Friday, April 21, 2006

Life is short...

Tuesday afternoon upon returning home, I received an email from the rector of the Loyola Chapel advising us that one of the members of the chapel had passed away. This morning was her funeral. I did not sleep much last night, because I had to read a little "geisha" before bed.

Arriving at the chapel this morning, I noticed that most of the original members of the chapel community returned to pray and support the family in their time of grief. This is only the second funeral I have attended here in Montreal. Many of my "mentors" were there, many of the women I count as friends were there as well.

It was two years ago that my friends mother came to church one Sunday with the announcement that she had in-operable lung cancer and that she was terminal. I remember that day because we all wept at the news. A community that prays together, stays together. For the following years we went to Sunday services to "show up" and be "counted," it was as if, each one of us was a point of light for Julie and her family. Each week we attended hoping to give faith and strength to the family as "community."

When the chaplaincy turned over and a new chaplain was installed that "communty" began to fall apart because of truth, intolerance and dogmatic heirarchy. It was good today to see my friends and to hear that many of them have moved to other parishes because of these problems. But for two hours this morning, the chapel community of Loyola gathered to bury one of our own. The new chaplain sitting in community as an observer, not a celebrant. I did count three concelebrants on the altar including Fr. Paul, and there were at least five other priests in the congregation, not to mention every pew was filled in the chapel. I should be so blessed upon my death to have that many people come to celebrate my death as she.

Never once did I ever hear my friend complain for the lot she had been given. And every week the family stood with her and prayed and we prayed with them. The community was best when it was united in prayer with a chapel leader we all trusted and respected. Julie was an example of a servant following God without question. She was an inspiration to me personally because she faced adversity with honor and respect and dignity. I hope that when my time comes that I will have been so courageous as she. I will always remember her in my daily prayers.

Father Paul said the funeral mass this morning, thanks be to God. Everyone in the chapel community adores Fr. Paul for his eloquence, his love of God and his ability to accept everyone in his congregation no matter what the issues at hand. This morning I was truly moved by his words of faith and prayer, as I think, was the family as well. Someone said to me earlier this week that I would never leave the church because I love the ritual. I have to agree. The Catholic rites of Death are so amazingly wonderful. The waters of baptism welcome the deceased into the church and that same blessing water and incense send them on their way in the end.

It was good to pray with my friends and to sing. Did I mention I love to sing music in church. So it went that there were particular "members" of the chapel scattered among the mourners and as the music rose, each of us lead song in our respective pew sections. We know the ritual songs of the mass and the funereal music was some of my favorite music from my earlier life - many of the songs we sang today I sang at the funerals of my grandparents when I was younger. It brought back such memories for me.

I spent some time catching up with some old friends I have not seen in many months and found out where they were worshipping these days, maybe I will find them on Sunday, not far from my house. It is important to take part in rites of passage, not for myself, but for the family left behind. Just "being there" in community brings hope to the family. After the funeral ended I said my goodbyes and expressed my condolences to my friend Rob. It was hard for him to sit unflinching through the funeral, but in the end we shook hands and said:


It is finished...

Julie, May God Bless you and may you always know we will remember you.

Eternal Rest grant her and may perpetual light shine upon her.


Blogger Echo Mouse said...

That was a very nice tribute to your friend. I'm so sorry for your loss. {{hug}}

11:47 PM  

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