May I please follow through from last weekend –
“2 things regarding funerals”.
First, the reminder, that Bishop Morneau - or any other priest you may be close to – they’re always welcome to preside and/or preach, or concelebrate at funerals here while I’m your pastor. Please, in the time of need, make that request directly to them; and ask them to let me know, OK?
Secondly, may I offer a few words about my practice of removing the Funeral Pall – the white cloth over the casket – at the end of funeral Masses? Realizing that it’s caused a ‘stir’ among some folks, I hope this rationale helps ‘make sense of it’ for you.
While parents would ‘freak out’ if we said it at Baptism, having their child baptized is a preparation for the kind of life the child will live – as a Christian; but it is also a
preparation for their dying day…please God, at least 90 years in the future!
St. Paul says: “Are you not aware that we who have been baptized in Christ have been baptized into His death? When we were baptized, we went into the tomb with Him, so that just as He was raised from the dead by the Father’s power, we also might live a new life.” (Romans 6:3,4.)
This passage is often used at Baptisms outside of Mass; it’s also often used at Christian funerals – a kind of ‘bookends’ around our Christian life. Our Baptism is a life & death thing!
So the Baptismal garment is a symbol of ‘new life’; and it is also a reminder of the inevitability of our death – a ‘burial cloth’ – a ‘pall’. We die with Christ to this world’s assumptions, so we can live a deeper, eternal Truth, on Earth and in Heaven.
Just as Jesus, at the Resurrection, left the burial cloths behind (John 20:5-7) – He didn’t need them anymore – so our loved ones, placed in God’s hands, have no need of clothing, ritual, or any earthly thing.
Rather than ‘fussing’ with carefully folding up the pall (as we do with the American flag, which merits that care), the quickly pulling the cloth off from the casket, and tossing it aside to the floor by the Easter candle, suggests a parting gesture – sending our loved ones from Resurrection Parish, into the Resurrection with Jesus, forever!
It’s a poignant, dramatic reminder that we have to ‘let go’ of our beloved, for now, if they’re to go forward to Heaven. And as a widow told me years ago at Holy Cross: “Fr. Tim, you can’t begrudge Heaven to anyone you truly love.”
I hope you find this helpful, meaningful – even beautiful. And as with the Crucified and Risen Christ, we confront life and death…please…
“God bless us...EVERY one”!