Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Walking The Walk

It's been a day. A good day. I went to the funeral of my friend who passed away last week. He was a cradle Catholic and was really good friends with a group of men from the Mennonite Church close by. My friend's funeral, held at the Catholic Church, was a wonderful celebration. The music ministry from the Mennonite church really blessed us with meaningful music. The priest led the service and turned it over to the Pastor of the Mennonite Church after the Gospel reading. This Pastor acknowledged what an honour it was to preach in the Catholic Church and was grace filled, loving and gentle spirited. He is a man my husband grew up with, his father a man my husband had the greatest respect for. He said nothing that was contrary to Catholic belief. I am convinced there is more that unites than divides us and I am grateful this pastor focused on that.

A few weeks ago at a different funeral, a Protestant Pastor got up to say his piece towards the end of a Catholic funeral, time courteously given him by the priest and at the request of a few family members. Time with which he then ran roughshod over the message that had been preached. Correcting people's faulty perspective. There's a certain rudeness about doing something like that that irks the daylights out of me. I don't know about you but words don't speak to me near as much as actions do. What's that saying? Your actions speak so loudly I can't hear what you're saying. Advice I need to take to heart as well. Sigh. Excuse me while I take the log out of my eye.

Today, the priest went out of his way to explain the order of the Mass without apologizing for it, nor making people uncomfortable if they were unfamiliar with what came next. Here's how we do as Catholics and here's the meaning behind this symbol or that one. I've rarely seen such inclusivity without apologizing for the differences. No watered down Catholicism, no dissing one another's faith communities. The mutual respect was beautiful to see.

My friend's life touched many people. He let the Holy Spirit guide him and more than half the people attending raised their hands when asked if they had prayed one on one with my friend. He not only talked the talk, he walked the walk.

At the luncheon afterwards I was able to connect with a friend whose husband is undergoing chemotherapy, his second round tomorrow. It was good to talk and honour her tears as they overflowed. Tears of all that is unsettled within her. In the circles we know each other in there have been several deaths and diagnoses of cancer lately. She knows firsthand that no one is immune to suffering. It's a painful road of transformation for her right now. I don't know how her story will end. She is still raising young children and is also a grandmother. Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.


Mary Poppins NOT said...

May his memory be eternal!

Black Pete said...

"There are Christians, and then there are Christians."

--Barbara Kingsolver, in The Poisonwood Bible

beth said...

A beautiful post - it brings me joy to hear another example of the body of Christ coming together like this.

A post full of hope for many things. Thanks.

Steve F. said...

My first AA sponsor said it of people in AA - I say it of priests and ministers:

There are a goodly number of you that I call as friends. There's a considerable number o' you that I can tolerate. And there's some o' you SOBs that I wouldn't warm up to - even if we were cremated together. But I am called to love you - all of you - nonetheless.

Your Catholic priest - and his Mennonite minister brother - are why I still have hope for the institutional church on earth. The other child-of-God is why I keep hearing "abandon hope, all ye who enter in" when I stand outside of some churches.

And I am so, so terribly grateful to any minister of God who takes the time to say, "Here's how we do things, and you're welcome to be here." I hope there is some kind of blessing that gets showered down on such as these. It has been my rare encounters with them (and people like you, Penni, and others) that give me hope in One Flock and One Shepherd...

annie said...

I'm sorry for the poor way the pastor at the funeral a few weeks ago handled things. That was a very arrogant and infinitely unloving thing to do.

So glad to hear this recent funeral was one of mutual respect. If only we could always be so loving toward each other...