Friday, March 17, 2006

My dear Great Aunt had a wonderful church to belong to. It was what I always thought a Catholic Church should look like. There was a lot of artwork scattered throughout the church. Statues of Jesus and Mary predominated of course. This church also had some of the most beautiful stained glass I have ever seen. The apostles are all presented in this stained glass. In the evening, the sun shines in and lights up the glass, giving it a otherworldly appearance. This is an old Catholic Church built after a tornado ripped through this small town in 1911 and destroyed the original church. It is part of the old German Catholic farming community that sprung up in the area. The priest is an older gentleman, but a man who showed both love and mercy to my Great Aunt. She was baptized, given her first communion, confirmed, married, and buried in that church. That blows my mind.

As with her brother (my great uncle) before, she died well. She died clinging to her baptism and clinging to the crucifix. Along with my uncle, they all set an example for me as to how to die. As long as I die clinging to my baptism and to the hope set in front of me through the crucifix, I have nothing to fear from death. They all look forward to the life to come, as do I even now. I thank God for the faith he gave all of them.

I walked into the Church, and besides the stunning beauty of the Church as a whole (they don't build them like that anymore), there were honest to goodness hymnals. Yes, I saw big red books sitting in the pew racks. I was stunned. I opened it up and actually found the hours listed and I also found the mass in the hymnal. There were missalettes also in the pews, but I didn't see the letters OCP anywhere in this church.

The choir was a liturgical choir and the priest gave something resembling a law and gospel homily. I think it is quite difficult for anyone who preaches at a funeral to not preach the gospel at some point. One of the most shocking things at the graveside service was when we prayed for the next person in the group who will die. It brought it all home: God can call us home at anytime.

I came away from this funeral mass thinking much more highly of Rome than the prior funeral mass I had attended. Maybe it was the whole country church vs city church dichotomy that made things more comfortable for me. Maybe it was just the environment that made things wonderful. I think I can say this: God willing, I pray I won't have to attend another funeral mass for a while.

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