In the last week or so, I’ve seen tragedy up close and at a distance. The latter was the dreadful killings in Aurora, Colorado. The former was a memorial service for a 22-year-old who had committed suicide a week before graduation from college and with no prior indication of distress or depression.
What do we have to say in the face of the tragic and inexplicable? These are moments for deep truth and deep ritual, not platitudes and syrupy hymns. What did I hear at Sunday’s Mass about my fears and worries, about personal tragdy and cultural disintegration? A homily where God was described as “a little night light to keep us from being frightened.”
Let’s take a hard look at the way we act in these moments and what we offer to the dead and the grieving.
What do our rituals say about what we profess to believe? Are we more than puppies that fall asleep? Do we live on somewhere other than in the memory of those who love us? And what about those whom no one loved? Is there a judgment or do we all head for our own personal versions of Valhalla? We have over 2,000 years of Scripture, Church teachings, and music. Trite phrases and a four-hymn sandwich are thin gruel inded.
I truly believe that the “balm in Gilead” IS the Mass. And the deep Ritual can only be found there. But the people cannot find it there if the ministers refuse to put it there, for whatever politically correct reason. I don’t want to be canonized by my friends – that would be misleading them. I really desire that my soul will be prayed for while in purgatory on my way to heaven. I plan to stay at this parish (or if I move to another area find another EF Mass parish) in part to avoid the New Rite of Christian Burial. And I don’t want white vestments – much less the platitudes you speak of. It would not even bother me if the Requiem Mass is said rather than sung. It will be in my will to be so done.
BTW, why is this so twisted: at a Nuptial Mass there is a special blessing of the couple at a special time, and yet the text for the final blessing seems to always speak to them and NOT to the entire congregation present. But then the new Funeral Mass has lost all the singular blessings and prayers for the deceased making it a point that this is for the bereaved almost more than for the deceased such that they DO get a blessing. Our masters of the New Liturgy have turned it all upside down!