Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Dorothy’s funeral was yesterday, at Saint Mary’s Church, Franklin, Massachusetts. Long before she died, she thought about what she might like for some of the particulars concerning her service. The funeral home, Oteri & Son, had previously been used by the family for interment of Dorothy’s sister, Patty, and Dorothy had made them aware, at that time, of what she wanted when her time came. It was a pleasant surprise to hear about this, as we had been unaware that she had made known her wishes in that regard. Anyway, I thought some of you might like to know about the music and readings she chose.
The form was the Order of Christian Burial as performed in the Catholic Church. I won’t take you through every bit of the rite, but it is useful to know that it includes the usual important events which transpire during Catholic mass – readings from both the Old and New Testaments; a gospel reading (followed by a homily, or sermon, from the priest, with inclusion of some reminiscence of the deceased’s life, most especially as it would tie in with the gospel reading, if possible); commemoration of The Lord’s Supper (communion); and a final commendation of the deceased into God’s hands.
There are spots within the service where music may be chosen for inclusion. Dorothy chose the following hymns:
Be Not Afraid
How Great Thou Art
I was especially pleased to see that she had chosen Amazing Grace. It is probably my favorite hymn.
(Before I knew which hymns had been chosen, I had thought that one of them might have been On Eagle’s Wings, which was one of those I had chosen for My Father’s funeral mass. It was also used at a few other burial services I’ve attended, and it never fails to bring me to tears. Truthfully, I was afraid that Dorothy might have chosen it. I didn’t want to break down sobbing, and I could not have gotten through the singing of that song without doing so. As you can see, she didn’t choose it. However, when I opened the hymnal, looking for the other songs, it was the first one I saw. That, and another later coincidence, gave me pause for thought.)
I’ll now give you the complete readings chosen by Dorothy. I should mention that, since this was a Catholic service, one of the three may not be recognizable by even a very devout Protestant. As you may know, the Catholic Church considers inspired several books that are part of the Apocrypha, or extra-canonical literature, not included in the 66 books of the Protestant Bible. One of these is the book of Wisdom, written in approximately 100 B.C., during a time generally considered as a time of silence from God, between the testaments, in Protestant tradition.
Here are the readings, as they appear in The New American Bible, in the order they were read at her mass.
Wisdom, 3:1-6, 9
The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction, and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace. For, if before men, indeed, they be punished, yet is their hope full of immortality. Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of Himself. As gold in the furnace, He proved them, and as sacrificial offerings He took them to Himself… Those who trust in Him shall understand truth, and the faithful shall abide in Him in love, because grace and mercy are with His holy ones, and His care is with the elect.
We would have you be clear about those who sleep in death, brothers; otherwise you might yield to grief, like those who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, God will bring forth with Him from the dead those also who have fallen asleep believing in Him. We say to you, as if the Lord himself had said it, that we who live, who survive until His coming, will in no way have an advantage over those who have fallen asleep. No, the Lord himself will come down from heaven at the word of command, at the sound of the archangel’s voice and God’s trumpet; and those who have died in Christ will rise first. Then we, the living, the survivors, will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thenceforth we shall be with the Lord unceasingly. Console one another with this message.
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet Him, while Mary sat at home.
Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would never have died. Even now, I am sure that God will give you whatever you ask of Him.”
“Your brother will rise again“, Jesus assured her.
“I know he will rise again,” Martha replied, “in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he should die, will come to life, and whoever is alive and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, He who is to come into the world.”
After the service, MY WIFE and I spoke briefly to two of those in attendance. One was a hospice caregiver of whom Dorothy always spoke highly. The other was the woman (Gail Eddy) who has taken over the care and feeding of the feral cats that Dorothy so loved. It was a blessing to meet both; one who took such great care of Dorothy in her final weeks, and one who is continuing Dorothy’s good work.
The second coincidence I teased you with earlier? As we left the church, the first thing we saw was a cat walking out of the church parking lot. I had not asked for a sign concerning Dorothy’s well-being – I’m glad to say I had enough faith to KNOW she was well – but that would have done the job, and I’ll say thanks anyway.
And finally, here's an article, by Allison McCall, from The Milford News. I'd like to thank Ms. McCall for her understanding. I was touched by reading this. It is as fitting a tribute as I would have written myself. Allison interviewed me for this piece and it was a distinct pleasure speaking with her.
Soon, with more better stuff.