Monday, 31 August 2009

Senator Kennedy RIP

There have been many reactions to the funeral of Senator Edward Kennedy (may he rest in peace) and this one quoted at the excellent "The Deacon's Bench"blog is representative: "Liturgical comfort food".

Given Senator Kennedy's support for abortion, there is a real question over whether there should have been a high-profile Catholic funeral at all. As Robert Kumpel points out at St John's Valdosta, if the Archdiocese of Boston can honour a pro-abortion politician and allow a pro-abortion president to eulogise him then they perhaps owe an apology to the Mafia.

Even leaving that question aside, as a "model" funeral that many people will take as an example of how to give someone a proper send-off, it leaves much to be desired. The question of praying for the dead can be tricky in today's "feel good" society but that is no reason just to leave it off all together. Someone might have pointed out that the one thing we can really do for Teddy now, the thing that will really help him out, is to pray for his soul. Rather than thinking of what will make us feel good, how about thinking about what will make him feel good right now?

This question really does get to the heart of our faith. Do we actually believe in the four last things? Do we believe that there is a purgatory? It makes a massive difference to the way that we celebrate funerals. Come to that, it makes a massive difference to you, me, and Senator Kennedy. The high-profile comfort food funeral is an opportunity for all of us to examine our conscience on what we have done to the Church's care of the dead.

Thanks to Chris Gillibrand at Cathcon for this pertinent video. The key moment is at 1'28". A courtier strikes the door of the Church to gain entry. When he says that it is the Empress Zita etc. he is denied entry. He asks again, saying that it is Zita, a poor sinner - she is then granted entry to the Capuchin Church.

Most importantly of all though - of your charity - say a prayer for the repose of the soul of Senator Kennedy.
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