Thursday, February 16, 2017


Some years ago (actually quite a few) I served a few years with a very unusual pastor, Father Duffy. There were  six or seven deacons including me assigned to his parish. During one meeting with him in the rectory, he announced that the USCCB had published two new books, a revised Funeral Rites and a Book of Blessings. He told us that he was ordering copies of both for each of us deacons. He indicated that the text of the new Funeral Rites "is beautiful" and very pastoral. I remember him each time I'm asked to preside at the Vigil before the Funeral (usually including the Rosary). This is because within the Vigil text is a very striking assertion. I had reason to refer to it just recently as part of a a message to a co-worker in my parish:
I am greatly distressed for you and your family at the passing of your mother. While we trust in the mercy of the Father, mourning and sorrow are part of our human nature. Christ Jesus himself wept for Lazarus (his great friend) and the son of the widow at Nain (whom he did not know in their humanity).
 After the greeting at the beginning of the Vigil Rite the evening before the Funeral, the priest or deacon may read,
My brothers and sisters, we believe that all the ties of friendship and affection which knit us as one throughout our lives do not unravel with death. Confident that God always remembers the good we have done and forgives our sins, let us pray, asking God to gather  to himself…
Is there a better and more consoling assertion of our Catholic faith? Your love for your mother in this life has not been taken from you, but is changed into love and hope crossing into the life to come.
 If we can be of any service to you in these sad days, please let us know.
As deacon, I treasure the opportunity to minister to family and friend of the deceased in their time of grief. Sometimes, in the pain of their loss, it is necessary for there to be someone who represents the Church whose firm foundation of faith may support them and provide meaning and hope in the midst of loss, even desolation.