still refreshing to actually hear orthodox lyrics and see edifying pictures while listening to 'rap'. Maybe some of our Catholic Youth will be spared the Dark Side of the Force their parent's generation endured when there was heterodox teaching from the pulpit and fluff in the catechisms. (pre-JP2)

Ain't That True

from the Hermeneutic of Continuity

Quote of the day

Well my evening was already good with Rosary and Benediction well attended. This put the icing on the cake :-)

If St. John Vianney himself were in many of our American parishes there would be an abundance of letters from concerned parishioners about the direction in which he was taking the parish.”    Bishop Robert Vasa

Rest in Peace


No matter what your opinion of Senator Ted Kennedy, Christian charity demands we pray for the repose of his immortal soul and for his grieving family.  It is also bad form to speak ill of the dead, especially before they are buried. I have no desire to go through a litany of issues I feel the Senator was on the wrong side of the fence. His political affiliation was different than my own.  de gustibus non disputandum est. While I feel it is inappropriate and improper to demonize someone just as they leave this earth to meet their particular judgment, at the same time, it is important that his supporters not canonize him this week, either. His accomplishments need to be noted.  He did write and support legislation for the poor and disadvantaged.  He did help the working man by supporting unions. There was a lot of good the man did.  While we can quibble about economic policies and political stategies, one sad reality remains.  Like other Catholic politicians, Kennedy supported abortion. There is a latitude of debate on health care, the economy, the environment, defense, the war on terrorism, immigration, public education (and vouchers for parochial schools), et al.  Where there is no gray area and no room for compromise, however, is the right to life, especially the innocent unborn.  I will pray for Senator Kennedy's soul because only the Good Lord can and will judge his motives and actions.  We who remain here on earth, however, cannot take comfort when any of our elected public officials espouse our holy religion and defy our most sacred tenet, that innocent human life must always be protected.  Patrick Madrid wrote an excellent response to an article in America Magazine. While, I, too, could empathize with Senator Kennedy since we both buried two brothers and a sister, I could not identify with his staunch pro-abortion position. While it is laudable to fight for the rights of women and minorities, the right to life is a basic and inalienable right which no person or group has the authority to rescind. Whether we call them zygotes, embryos or fetuses, those unborn are HUMAN and they are human beings with an immortal soul, made in the image and likeness of God.

We should acknowledge the good done by this public servant.  We should not trash him the very week he died, least of all until his funeral Mass and Christian burial.  Once the mourning subsides, however, we cannot let history be silent about the facts.  Good was done but also much harm to the pro-life cause. I truly pray that in the midst of his terrible suffering from cancer, the Senator found full repentance and firm purpose of amendment for his prior support of abortion.  I hope and pray he died in the state of grace with all his sins forgiven.  That should always be our prayer for everyone who dies.

Sadly, as a priest, I have seen too many funerals become canonization events where the person is literally declared present in heaven because he or she was a 'good' person or because 'we all end up in the same place, don't we?'  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Being 'good' or just being a 'nice' guy will NOT get you into heaven. One must be HOLY to enter the Holy of Holies.  Holiness comes from grace which comes from God. Look at the obituaries in your local paper today.  Most if not all tell you esoteric things about the deceased like: they belonged to the Rotary Club, or the Elks, the Moose, Loyal Order of Waterbuffalos, etc.  He or she liked fishing, shopping, travel, sewing, playing cards, ice cream cones, etc. They tell os of mundate and trite things the person did. The most important aspect, however, is not their extracurricular activities, their employment or their social life.  Bottom line is their FAITH.  Did they BELIEVE in God?  Did they faithfully WORSHIP him every day and every Sunday?  Did they OBEY his moral laws and Ten Commandments?  Yes, I agree that those who served our nation and defended her in times of war and peace via our military ought to be recognized.  That is a commendable act of patriotism.  But we also need to hear about those brave souls who bore the cross of Christ in their own bodies and did so with dignity and deep faith.  We need to hear about the sacrifices made for marriage and the family.  We need to hear about those who struggled and persevered to live a devout life close to their God. I would rather read that than see a bunch of hooey telling me the hobbies of a dead person.

The doctrine of Purgatory is GREAT.  It allows us to be purified when we are not fully detached from all stain of sin.  The temporal punishment due to sin for an entire lifetime may be great or it may be small.  While most of us are not Mother Teresas ready for the Pearly Gates the day we die, hopefully we are not Lucifers either, ready for the pain and torments of hell either.  Purgatory is where most of hope to end up with the sure and certain hope we will eventually get to Paradise. Whatever sins we may have committed in life can still be remitted while there is still air in our lungs and blood being pumped from our heart. Pray for the dead and pray for the conversion of sinners. The battle to end abortion and euthanasia is far from over.

USCCB - Roman Missal | Assembly

USCCB - Roman Missal | Assembly

Posted using ShareThis

My Blog List

Blog Archive