The dead spent the night at my place last night. This is not unusual only for a very small group of people I would imagine. For me it was quite unusual.
My over night guest was Fr. Ted. I know his soul is on its journey and all that, but it still seemed kind of rude to leave his body on its own. I was joking with the servers that we were going to sign up to keep vigil with Father all through the night and that they needed to sign up for an hour. Their relief was palpable when they found out I was joking.
But, God bless them, some of the adults asked, “Should we? I’d put in some time.” I was sure, however, that he would be just fine.
I did go over and visit. The church was locked and quiet and we could chat for a moment. Some priest friends came over last night and we went to pray compline with Father Ted. It was solemn and, at least I thought, kind of moving. We even closed with Fr. Ted’s famous lines, “For protection at home, for protection at work, for protection in the car, and protection from the Blessed Virgin Mary!” I don’t think he ever got the irony of that wording.
The funeral is today (11:00AM). Unfortunately Father has been off of the radar screen for a spell and most of the people who would have been associated well with him have gone on before him. There is a priest, Fr. Oleksiak, who has been doing a Yeoman’s job of taking care of him these last few years. The Bishop will be here. Despite the fear that there will be more ministers at the funeral than attendees, he will still come. Father was, after all, a true son of the Bishop.
I love my parish. There was no way to announce to anybody that Father had died and that there were services so we relied on work of mouth and they turned out yesterday for the vigil. Most did not know him or know him well at all. That is charity and a work of mercy. How proud I am to be their pastor.
I was afforded the privilege of preaching vespers yesterday. I started off with this quote:
“Priests should look upon death as one of the last functions of the priesthood. It is their last Mass.
This mortal body with which you were born at the incarnation was, for you, O Jesus, only the material of the sacrifice.
This is what this mortal body should be for each of those who share your priesthood. They must make use of it, as you did, to preach the truth, to edify men. But the essential, sacerdotal use they must make of it is to die. …
They should, then, prepare for it as they prepare to celebrate Mass, because the death of a priest is a Mass, united to your death and consummated in yours for the salvation of mankind.”
Fr. Gaston Courtois
Rest in peace Fr. Ted