Get It?

I’ve been smiling off and on ever since I read Timothy Hanchin’s article, Messianic or Bourgeois? (5/8), about the young men who shortened man for others into the catch phrase M.F.O. Unlike Mr. Hanchin, I think this is something that should cause rejoicing, not concern. When I coordinated adult initiation groups, I told the candidates and catechumens that they wouldn’t really be Catholic until they could get the jokes and the slang. By their somewhat tongue-in-cheek reference, the young men have shown that they have indeed internalized the concept. Although it is true that the calling to be a person for others opens one to a depth of challenge, most of us spend our days toting water jugs rather than facing firing squads. In fact, there are days when I feel I would willingly embrace the drama of a firing squad if only it would remove me from the treadmill of my life. But that is not my calling! And so I smile (or try to) and reach out to the person nearest me, trying to become more of an M.F.O. (P.F.O.? W.F.O.?) I am not trying to reject the prophetic dimension, but rather allowing it to permeate a rather ordinary life.

Kristeen Bruun
N. Richland Hills, Tex.

Renewed Hope

Following your May 2005 editorial maneuvers, I worried that you had bowed to foreign pressure and were in danger of fading as a light in the theological wilderness. Then along came your past three issues.

Terry Golway (It’s Your Funeral, 6/5) and mourning companions will always be welcome at our parish, for whatever moments they wish to celebrate. What would Joseph of Arimathea, Mary of Nazareth and the other women have done if they had to face some of today’s episcopal and presbyteral types?

The words of Paul to Timothy about being strong, loving and wise,’ come to mind when reading Margaret Roche Macey (When Light Yields to Darkness, 5/29). No doubt her funeral (hopefully not for years to come) will be a not to be missed event. I’d give anything to be her parish presbyter!

Having been educated and greatly influenced by the Benedictines of New Hampshire’s St. Anselm Abbey and the monks of Vermont’s Weston Priory, I take renewed hope from Christopher Ruddy (Pope and Abbot, 5/22) and his assessment of the current bishop of Rome. There has got to be some taint of monk under those white robes!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia for these contributors. They should keep you from yielding to the darkness for a while.

(Rev.) John D. Kirwin
Albany N.Y.

Liturgical Sense

Having just read It’s Your Funeral (6/5) by Terry Golway and after presiding at more than some 800-plus funerals in my 17 years ordained, I was amused and challenged. If you read through The Order of Christian Funerals (1989), one understands that a funeral Mass is first and foremost about the life, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. Theoretically one would never have any talk about the deceased and would just proclaim Christ’s P-D-R. The church’s funeral rites celebrate and commend the Christian person to the Lord in hope of his/her resurrection to new life. Having heard Be Not Afraid, On Eagles’ Wings and even Amazing Grace at almost every one of those 800-plus funerals, I hope and pray that my family and friends have enough liturgical sense not to sing them at my funeral...lest I should rise from the casket pleading them to stop singing! While I can and will indicate which hymns I would like sung by my family and friends, I will not have much choice in the matter, I think. While I thought Inna Godda Divida was a terrific rock song in the 1970’s, I would not want it played at my funeral...before or after they carry me in or out. Hymns that truly proclaim that Christ has died, Christ is risen and Christ will come again are what I’ll ask for. Skip the eulogy. Each of my family and friends will have a memory, good or bad, of me. I just pray that each of the souls I commended to the Lord in a funeral liturgy will be standing at the gate with our Lord, asking, Let him in Lord; he did a good job proclaiming your passion, death and resurrection.

(Rev.) William Lugger
Lansing, Mich.

Wonderful Sendoff

A resounding Amen! to Terry Golway’s comments about funerals (6/5). I well remember my mother’s funeral in 1989. The Mass was said by a traveling priest who covered pulpits during vacations. He kept referring to her as the deceased. I wasn’t sure he even knew the gender of the body in the casket. He never even took the time to talk to us for a few minutes and find out just what kind of woman my mother was. I vowed then that I would never go through another family funeral that was as impersonal as my dear mother’s was. My sister will probably be the next to go, and I have a eulogy all prepared for her funeral. I wrote it with her approval, and when the time comes, she will get a wonderful sendoff. She wants a bagpiper to play Amazing Grace, and by golly she is going to get it.

Cris Roll
Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

A Difference

As a priest (of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis) I understand Terry Golway’s points about the need to be sensitive, but I also wonder when the funeral Mass becomes a memorial service, with the Eucharist taking a back seat in the liturgy (6/5). Two examples: a priest was recently buried from his home parishnot surprising. But the six readings and six eulogies were! A woman was recently buried from her parish and although there were only three readings, there were three eulogies and the reading of a poem/story. What happened to testimonials/eulogies being given at the wake? Oh, that’s right. We don’t have wakes anymore, only reviewals right before the liturgy.

Perhaps in lieu of a eulogy, the printed text could be included in a worship aid? We need to tread lightly on the line between a funeral Mass and a memorial service. There is, after all, a difference.

(Rev.) Bob Hart
Oakdale, Minn.

Recently in Letters