I have missed having the time to write to you. It has been a different week here at St. Sebastian. There was not a lot of extra time to sit down at the computer and get something out to you this week and so you were left a bit neglected I realize.
As a priest you get to do a lot of things. There are some things that are difficult to get used to. It took me a while to become accustomed to how I fit in at certain events not going with a date. You are perpetually showing up at events "stag." It took a while to get used to that. (Now it feels perfectly normal.)
On the other hand, once you've got it down you know your role and what is expected of you. In tragedy you don't have to wonder what you should do, you just have to do it.
This past week a friend of mine passed away. I introduced her to you on Monday Diary.
Cathy is a dear friend who goes back to my college days. It was a great treat when I was assigned to St Sebastian that she and her family were members here. Not only are they members, they are deeply involved. So much so that Cathy took care of the food in the rectory - a happy happenstance since that meant we were often in contact.
I've done hundreds of funerals over the past 17 years. I have celebrated funerals for grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, but never for such a close friend. It was odd and challenging.
But there is where, for yet another reason, I love our Catholic faith. It gives us a universal (among fellow Catholics anyway) way to mourn together. What do you do? What do you say? Well, here is what WE do and say. Here is what we sing. Here is what we pray. This is when we get together. This is the way this community cares for those who are mourning. This is when the priest shows up and here is what is expected of him.
Do you need to do something? Some sort of ritual outside of what is provided? Here are prayers that may be said. Here are times the church is open for prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. Here are candles to light. Unlike most other Christian Churches, here is how you are still connected to the one who has died.
When all of the funeral rites are done and you face a year of becoming accustomed to being without the person, there is a whole other list of things to do from offering Masses to remembering the dead during the month of All Souls.
It is such a rich faith. It asks much because it offers much. We practice it when we think we don't need it so that it is there when we do for times like these.