Friday, December 26, 2008

Stardate 122608.1820

Thoughts from my sister's funeral. This was the first Catholic funeral I've attended and it is only natural for a history teacher to do a comparison and contrast.
  • The protestant funerals I've attended, not always Baptist, the focus was on the deceased. There was a reading of the obituary, a eulogy, favorite songs, and sometimes a select few to give reminiscences. Some evangelical preachers have extended an alter call, which is debatable as proper decorum. Even the Episcopal service for a colleague's child followed this routine with the exception of the robes and procession. A dear friend and fellow teacher who was a Mormon Bishop his funeral was like this as well.
  • The Catholic Mass was an hour of the first priest mentioning only that Penni loved the Church and all it's ways, a defense of the Rosary (for our protestant benefit I'm sure), and then someone from the congregation leading everyone in a partial recitation of the Lord's prayer (they leave out the phrase "For Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory, forever Amen."), then they start all the sayings concerning Mary. When that was done the priest made another statement about how much Penni loved the Church and the Lord's prayer was started again and so forth. Six times this was done. Then there were a couple of songs, the other Priest gave a eulogy which focused on the similarities of protestants and catholics and how Penni came to believe in the importance of true communion. A few more songs, communion where those faithful to Rome could partake, and those not could go up and be blessed. I chose out of respect to go forward for the blessing, the others of my family did not. Finally Bruce was allowed give the obituary and his eulogy. For the first time Penni was the focus of the service and not the Church.
  • My conclusion: I found the first hour of the ritual and repetitious phrases emotionally numbing. By the fourth "Hail Marys" I was starting to get bored. All the protestant funerals I've attended were emotionally exhausting. The prolonged focus on the deceased can be like pouring gasoline on an open flame. It was Bruce's eulogy that brought the pain of our loss back to us, but in the two hour funeral it was for only a few minutes. I'm not sure if the mind numbing ritual was good or bad.
  • Questions I'm still pondering: 
  1. Is a prolonged emotional service cathartic or devastating? 
  2. Why are people so intellectually lazy and need to hide behind ritual?
  3. How can the Catholic Church still be pushing Purgatory?
  4. Why could the priests only comment on how much Penni loved the church and not how much she loved the Lord?
  5. Why do they leave out Kingdom, Power and Glory out of the Lord's prayer?
  6. Rosary beads were brought back by Crusaders during the middle ages. Were these beads originally a rude form of abacus that both Muslims and Catholics converted over into remembering phrases instead of numbers?


One Fly said...

My condolences PM.

P M Prescott said...

Thank you, One Fly.